Canine care tips

Tips to keep man's best friend healthy and happy

Have you brought home a dog or puppy who is turning your house upside down? It’s an exciting time while they’re settling in so we’ve included some helpful resources on looking after your dog.

Small dog leaping off a trampoline

Registration and microchipping

When your dog reaches three months of age in Victoria, they must be registered with your local council and that registration needs renewal every April. If your dog hasn’t been registered before, they’ll also need to be microchipped first.

This involves your veterinarian implanting a small computer chip in your dog that contains your contact information and your dog’s details. Microchips last the life of your pet and help you be reunited with your furry friend if they ever get lost.  

Local councils set registration fees and you may be eligible for a discount if your dog is de-sexed, over a certain age, or meets other criteria. We recommend contacting your local council to find out what its pet registration fees are.

Registration fees help your council fund things like:

  • Dog parks and animal shelters;
  • Animal management staff who patrol local parks, check animal welfare standards in businesses like boarding kennels, and help return lost dogs to their owners;
  • Pet safety education courses for schools;
  • Responsible pet ownership publications and courses;
  • And more

With the RACV Pet Insurance optional ‘Tender Loving Care’ benefit, you can claim the cost of your dog’s council registration or microchipping up to the annual limit of $100.  

Woman in lounge room with dog

Puppy training tips

A puppy jumping on your guests and chasing things is cute when they’re small, but as they grow up it can be a frustrating behaviour to deal with. The best way to raise a well-behaved dog is to start teaching obedience habits while they’re young.

Here are some of our tips for training your dog:

  • Start with a puppy school, as this is a great way to socialise your puppy with other dogs in a safe environment. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend one, or you can find obedience training organisations at agriculture.vic.gov.au
  • Stick to short and simple commands, like 'sit', 'stay', 'lie down' and 'no'
  • Use a consistent tone of voice and reinforce good behaviour with verbal praise, treats and pats
  • Ignore unwanted behaviour while training so your dog doesn’t start to expect attention when they do things you don’t want them to do
  • Training is continuous throughout a dog’s life. You should spend a short amount of time each day training them and taking the time to positively reinforce good behaviour

How often should I take my dog to the vet?

It’s recommended you take your dog to the vet at least once a year for a check-up, and more frequently for senior dogs.

If you think your dog may be sick or injured, take them to the vet immediately. And remember to keep copies of vet treatments and invoices for pet insurance claims

Give your pet a home away from home while you're on holiday. RACV members save 10% when pre-booking the Hanrob Pet Hotel.

How often should I walk my dog?

While some dog breeds are more energetic than others, it’s still important to take your dog for a walk around your local area or a park each day. Exercise, walks and play are essential to maintaining your dog’s mental and physical wellbeing. Do your research to find out what’s best for your dog’s breed. 

If you have an energetic dog, look for an off-leash park in your area so they can socialise with other dogs, run freely and expend any restless energy. This is also a good way to manage your dog’s boredom which can result in barking or digging behaviours. If you have a busy lifestyle or work long hours, think about hiring a local dog walker or enrolling your dog into a doggy day care program is a great way to keep them out of trouble.

Make sure to check the weather forecast before venturing outside with your four-legged friend. If it’s too hot, your dog could damage their paws or suffer heat stress. Instead, walk them early in the morning, late in the evening, or another good alternative is to go to a dog beach so they can swim and cool down. 

Dog grooming tips

Grooming requirements can vary from dog breed to dog breed, so it’s important to research what’s best for your furry friend. Some general tips for grooming your dog are:

  • Nails: Trim your dog’s nails regularly, depending on how frequently they walk on rough surfaces. If their nails are clicking on the ground while they walk, it’s time for a trim. You can learn to trim your dog's nails or ask a professional groomer to do it for you.
  • Coat: Most dogs need regular brushing to avoid matting and a bath around once a month unless they have an unfortunate habit of rolling around in the mud. Medium-haired breeds need brushing a few times a week, while many long-haired breeds will require daily brushing. Get your dog used to the brushing and bathing process while they’re young and make sure to use a specialised dog-shampoo.
  • Teeth: Maintaining dental health can help prevent major dental work as your dog ages. Giving your dog large raw bones to chew will help clean their teeth naturally, or you can brush your dog’s teeth with specialised dog toothpaste. If you need help your dog's dental health, a groomer or vet can perform teeth cleaning which may be covered by pet insurance as a preventative treatment.

Thinking about a holiday?

Conditions, limitations and exclusions to insurance cover apply. RACV Pet Insurance is issued underwritten by RACQ Insurance. Limited (ABN 50 009 704 152, AFS Licence No.233082) (‘RACQ Insurance’). RACV Pet Insurance is distributed to members of Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, by RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd ABN 74 004 131 800 AFS Licence No. 230039 (‘RACV’). RACV distributes insurance on behalf of the insurer, RACQ Insurance. If you purchase a policy RACV will receive a commission that is a percentage of the base premium. RACV does not provide advice on RACV Pet Insurance. Before you make a decision, please carefully read check the relevant policy documents including the Product Disclosure Statement, available from RACV.