Caring for your Dog

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Before Adopting 

Dogs are a big responsibility that require daily attention and exercise for up to 20 years. Many breeds also need daily grooming. If you're not sure if you have enough time, please wait to adopt a dog.

Dogs are expensive and they need veterinary care and obedience training. You might want to prepare for emergencies by setting aside money in a special account or by purchasing pet insurance for your dog. Your veterinarian will be able to speak with you about the many available options. 

Dogs must be spayed or neutered so they don't contribute to the homeless animal population. This is an investment into your dog’s long-term health. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you with any questions or concerns. 

Safety Tips

  • Never let your dog run at large. Even well-trained dogs can get lost, stolen or hit by cars. Leaving animals tied outside stores is also risky and dangerous for your pet. A leash should always be used on walks (trained dogs may attend leash-free parks, but must be supervised at all times.)
  • Your dog should be supervised around small children and when meeting new animals. A dog's guardian is responsible for PDF icon Dog Bite Prevention (43.5 KB). If your dog bites someone, you can be prosecuted under the Ontario's Dog Owners' Liability Act.
  • Don't leave your dog unattended on a choke chain. The chain could get caught and strangle the dog.
  • Leave your dog at home on hot days. Even with the windows open, the temperature in a car quickly reaches deadly levels.
  • Proper identification could save your dog's life if they ever wander and become lost. A collar, tag and microchip implant are recommended. 


  • Ask your veterinarian to recommend a suitable diet for your dog.
  • Your dog should receive appropriate vaccinations and annual check-ups.
  • Consult your veterinarian if you notice any unusual signs, such as persistent coughing, loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Watch for fleas, swellings, rashes, hair loss, tender spots and any change in weight, bladder or bowel habits.


  • Dogs should live full lives as family members. Nearly all dogs need training. Humane trainers use methods that help guardians relate to their dogs, and never advise hitting or other punishment.
  • It's never too late to house-train your dog. A crate, used humanely, can be very helpful. Consult a humane, reputable trainer for guidance.
  • Every dog is different, and so is every person. A good trainer will take individual needs into account and won't bully you into doing anything that seems wrong.

Responsible Care Checklist

  • Proper identification
  • Spayed or neutered
  • Healthy, safe and stimulating environment
  • Veterinary visits every year for check-ups and vaccinations, or in the presence of any unusual signs
  • Adequate food, water and shelter
  • Plenty of exercise for his or her breed and age
  • Groomed as often as necessary for his or her breed
  • Obedience trained using humane methods
  • Supervised around small children
  • Supervised and leashed at all times when out in public