6 Tips for Dog Adoption in Korea
Meg Cale
There is nothing easy about the first few months of puppy life mix in a language barrier and full-time job it becomes a little nuts.  Our friends thought we were insane when we adopted a dog in Korea. They’re right. It was insane. With 5 am wake-up calls and potty training, puppy life can be a full-time job. 
We adopted the cutest, spunkiest 3-month-old Dachshund and named her Bailey.  Here are some tips we picked up mostly through trail and error along the way. 
Bailey quickly settled in for a nap with Meg.

Apartment Living

People in Korea live in apartments. More people in western countries are used to living in houses. Raising a puppy in an apartment is a whole new ball game for many reasons.  First, make sure your pup is getting enough exercise. A tired dog is always a more well-behaved dog.  They’re babies so that will spend a lot of time just sleeping. If they’re at that drive you nuts, chews on everything stage get them a good rope toy to chew and make sure you’re taking them to run and play. Luckily the park across the street from us that has become Bailey’s favorite spot to burn some puppy energy. 

House Training

The Korean Vet with met with recommended that we put Bailey on indoor specific dog food. We quickly learned that living in an apartment on the 16th floor meant we would be pee pad training her rather than the traditional grass method.  This food is designed to reduce smelliness and poop in general. That may be desirable for some folks but we were more worried about her health. We opted for the regular puppy food and worried about the poops as they happen. Speaking of puppy training, try to get the same brand puppy pads that were used by the rescue/breeder/store where you got the pup. This helps to keep pee-pad training consistent and makes for a smoother transition. This is not a guarantee, house training can be challenging for everyone. 

Find a Vet
Finding a Vet that speaks your language will make your life so much easier. It is worth the extra effort initially. Puppies are like babies and are more prone to get hurt or sick when they are little. When you are panicking about a sick pup the added complication of translation can be upsetting. We found a great vet here in Ansan, right near Gojan station. It’s called Green Pet, they speak reasonable amounts of English and went out of their way to make sure we felt taken care of and accommodated when our pup was getting her check up and have her shots.

Do not let the cute face fool you. She eventually destroyed this entire couch from chewing.

Plan Ahead

International travel is an important part of most expats lives in Korea. During my one-year teaching contract, I was able to visit Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Make sure you have a solid chunk of time between the time you get your pup and the time you plan to make your next trip. Your dog must be vaccinated to be around other dogs and to travel internationally. Which means if you plan to travel before your pup is 5 months old the dog will need a private pet sitter without any other dogs because they must be vaccinated before they can travel or stay in a kennel. Some kennels may take them if they are close to finished, but then the pup will have to stay inside one of the individual kennels the entire time you’re gone and won’t be able to be out with the other dogs to play. We used Rover once for Bailey when she was small and she went to a Puppy Cafe for other trips. We had good experiences with both. A good thing to keep in mind is at the cafe your dog is ALWAYS around other dogs. Bailey is really social and playful so it worked but it could be super stressful for other dogs. 

Read Airline Pet Policies

Different airlines have different policies for traveling with animals. For example, Air Asia in Korea has a no pets in the cabin policy but allows kenneled dogs under the plane in the cargo hold. Read the fine print very carefully and know ALL the details of what you are getting into before you book your flight. Also, make sure you call to book your flight instead of ordering online. That way you can be sure the sales clerk knows you’re traveling with an animal. Pro Tip: Be sure you are calling the Korean Branch of whatever airline you are flying.  We called to confirm Bailey’s seat on the flight from Seoul to Dallas 4 separate times before arriving at the airport. Each time we were told everything was good to go. Upon arrival at the check in desk I was told I was unable to fly with her. Many many tears (both mine and hers) later I was told I confirmed with the Airline Branch in the US who does not communicate directly with the one in Korea. In the end, I was transferred to a different airline and was able to fly out with my baby 24hrs later. 

Pet Immigration Rules

Countries’ pet policies vary. Make sure you do your research.  Your dog could end up in quarantine for a significant period if you don’t do your homework.  For information on traveling with the dog to the United States, check out the CDC’s information page.


Bailey is now a well travel 4yr old dog living in Merida, Mexico with us and her sister Mackenzie. There is no doubt having four legged family members makes traveling more difficult sometimes. We have certainly picked up some additional tips and tricks these last 4 years.

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