If you have any other questions or concerns after adoption, please call us on 09 256 7300 and ask to speak to a member of our friendly Customer Service team who will be happy to assist.
You will need some basic supplies before bringing your new dog home. Many of these items can be purchased in the SPCA Auckland shop.
When you buy from the SPCA, you receive quality products and expert advice. You also help other animals in need as all revenue directly supports the SPCA.
Taking your new dog home is exciting, but a car journey might be a completely new experience for your dog or puppy. Dogs should be restrained by a safety harness or travel in a crate, regardless of size. If the dog is young or small they may sit on a passenger’s lap in the back seat but should still be restrained by a harness.
Make sure you have an old towel or blanket in case they are nervous and urinate or vomit. Using a towel or old jumper with your scent on it can help your dog to bond with you.
Yes. Make sure they are familiar with their name before you take them to an off lead park. Teach the new name by associating it with a reward, like a food treat or praise.
Puppies should not sleep outside as they get cold easily. They are used to sleeping with their littermates so may get lonely and distressed.
Dogs can sleep outside in a warm, well-ventilated and cosy shelter with plenty of access to fresh, clean water. However, the SPCA recommends allowing your dog to sleep inside as dogs are part of the family.
We do not recommend chaining or tethering a dog as this causes distress and injuries. It can also lead to behavioural issues as the dog cannot escape from perceived danger.
If a shelter or kennel is provided, it should be placed in a quiet area away from high traffic areas and neighbourhood distractions.
You should find a local vet early in case your dog becomes ill suddenly. Check local websites or get recommendations from other dog owners.
Once your dog is fully vaccinated, you can go for walks. Practise walking on the lead in the back yard. Do not let your dog off lead until you know it will come when you call. Only let your dog off lead in permitted areas.
A socialised puppy turns into a well-adjusted, friendly dog. Click here for more information about socialisation.
You will need to teach your dog where to toilet. Frequent visits to the garden and praise when they toilet outside will be enough for most dogs. Puppies will need a little extra help.
Crate training your dog may take some time and effort, but can be useful in a variety of situations. You can use the crate to limit the dog’s access to the house until it learns all the house rules, such as where it can and can’t go to the toilet. A crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car, giving your dog some quiet time, or providing a familiar space if you take your dog on holiday.
If you properly crate train your dog, it will become a safe place and your dog will be happy to spend time there when needed.
The crates available in the SPCA Auckland shop are collapsible, metal pens. They are easy to put up and down, and to transport or move from room to room.
The right dimensions of the crate will depend on the size of your dog. As a minimum your dog must be able to sit and stand at full height, turn around, stretch out and lie down in a natural position. If you are adopting a puppy, it is a good idea to buy a crate that he or she can grow into – that way you only have to purchase one crate.
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. Remember:
Step 1: Introducing your dog to the crate
Put the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the living room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Make sure the crate door is securely fastened open so it won’t hit and frighten your dog.
If your dog refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay – don’t force it. It may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feeding your dog meals in the crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.
If your dog whines to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Wait until the whining stops, then let your dog out. Next time, try leaving your dog in the crate for a shorter time.
Step 3: Conditioning your dog to the crate for longer time periods
Once your dog is eating regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them for short time periods while you’re home.
Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave your dog in the crate and the length of time you’re out of sight.
Step 4: Part A - Crating your dog when left alone
Once your dog is spending about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house.
You’ll want to vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although you shouldn’t crate them for a long time before you leave, anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving is fine.
Step 4: Part B - Crating your dog at night
Too much time in the crate
A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.
It is never acceptable to shut your dog in the crate all day while you go to work. Adult dogs who have been successfully trained to have a positive association with their crate and view it as a safe haven are normally quite happy to spend about three hours during the day in their crate. They should not be left in the crate for longer than this.
Puppies are unable to hold their bladders and bowels like adult dogs can and this needs to be considered when leaving them in their crate. Puppies under 6 months of age should spend no more than 2–3 hours in a crate during the day without a toilet and play break.
If a dog spends too long in confinement, their muscle development and condition can be adversely affected. It is important that they have sufficient space and enrichment to maintain their mental and physical wellbeing.
If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether your dog is simply whining to be let out of the crate, or to go outside to the toilet. If you followed the training procedures outlined above, your dog won’t have been rewarded for whining by being released from the crate.
If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you will be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.
A crate is not a remedy for separation anxiety. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may injure themselves attempting to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitisation. See below for more information on reducing separation anxiety in dogs.
