What to Know Before You Adopt a Dog

Looking to adopt a dog, but not sure where to start? The pet insurance experts at PD Insurance reveal all you need to know about bringing home an adopted dog.

Which dog is best for you?

The first step in adopting a dog in New Zealand is to decide what type of dog will best suit you before you hit the shelters.

Consider factors such as size, activity level, and temperament. Estimate how much they’ll likely cost you throughout their lifetime. Some eat a lot more, require more training, need more stimulation through toys and equipment, are prone to more health issues and so on.

There are a variety of breeds, mixes and ages available, so it’s important to do your research and decide which is the best fit for you and your lifestyle.

One of the most popular choices for a new pet owner is the Labrador Retriever. This breed is known for being loyal, gentle, and easy to train. Labradors are also great with children and are very loving and devoted to their owners.

If you’re looking for a smaller breed dog to adopt in NZ, the Jack Russell Terrier might be a great option. This breed is full of energy and loves to play. They’re also very intelligent and can be easily trained. Not keen on so much activity? Perhaps a Dachshund is a better fit.

New Zealand is also home to many working breeds, like the Huntaway and the Border Collie. These breeds are incredibly smart and can be trained to obey commands and complete various tasks. They’re also great with kids and make excellent guard dogs. They’ll need plenty of exercise, though.

The Corgi is another great breed for Kiwi families. This small breed is incredibly loyal and loves to cuddle. They’re also very easy to train and get along great with children.

Where is it best to adopt from?

Once you have decided on the type of dog you want, the next step is to find a reputable rescue organisation or shelter. Research the organisations available in your area to find one that fits your needs. Many organisations have websites where you can view pictures and read more about the dogs they have available.

Compare Pet Insurance with Canstar

Looking for pet insurance that delivers great customer satisfaction? Each year, we release our Most Satisfied Customers | Pet Insurance Award and Star Ratings. Below is an abridged version of our full awards, which you can view here.

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See here for our ratings methodology. The table above is an abridged version of our research. For the full results of our 2022 Pet Insurance Most Satisfied Customers Award, click here.

Fill out an application

When you have chosen a rescue shelter and found your ideal dog, the next step is to fill out an adoption application. This application will ask for your contact information as well as information about your home and lifestyle. The shelter will use this information to determine if you’re an appropriate fit for the dog you’re interested in.

Once your application is approved, you’ll be able to spend quality time with the animal and meet them in person. This is a great opportunity to get to know the dog and make sure he or she is the right choice for you and your family. Ask any questions you have and be sure to spend enough time interacting with the animal.

Once you’ve decided to adopt the dog, you need to provide proof of identification and sign an adoption agreement. This will outline the terms of the adoption, such as who’s responsible for the dog’s care and who’ll be responsible for any veterinary bills. Make sure your home is prepared for your new pet.

How to puppy-proof your home

Set up a safe, comfortable space for your dog, and have plenty of food, water, and toys on hand. You’ll need to do things like pack away cords, shoes, and other low-lying valuables. Pick up your plants and put them somewhere high, remembering to remove dangerous plants from inside and outside the house.

What you need before picking up your dog

Before bringing home an adopted dog, you’ll also need:

  • A dog harness or carrier for transporting home
  • An appropriate sized create or dog bed, plus bedding
  • Baby gates to prevent access to parts of your home
  • Chew toys/balls
  • Collar with an ID tag
  • Lead and poop bags
  • Treats for training
  • Food and water bowls
  • Dog insurance

What to expect

No matter how happy and healthy a dog was before you met him/her, being in a shelter or foster home can be stressful and confusing. You need to be mindful of that when bringing home an adopted dog. They’ll be unclear about their future and for this reason, will be in self-preservation mode. They may not begin to show their real personality for a few weeks or months.

In these early days and weeks, it’s important you set firm boundaries and establish a routine, so your dog will know what you expect of them. This will help them feel confident and safe. Understanding this will help you avoid some common mistakes.

If after about six weeks you’re struggling with some niggling problems, speak to a puppy school in NZ or a professional dog trainer (if you haven’t already).

How to help your dog settle in

  • Be patient and give them time to adapt to their new surroundings
  • Establish a routine
  • Exercise them daily through walks or playing fetch
  • Let them come to you. Coddling can cause separation anxiety
  • Have a dedicated sleeping area/bed for them
  • Be calm but firm when training
  • Use positive reinforcement and reassurance, through treats and praise
  • Introduce new pets and people slowly
  • Keep them on a leash until they learn basic commands

Health issues to be aware of

Adopted dogs may have medical conditions that require special care or medications, such as allergies or joint issues. Keeping up with regular vet visits can help keep these conditions under control. Keep an eye out for dental problems when you adopt a dog in NZ. Research reported by Animates says 80% of dogs and cats over three years old in New Zealand have dental problems. That’s four out of five pets who need dental work.

Do you need pet insurance?

After you adopt a dog in NZ, over the years, vet bills can cost thousands. It makes sense to protect yourself from this extra cost. If your dog gets sick or has an accident (or several), you don’t want to make a love versus finance decision. PD Insurance offers three pet insurance policies to keep your dog safe.


PD Insurance specialises in low-cost, high-value pet insurance that can cushion against hefty vet bills for tests, treatments, medication and more. The three simple policies offered by PD Insurance offer the quality protection your furry family member deserves, with no lock-in contracts. In addition, you can go to any vet of your choice, plus you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as your needs change.

PD gives you one or more months of award winning pet insurance for FREE when you buy your plan online. Simply click below to get a quote today.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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