It is a lifelong commitment. Never adopt a dog on the spur of the moment and never give a dog as a gift. The dog is totally dependent on you for its lifetime! Any decision should be made by the entire family so that the dog does not end up unwanted or abandoned. You need to provide appropriate food, shelter, company and protection for the animal.
Any new dog owner should seek veterinary advice. You can find a list of veterinarians here. Dogs must be vaccinated annually to protect them from highly infectious diseases which include the following:
- Distemper - An incurable infectious viral disease. The infected dog may cough, lose its appetite, have diarrhea and convulsions.
- Parvovirus - A viral disease with symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and dehydration. Treatment is not always successful.
- Hepatitis - An often fatal viral infection. The dog can develop fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, possibly accompanied by jaundice.
- Leptospirosis - An infection causing gastroenteritis, jaundice and kidney problem.
Unsterilised dogs often suffer from cancer of the reproductive organs, testicular tumours, prostate tumours (male dogs), ovarian tumours, mammary tumours and chronic unterine infections (female dogs). Sterilisation reduces the animal's chances of being affected by these ailments. Though it is not 10 per cent guaranteed, sterilisation may also modify aggressive behaviour.
You need to ensure that the dog breed you have chosen suits your environment (and your personality!) and lifestyle. Bigger and more active breeds need more space and a garden to run around in. If you live in an apartment, your dog needs to be walked at least twice a day.
You must put aside time for basic care, including grooming, feeding, exercise and training of your animal.
YOUR CHILDREN AND THE DOG
Not all dogs are okay with young children. Always supervise dog and child interaction. Some dogs have had bad experiences with children (e.g. pulling of tails, etc), hence they could develop a defensive behaviour towards any young children. Children often do not know how to behave around animals, so make sure you educate young children on how to handle an animal with care.
Be prepared to spend on commercial food (for a balanced diet), pet accessories, veterinary fees, annual vaccinations, worming treatment, grooming equipment, toys and mandatory licence fees.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN OWNER
Do not allow your dog to stray off the leash, harass or bite anyone.
Your dog should be leashed and under control at all times when in a public place.
Do not tie up or cage your dog. Confining an animal is not a kind act and may cause it to bark excessively or lead to other undesirable behaviours.
DO NOT ABANDON YOUR DOG!
It is a cruel act to abandon a dog on the streets (in Singapore, it is also considered a crime). Under the Animals & Birds Act, you can be fined up to $15,000 or receive a jail term of up to 18 months, or both.