Information from: 2003-2004 Dumb Friends League. All Rights Reserved. CTYD_R0904
Dogs need a premium food for energy and health. The SPCA recommends a quality dry biscuit. Biscuits might help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and are more nutrient-dense than soft foods. Premium food is available at the SPCA and most vet clinics. Dogs need some variety in their diet – discuss options with your vet.
Your dog should have easy access to fresh, clean water at all times, inside and outside.
Puppies need high-energy puppy food for bone growth and a healthy immune system. After 12 months, most dogs need an adult dog food for healthy weight and nutrition maintenance. Larger dog breeds may need puppy food until 18 months (discuss with your vet). Dogs over seven years old need a senior diet with reduced calories, lower proteins and elements to support bone structure.
Introduce any new food gradually over one or two weeks to avoid stomach upsets. Mix new biscuits in with the old, slowly changing the proportions.
Puppies need to be fed more regularly to provide regular nutrition for growth. See the daily feeding guide on the packet for amounts.
If you already have a dog, you will have brought it to the SPCA to meet the new dog. They will be a little familiar and will have started to work out how they will interact.
If introductions don’t go well, seek professional advice immediately. The longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Most conflicts can be resolved with professional guidance.
This takes time and care. A dog can seriously injure or kill a cat, even if only playing. Some dogs have a high prey drive and should not be left alone with a cat until you are confident they are not a threat. Dogs usually want to chase and play with cats, and cats usually become afraid and defensive.
Don’t introduce your cat and dog face-to-face immediately.
Let them sniff each other’s bedding and toys to get used to each other while feeling safe. Feed them on opposite sides of a closed door, so they associate something enjoyable with each other’s smells. Gradually move the dishes closer until your pets eat calmly on either side of the door. Then try a face-to-face introduction.
1. Put your dog’s lead on and have them sit or lie down and stay. Have a second person offer your cat some special food.
2. The cat and the dog should be on opposite sides of the room. Muzzle your dog if you have concerns about initial aggression towards your cat.
3. Allow your cat freedom to explore the room. Keep rewarding your dog for calm behaviour (e.g. with praise and food treats) to reinforce appropriate behaviour around the cat. If your cat runs away or becomes aggressive, you’re progressing too fast. Go back to previous steps. Never do introductions with your cat in a cage.
4. Lots of short visits are better than a few long visits. Do this until both pets are tolerating each other’s presence without fear, excitement or aggression. Never allow the dog to chase, as once this starts it changes from play to hunting. Ensure your cat has an escape route and a place to hide. Cats like to be able to climb higher than your dog. Until you’re certain your cat will be safe, keep them separated when you aren’t home.
Teach your dog that chasing or rough play is unacceptable. Reward your dog for good behaviour.
If your dog is always punished and ‘good things’ never happen in the cat’s presence, it may redirect aggression toward the cat.
Exercise is important. Unless they are injured or ill, dogs need exercise every day – rain or shine.
Walking on a lead – this is just as important as running off lead. It teaches your dog to stay by your side and pay attention to you. Practise walking at different paces, about turns, sudden stops and commands to sit.
Off lead – before letting your dog run off lead it is important they know the command ‘come’. Use a long line at first if you are unsure if your dog will return. Add some structure into off lead runs. Call your dog to you and release them regularly so you have control and work on their recall. Do this in a safe area away from busy roads.
Fetch – Make your dog sit before you throw a ball. Praise your dog for returning and releasing the ball. If your dog becomes possessive over toys, find a spot without other dogs and work on this issue at home. Try a Frisbee instead of a ball for variety. We do not recommend throwing sticks as these can injure dogs.
Play is also good for dogs – it makes them happy and exercises their brains. Always play using toys, not your hands or feet, and do not rough play with your dog.
Treat balls are a great entertainer. Remove the amount you put in the treat ball from your dog’s next meal.
Paddling pools are great to cool off in summer and for water play.
Frozen treats can entertain your dog in summer. Freeze liquid meat stock in an ice cream container. Remove the lid for a giant ice block.
Toy variety means your dog doesn’t get bored.
In multi-dog households always supervise dogs with treats or toys.
To develop a good relationship with your dog, it is important to teach them some skills that will help them live harmoniously in your home. Learning how to train your dog will improve your life and theirs, strengthen the human-animal bond, and ensure your dog’s safety – and it can be a lot of fun.
