Responsible Dog Ownership

Being a responsible dog owner is not just about feeding your dog properly and taking it to the vet if it’s sick or injured. It’s also about making sure it wears a collar and ID tag, is microchipped – with your contact details kept up to date – and is vaccinated annually. Here we take a look the various aspects of responsible dog ownership.


Put yourself in your pet’s shoes…

Most of the behavioural and veterinary problems we encounter at HAART are due to owners not looking after their pets properly.

When it comes to caring for an animal a good rule of thumb is to imagine how you would feel if you were your pet. For instance, would you like breakfast added to last night’s stale supper or your bed being in the noisiest room in the house?

The essentials are simple. To feel secure pets need a daily routine and be loved.

Daily routine

Dogs need to be exercised regularly, usually twice a day, in all weathers. You should carry poo bags with you to clean up after your dog.

If you are looking for information on ‘housetraining your new dog’ the linked factsheet should come in handy.

Both tinned and dried pet food can provide a balanced, nutritious diet. Remember to provide extra water with dried food. Water must always be clean and fresh. Feeding animals human food is not recommended. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, for example, and can be fatal in large quantities.

Your pet’s bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight. Vacuuming or laundering the bedding will help keep smells and fleas at bay.

Good behaviour

Both you and your dog will be happier if he is socialised with people and other animals, and is easy to control. Dog training classes allow your dog to meet others in a controlled environment, and enable you to learn correct handling techniques. This will strengthen the bond between you.

Socialising from an early age will help prevent behavioural problems. Regular walks provide your dog with a change of scene and the chance to meet other dogs. Remember, your dog needs a social life, too.

Don’t encourage your dog to chase cats or other small animals. Please see our ‘Life skills for dogs’, ‘Play and mental stimulation’ and ‘Problem behaviour’ factsheets for further advice.

Health and pet insurance

A responsible dog owner doesn’t wait until their pet becomes ill before registering with a vet. Animals need annual vaccinations, and a trip to the vet to get boosters done also offers a good opportunity for a complete health check.

Pet insurance is an extremely important consideration for all dog owners. It will help guard against unexpected veterinary fees and allow you to provide the best health care for your dog. There are a number of different policies and providers to choose from, but not all pet insurance is the same. Some policies limit the amount of time or money that you can claim and this is why we recommend that you don’t choose a policy based on price alone. You should also consider Third Party Liability cover in case your dog causes an accident.

Flea and worm treatments should be repeated regularly to ensure parasites are controlled and the animal’s health is maintained.  Yearly vaccinations should be continued.  All dogs that are adopted through HAART will have received either a full course of vaccinations or a booster.

Regular grooming keeps coats clean and healthy and is essential for long-haired pets.

Neutering not only prevents unwanted litters but can also prevent tumours and other health problems. In male dogs it can also help curb straying or aggression. HAART neuters/speys all adult dogs before they go to new homes.  Puppies may be adopted on a “Puppy Contract” which identifies a date upon which the animal must be neutered/speyed by.

Identification and loss prevention

Most owners assume their pet will never go missing. We receive an average of six stray dogs each week, and hundreds more within the Perth Metro area, which proves they are mistaken.

Identification is important for dogs and it is a legal requirement that they wear a collar and identity disc.

Microchipping is a widely recognised method of permanent identification. Your vet can provide this service. We microchip all HAART dogs before they go to new homes. Remember to update your details with your microchip provider if you move house or change telephone numbers.

In urban areas keep your dog on a lead at all times as he/she could easily be startled by a noise and run off and get hurt or killed by a vehicle. Before letting him off in a safe area for the first time, be confident he will come back when you want him to.

Do not let your dog out on his own as he will classed as a stray and could be impounded. Never leave your pet tied up outside a shop alone as he may be taken for a lost dog or stolen.

Always ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date before allowing him outside.

More information on identification and loss prevention can be found in our ‘Identify your pet’, ‘Safeguard your pet’ and ‘Why you need a lead and ID’ factsheets.

For local information on dog ownership, check out our ‘Local Authorities Information’.

Going away

When planning a trip be sure to make proper arrangements for your pets. You should only entrust your animal to friends or neighbours if you are confident they will take care of them properly. If you dog hasn’t already met his carer, take time to introduce them to each other before you go away. Your friend could join you and your dog on a couple of walks, for instance.

Explain the animal’s daily routine and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergencies. Put a new identity disc on your pet’s collar with the contact details of his temporary carer and, if your pet is microchipped, let the company who manages the database know the temporary carer’s contact details.

If you are travelling with your dog, contact your microchip provider and inform them where you will be staying. If your dog goes missing, you’ll have peace of mind of knowing that if he’s found the microchip company will be able to contact you.

If you are considering boarding kennels, visit the facility beforehand to check whether it is suitable. Ask lots of questions, like how many daily walks do the dogs get. Word of mouth is the best recommendation and you’ll need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best kennels are always fully booked.


Most dogs happily co-exist with children if they have lived with them from an early age. It’s important children are taught to respect animals and are not allowed to treat them as toys.

Pets need their own space, so children should not disturb him when he is sleeping or eating. Never leave a dog alone with children. Always supervise interaction to ensure children do not tease or overexcite a pet.

A big commitment

Giving a home to a rescue animal is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. However, it is important you feel ready for, and understand, the commitment of taking on another life, one which will be totally dependent on you.

To find out more check out our ‘What to think about before getting a dog’ factsheet.