Adopting a Dog in Kampala

Adopting a Dog in Kampala

Adopting a new dog can be one of life’s most rewarding pleasures. You are bringing in a new member into the household and watching as it grows and thrives. Dog ownership in Kampala can be a bit trickier to navigate than other countries. Shops and vets are often harder to find and off-leash parks are nearly nonexistent. However, with a few modifications, you’ll have no problem raising a happy and healthy best friend.

Dog breeders do exist in Kampala, but for those looking for an affordable and humane option, the USPCA in Mbuya is a great place to visit. The shelter houses a number of dogs of all different breeds and ages. No appointment is necessary. When you arrive simply head to the front desk and ask to see the dogs available for adoption. One of the attendants will take you out back and ask you a few questions about what age, breed and gender you are looking for. There are usually anywhere from 30-60 dogs at the shelter with a large variety of breed, age, and disposition available.

When considering adoption, first consider your space and ability to spend time with a dog. Those with demanding schedules might not do best with a young puppy, who will be in need of lots of training guidance. Similarly, those with zero dog experience might want to shy away from dogs that have temperament issues. Every single dog there deserves a loving home, but they need the right home to flourish, so be honest about your own constraints and abilities. It’s best to have a nice, leisurely walk around the shelter and spend some real time with any dog that stands out to you. Play with as many as you like and take your time asking health and history questions to the attendant.

Now that you’ve picked out your new addition, it’s time to take it to the vet. Luckily the USPCA has a vet on site that will help begin your dog’s new paperwork, check its overall health, and give any vaccinations that are necessary. For older dogs, it’s worth ensuring that they are spade or neutered or an appointment is made to do so.

Now bring that dog home! Make sure you have dog food, a water dish (that is constantly filled with fresh water), bedding, and some chews for the dog. There is a fairly prevalent belief around that since the dogs here are ‘African’ they are hardier and don’t need the comforts of Western dogs. However, the vets at the USPCA stress that every single dog you adopt must be provided with proper bedding, proper shelter, proper nutrition, and proper training. These are the non-negotiables in any dog ownership.

Affordable bedding can be easily made by a local tailor. Pick out some soft, sturdy fabric and some foam and ask them to create a sizable place for your dog to sleep. Likewise, a dog shelter can be made quite cheaply by employing local carpenters. For dog food there are a few options. Kibble for puppies to adult dogs is available at Shoprite and beef bones can be picked up from a local butcher for incredibly cheap prices. It is also easy to make your own mixture using rice, beef, and a few vegetables, with plenty of recipes available online. It’s worth noting that chicken bones can be damaging to your dogs digestive system and cause internal bleeding and death in some cases, so weigh the risks when picking out bones. Anything that splinters is just not worth risking your dog’s life over.

For your dog’s coat Spectra brand dog shampoo comes recommended by some of Kampala’s top trainers and can be found in most vet offices. For ticks and fleas, The Veterinary Surgery in Mbuya offers Frontline and a variety of washes aimed at killing ticks. Dog collars, leashes, toys and chews can be found at Shoprite. Chews are essential and will give your dogs something to play with (that doesn’t include your furniture). If you get a puppy, you can be pretty sure they’ll go through that notorious chewing phase and if you get an older dog that goes after their own bedding or your sofas, it is likely due to boredom. Of course, such issues need to be dealt with through proper play and training.

For those who have experience training a dog, this can be a really fun time. You get to teach your new dog about it’s home, family, and place within it. For those who have no idea how to make a dog sit and stay, there are some great dog trainers in Kampala that can help you keep your pup in line.

Training in Kampala can be a frustrating experience due, largely, to misconceptions about guard dogs. Most people want a dog to provide them with some protection from break-ins (noting that most thieves here are notoriously scared of our canine companions). However, for those unfamiliar with dog ownership, mistakes are often made differentiating between ‘guard dog’ and ‘attack dog’. Guard dogs simply alert you to problems via their bark and wait for your reaction. They should not attack unless they sense you are in imminent danger (being thrown around or yelling for help). For instance, if you’re fine with the person in your compound, your dog should be too. As the ‘leader’ they should look to you for their social cues. However, if an attack dog is what you’re looking for, first understand that this is varsity-level training and should not be attempted with all dogs or without the supervision of a professional trainer, preferably one who has trained police dogs in the past. Creating a safe, loving dog that also attacks on command takes an incredible amount of training, time and consistency. So be prepared to have your work cut out for you.

Yet, the basics of raising a happy, healthy socialized dog is incredibly simple at its core. Food and water, lots of play and exercise, and consistent, level-headed training. With these rules you will likely forge a bond that can last nearly a lifetime. As a personal note, my two dogs are from the USPCA. They are Ugandan mutts and while tenacious as can be, respond well to training and are incredibly sweet and loyal.

Or course, for many, their jobs here in Uganda are temporary and even if that means 5-10 years, most dogs will outlive that. So coming up on Living in Kampala we’ll have another edition on dogs (and pets in general), detailing step by step how to move your dog back to your home country. The cost, the safety measures, and the paperwork to keep your dog by your side. Until then!


Phone: 0772 403 789

The Haven Shelter

Phone: 0774 844 108

A to Z Mobile Dog Training

Phone: 0702 822 340


Veterinary Surgery

Phone: 0712 868 673 or 0312 282 231

About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at