If you would like a well-mannered dog, teaching your dog a few basic commands can help a lot. It is really useful for your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’ to help your dog control their impulses, and help you control your dog. If your dog is sitting, it can not do other things such as jumping up, begging at the table or running up to greet your visitors.
Dogs are keen to learn, and the key to success is good, clear communication. Your dog needs to understand how you’d like them to behave. You do this by rewarding behaviours you like with food, praise and pats. Do not reward behaviours you don’t like. However you would like your dog to behave, be consistent – that goes for all the members of your family.
Some dogs get separation anxiety. It can be caused by your daily comings and goings, or changes that mean your dog is at home alone more often.
It can result in excessive barking or destructive behaviour. Your dog may chew itself excessively or toilet in the house. It is not done to annoy you – your dog is expressing anxiety and a need for help.
Consistency by ALL family members in managing behaviour is key. Teaching your dog acceptable alternative behaviour will work best.
For example, when puppies play, they use their mouths, so may bite or ‘mouth’ your hand. This is a difficult behaviour to change. Offer acceptable objects such as toys instead. This is good for children to learn. Scratch behind the ears with one hand and offer the toy with the other.
Teach your dog that unwanted behaviour results in unpleasant consequences, such as no attention or social interaction. Remember even if you push your dog away, they are still getting attention.
For example, if your dog jumps up when they want attention:
Turn away and ignore them or say ‘off’.
Continue to turn away until all four paws are on the ground, then quietly praise. If your dog knows the ‘sit’ command, give the command, then quietly praise when sitting.
If your dog begins to jump while you’re praising, simply turn away again.
Your dog will realise you remove attention when they jump up, but give attention when they sit. Always reward good behaviour. Be careful not to ignore the dog/puppy when they come and sit politely, waiting for attention.
Never tap, slap, or hit your dog. This can create many problems, such as ‘hand-shyness’, fear biting, or a dog that is distressed and afraid of you.
It’s very difficult for children under eight to practice behaviour management. Children’s first reaction to being nipped or mouthed is to push them away. The dog might interpret this as play and repeat the behaviour. Adults should closely monitor all interactions between their children and dogs.
Vaccinations against disease are critical throughout your dog’s life. The SPCA gives most initial vaccinations and a health card recording them. Check this for the due date of future vaccinations and arrange with your vet.
Young puppies may not have completed all vaccinations. We will alert you to this. Your puppy needs to be fully vaccinated before you take them off your property.
Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a bacterial infection which can cause serious illness in dogs. It is the #1 infectious cause of acute renal (kidney) failure in dogs.
It is transmitted between dogs and people by contacting infected urine or water. Pets contract it through infected urine, water, bite wounds and eating infected tissue. It can also be transmitted through breeding.
The SPCA does NOT routinely vaccinate against Lepto due to limited resources.We strongly encourage you to discuss this vaccine with your vet.
Fleas can cause your dog discomfort with painful itchy patches. Fleas can spread to your home and family. If your dog has fleas they will be itching and scratching and you may see fleas or flea dirt in their coat.
Dogs can get worms. Many live in the gut and can cause malnutrition and even anemia. Young puppies can die from severe cases. Some types of worms can spread to humans. Cleaning up your dog’s faeces and general good hygiene help prevent this.
It can be difficult to detect if your dog has worms. Symptoms include tiredness, a dull coat, diarrhoea or bloody stools, weight loss, a pot-bellied appearance or ‘scooting’ their bottom along the ground.
Regular treatments will help keep your dog free of fleas and worms. Check your dog’s health card for treatment dates. The SPCA and your vet have safe, effective flea and worm treatments.
Regular grooming is a good way to calmly interact with your dog and help detect health concerns. Even dogs with short coats need regular grooming and most dogs need their nails clipped. It is good to start this from a young age.
Contact your vet if you are concerned about the health of your dog. Take your dog for a check-up at least once a year. This can be done at vaccination time to ensure early detection of problems.
NEVER give a dog human medicine such as Panadol or Aspirin as these can be harmful or even fatal.
All SPCA dogs are microchipped and registered. It is ESSENTIAL to keep these details up-to-date if you move house or your contact numbers change. Your dog must be registered every year.
At the SPCA we receive many lost dogs that we cannot reunite with their owners because the microchip and registration details are not updated.
As a dog owner, you have many legal obligations. Below is a summary of some of these.
The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires you provide:
The Dog Control Act 1996 requires your dog to be under control so it does not:
When on your property your dog must be: