Things to look out for when adopting a puppy

When those big, puppy dog eyes beg for your love at the shelter, you have to remember that adopting a puppy isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. It’s a responsibility that you will need to honour for the rest of the dog’s life. Consider the following things when adopting a puppy…

1. The right pup for you
Just like people, dogs have different personalities and characteristics. It’s essential to choose a pup with a personality that will complement the home environment he will be living in. This decision should be made based on why you want to adopt a dog. Different breeds suit different situations – is he going to be a family pet or a companion for someone who lives alone?

Pups can be active, friendly, shy, cautious or laid back, and this is dependent on the pup’s breed and on his own unique personality. When looking around to adopt, spend time with the pup to see if his character is one that complements yours.

2. Some logistics
Adopting a pup also involves a lot of responsibility on the owner’s part. You need to decide whether your particular lifestyle can sustain another living creature, and whether you can provide your pup with the love and nurturing he deserves.

Samantha Berger, founder and director of Kitty and Puppy Haven, agrees: “Potential new owners should assess whether their lifestyle is suited to owning a pet; in other words, do they have the time available to dedicate to this new family member? Can they afford the expenses that go with a pet – not only the adoption fee, but also food, care and vet bills?”

3. Pedigree or rescue
It’s up to the owners to decide whether they want to adopt a puppy from a shelter or a breeder. Both options have pros and cons, and the choice should be made according to what the owners consider the best fit for them.

Pedigree pups
Breeders have the advantage of knowing the behavioural characteristics of the pup, as well as a concrete history of the pup’s parents and hereditary character. Reputable breeders screen their breeds for health problems as well.
In addition, breeders ought to know their particular breed very well, and should be able to give you advice and tips on how to properly care for the breed you have chosen.

Rescue roommate
Shelters across South Africa are filled with potential companions looking for good homes. Adopting a rescue pup could save his life and give him a loving environment to grow in. Rescue dogs from shelters are vaccinated, sterilised and micro-chipped before they’re sent to their new homes.
It’s a common misconception that rescue dogs are only of mixed breeds. There are shelters that are dedicated to the rescue of specific breeds as well. A list of shelters can be found on the Animaltalk website at

4. House-checks and meet-and-greets
House-checking is a standard procedure at every shelter. This is to ensure that the pup will be going to a warm and safe environment and that the owners are able to take care of him in the long term. If you have other pets, a meet-and-greet with them is essential to see whether the new pup will get along with them.

Once a home has been given the okay and the pup has been introduced to the other pets, the adoption can be finalised and he will be ready to venture off to his new home.
After the adoption, house-checks will be done again, to ensure that the pup remains happy and well cared for. Sometimes, homes don’t pass the house-check – this can happen for various reasons. Elanza Kloppers, the adoptions manager at Dogtown SA, explains: “We may decline a small complex garden for an active Jack Russell, but approve that same home for a senior dog, in need of a retirement home. We also look at the safety of our dogs. If the walls are low and a dog could easily get out, we would decline the home. We are also very aware of poisoning and dog theft happening in most areas, so we do require our dogs to sleep indoors at night, for their own safety.”


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