How do I care for my new dog?

Jun 7, 2013

Identify your dog

In the ACT all dogs from eight weeks of age must be registered. When you register your dog you will receive a yellow registration tag. The tag has a unique identification number, and your dog must wear the tag throughout its life. You can register your dog at ACT Government Shopfronts, Domestic Animal Services and online at Canberra Connect

Registration is for the life of the dog and you should put the registration tags on your dog’s collar.

In addition to the registration tags, it is also a good idea to identify your dog by having a disc on the dog’s collar with your phone number. All ARF dogs are microchipped (the cost of which is included in your adoption fee) as it is now a legal requirement to microchip your dog in the ACT.

A number of times throughout the year Domestic Animal Services hosts special days where dogs and cats are microchipped for a reduced price.  Keep your eye out for advertisements!


In the ACT, all dogs must be desexed, unless you have a permit for breeding purposes.  Fees must be paid annually for these permits.

There is absolutely no need to breed from your dog. Indiscriminate breeding causes many problems because there are simply not enough homes for the accidental litters that are born each year, so desexing is recommended for both male and female dogs.

Apart from the obvious benefit to female dogs of not producing unwanted puppies, desexing can also reduce the possibility of breast cancer. Desexing male dogs can reduce aggression, wandering, urine marking and other anti-social behaviour, as well as being effective in preventing prostate trouble and cancer of the testicles.

There are many myths that surround desexing dogs. The myths that “dogs go silly after desexing” and “they will get fat” are excuses used by people who do not get their dogs desexed and do not hold any truth. Dogs will only get overweight if they have certain illnesses or are fed too much! Discuss any questions about desexing your dog with your vet.


It is essential to vaccinate your dog against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvo-Virus. Vaccination against kennel cough and tetanus is recommended and should be discussed with your vet.

Puppies require a special vaccination course to build their immunity – you should talk to your vet about this. All dogs need booster vaccinations annually.

If your new dog is not a young puppy, you should check with the dog’s previous companions, if possible, to see whether the dog has been vaccinated. Ask for dates and vaccination cards if available.

If the dog is more than one year old, or you are unable to ascertain his/her history, have the dog vaccinated. An extra vaccination will do no harm – a vaccination missed could be fatal.


Dogs of all ages can suffer from a variety of worm infestations. These can be treated simply and efficiently with the appropriate worming medication. Regular worming will ensure that possible cross infection to humans is minimised. When you purchase your dog it is important to check that he or she has been wormed.

Immunisation is a good time to catch up on this and future requirements. Ask your vet for the appropriate treatment guide. One variety of tapeworm is also transmitted through fleas, so efficient flea control, as well as treatment of the dog is essential.

Another problem is heartworm, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes illness and eventually death by heart failure. It can be successfully prevented by monthly or daily tablets supplied by your vet, or by a yearly injection. Heartworm tablets are best started at eight weeks of age. If your dog is older that that when you take him or her home, the dog may need to be blood tested before starting on any preventative treatment. Consult your Veterinarian.


Check with your vet at check up or vaccination time to discuss your dog’s diet and ensure it’s the best it can be for your dog.

You should never feed your dog cooked bones. They cannot be digested and can splinter when chewed. They cause devastating, life threatening constipation and intestinal blockages.

However, raw bones once or twice weekly are good for the teeth.

How much food is right?

At six weeks old, puppies may need 3 to 4 meals a day, but gradually reduce this over several months to a morning and evening meal – then to 1 meal a day when the dog has finished growing (usually 12 months). Judge the amount that you feed by your dog’s condition. Overfeeding or underfeeding can cause health problems. You should always be able to feel your dog’s ribs and backbone with a gentle pressure. Remember to always provide adequate fresh water in a spill proof container that is in a shady spot. Any sudden change to your dog’s diet may trigger diarrhea, so make changes gradually.


Fleas can cause two major problems for your dog.

1. Dermatitis (often called eczema)

2. Tapeworm

Puppies can be treated with some flea powders and other treatments, but check the age restrictions on the package. Adults can be treated with flea collars, sprays, rinses, tablets or liquids.

Also see:

General tips and hints