Did you grow up always wishing for a dog to play with but your parents just never allowed it? You’re not alone! So many dream of getting a furry friend to join their household the moment they have a place of their own.
But taking care of a canine companion is a serious responsibility because when you bring one into your home, the safety and wellbeing of it and those around you, rests squarely on your shoulders.
So before you run out to buy or adopt one, here’s a few pointers to help you understand your obligations as a first-time pet owner in relation to your home and neighbourhood.
Housebreaking, which is teaching your pet where to relieve itself, is probably one of the most important parts of training. You’ll have a much easier time maintaining your home’s cleanliness and condition when your pet is successfully housebroken. On the other hand, if you allow your pet to relieve itself anywhere in your home, know that its urine can actually damage wooden flooring, stain carpeted rooms as well leave a lingering odour. On a side note, the best types of flooring for pet owners are stone, porcelain or ceramic tile, vinyl, bamboo and cork.
If you aren’t sure of how to manage and train new puppies, do consider taking a quick course; the SPCA actually runs a 4-hour Dog Care Program for first-time pet owners. Adult dogs can be trained as well; places like Puppycom Dog Training School or Knine Professional Dog Services accept grownup dogs for obedience programs.
Responsibilities of Being a Dog Owner
Apart from feeding, exercise and healthcare, bringing your dog into your home and neighbourhood comes with a certain set of duties. In fact, local municipalities have outlined the responsibilities of dog owners, some of which are
- ensuring that doggy waste products are cleaned frequently and water from cleaning does not flow into a neighbour’s home,
- keeping the home clean and free from dog odours, and
- preventing pets from loud and continuous barking.
In addition to all these, you also need to get a license for your dog, which can be a trying process in certain municipalities.
Getting a Dog License
Now depending on where in Malaysia you live, the stipulations for obtaining a dog license will differ, but most municipalities will insist that dogs be vaccinated against rabies and that licenses need to be applied as soon as pups turn three months old. In addition, landed residential properties that measure at 1,000 square feet and below are allowed to house one to two dogs while homes larger than that may keep up to four dogs.
Here is more key information from various municipalities regarding licenses:
If you live under the municipality of Subang Jaya, you’ll need to apply for a dog licence with a certificate of vaccination against viruses such as canine distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis. The license will cost RM10 for dogs that have been spayed or neutered and RM20 for those that have not. Note that if you live in any kind of mid or high-rise building, whether flat, condo or shop lot house; you are not technically allowed a dog at home and no license will be issued.
In Petaling Jaya, you may still get a license for your dog if you occupy the ground-level unit of a mid-rise building. The license is charged RM15 for each and must be applied together with a picture of the dog, house and owner.
If you live in a Kuala Lumpur flat or condo, you may still keep one small dog, weighing seven kg and under. City Hall has listed the breeds considered small as Miniature Pinschers, Pomeranians and Chihuahuas amongst others.
Do check the official website of your respective municipal council for more information on dog license applications.
Banned and Restricted Dog Breeds
For breeds of dogs that have been banned in Malaysia (e.g. Akita, American Bulldog and American Pit Bull Terrier), no licenses will be issued and you are technically not allowed to keep these pets at home.
If you are thinking of getting a restricted breed dog; English Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, Bull Mastiff, Canary Dog and the German Shepherd – these are allowed, but under special stipulations.
For one, dogs of restricted breeds will need to undergo a training course called the "Canine Good Citizen" program before owners are issued a licence. You will also need to keep your home fenced properly and to put up clearly visible “Beware of Dog” signs at the front and back of your home.
Dog-owner Rights against Dogcatchers
Local municipalities hire private dogcatchers to trap, hold and eventually dispose of dogs without licenses that are caught roaming in public. However, some of these errant workers have been known to enter private properties and seize dogs for which they have no right. This is not sanctioned by the municipalities, in fact, dogcatchers aren’t allowed to enter your home without permission and confiscate your dog for simply not having a license. Instead, dog owners will most likely just be fined for such infractions.
According to a letter to Malaysiakini by an SPCA chairperson, “SPCA advises pet owners to challenge any dogcatcher that says they have the right to take your dog, and ask for names and a contact number of a supervisor.” Moreover, if you witness dogcatchers abusing dogs, be sure to report it to the SPCA immediately.
Introducing Your Pets to the Neighbourhood
Most of the time, your pets will need to be leashed and not likely allowed to run freely in your neighbourhood playground if it isn’t pet-friendly, but you should still find ways to keep them active.
One way is by walking them around your neighbourhood on a comfortable leash, which in addition to providing exercise, will help them get familiar with the area and find their way home more easily if they get lost. Alternatively, you can take your dogs to dog-friendly places and neighbourhoods for a little fresh air.
You might also want to consider looking for a home that is pet-friendly to begin with, so both you and your pet can enjoy living there together. Here are some upcoming pet-friendly property options in the Klang Valley to look into; Verge32, Melawati; Areca Contempo Homes, Cyberjaya; and Aurora Residence, Puchong.
To find more pet-friendly homes in a specific location, do use the 'Advance Search' option on PropSocial’s All Properties filter page and tick the 'pet-friendly' box.
Now you know what to expect, we hope you and your pets will have the best time together!
(Written by: Desiree Nair, 16th August 2016)