Guide to getting a dog

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

Head over heart

  • Avoid hasty decisions like getting a dog just because it was "cute"
  • If you have kids - research the temperament of the dog you are thinking of buying/adopting
  • Find out if any of the family have allergies that may make keeping the dog impossible

Small things to watch out for

  • The demand for teacup puppies has resulted in opportunists selling a regular size pup as being a "teacup" then they grow up to be full size dogs.
  • Make sure the pup is no younger than 8 weeks old. If you are getting a pup at that age, get full details of vaccinations given - they will not be complete - the final batch can only be done for a 10 week old pup.
  • Make sure the microchip information is updated to you as the new owner - you want to be contactable if anything happens your beloved pooch.

Visit the dog's home

  • Make sure you are buying/acquiring your dog from a reputable source.
  • If you're buying a dog, go to the premises, see the conditions, see the mother, see any other pups that might be there.
  • Don't meet the seller/donator at any other location (eg the side of the road) other than where the animal has been kept.
  • Assess the cleanliness and general suitability of the place where you get the dog.
  • If you feel the pups came from a kennels, ensure that they have a license.
  • Sellers with more than six breeding bitches need a license, this is in line with the recent Dog Breeding Establishment Act.
  • If you have any concerns alert the ISPCA.

Animal health issues to watch out for

  • Ensure that the animals aren't too thin, watch out for skin infestations.
  • Pot bellies are indications of internal parasites.
  • If you have concerns that the dog you acquired is coming from a place where cruel or unsuitable practises are being carried out, alert the authorities.
  • If you are getting the dog from a pound or an animal shelter, make sure and get a full history of the previous homes of the animal, what medication he requires etc.

Understand breeds

  • Research the grooming commitments that some breeds require and the costs. They don't stay beautiful and fluffy for long.
  • Not all breeds of dog are registered pure breed. Check if it's a pure breed or just a mixed breed via the Irish Kennel Club.

Make preparations

  • Decide whether you plan on having an outdoor or indoor dog and prepare accordingly.
  • Whether you intend to keep the dog in or out aim for consistency from the start. If you have a dog indoors initially and then leave it outside it may cause him to bark or cry.
  • A noisy dog can lead to complaints from neighboring houses in built up areas. You can be fined and if it cannot be controlled the dog warden can actually take the dog from you under the Control of Dogs Act.
  • It may seem obvious but make sure you have a clean environment at home for your dog.


  • Have proper bedding.
  • This may come as a surprise but newspapers are the best thing for a dog to sleep on.
  • Avoid using straw, because they can contain lice and parasites.
  • Similarly parasites can live in blankets and cushions.
  • Newspapers can be changed regularly and dogs are happy to sleep on flat surfaces.

Toilet training

  • If you're acquiring a pup, toilet training will be your biggest challenge.
  • One option which works quite successfully is to buy a cage that the dog stays in while you're out of the house.
  • A dog is unlikely to soil his own area where he also sleeps, so he will wait for you to come home and let him outdoors to go about his business.

Food and entertainment

  • Make sure and have a supply of good dog food from a reputable brand and always have puppy food for a young dog.
  • A lead and chew toys are essentials to keep your dog occupied.


  • It's an absolute must that dogs get the required shots.
  • Some pups will come with their initial injection but you need to check.
  • From ten weeks a dog is ready for full vaccination, which involves one injection two weeks apart, at a cost of €60 to €70 per visit. You should discuss this with your vet.

Worm doses

  • Dogs need regular worm doses. Worm tablets can be bought in a veterinary clinic, a supermarket or a chemist.
  • Worms can be passed onto children so you should worm the whole family once a dog arrives.
  • A pup up to three months should be wormed every few weeks.
  • After three months, worm them once a month until they are six months old.
  • From six months onwards, a dog is wormed every six months for life.


  • Most vets will recommend you neuter your dog, male or female.
  • This will cost you around €100 and a dog will be ready for neutering from 6 months onwards.

Micro-chips and licenses

  • It's now compulsory to micro-chip your dog, due to recent legislation that has been introduced.
  • You will also need a dog license which can be purchased for relatively little money at any post office.

Time investment

  • In general it's essential when getting a dog that you are prepared to spend a lot of time with the animal.
  • Dogs need love, attention and plenty of exercise.
  • A daily walk is a must, both to let the dog expend energy, and go to the toilet.

We chatted to Dan O'Neill, Veterinary Surgeon with Abbeyside Veterinary Hospital Kilkenny.