Adopting Older Dogs
Most people get conditioned while still in childhood to start at the beginning. After all, when counting, people start with the number one. When singing, they begin with the first words of the song. When plotting a course, they first input the starting point. Therefore, their surprise is understandable when they realize that it isn’t always necessary to start at the beginning to get where you wish to go.
By way of example, consider the movies you’ve tuned into after their beginning, to enjoy through to the end. The same is true for most sporting events. It is the ending that matters, not the beginning! Also, parties are far more fun once they get going! The adoption of a new pet is much the same. Whenever you’re choosing a new dog, remember that it isn’t always necessary, (or even desirable or wise) to get a puppy. Instead, consider the Benefits of adopting older dogs, for they are many.
Why Adopt Older Dogs?
There are a number of reasons why an older dog is likely to be a better fit for a family than a puppy. Some of the more prevalent ones include:
Older dogs are more predictable. A puppy will develop both mentally and physically for a year or more, and will go through a number of changes. They require extensive socialization if they are to make well-rounded adult dogs later in life, and it isn’t always possible to tell what a dog will look like or how big he will be when he is still a puppy. Adult dogs fall into the “what you see is what you get” category, a reality that many people find reassuring.
They tend to be better behaved. Most dogs are considered seniors at around the age of seven, although size is a factor in longevity, as small dogs in general tend to outlive larger ones. By this age, most dogs are already housebroken, are proficient in basic obedience, and understand a fairly extensive vocabulary of spoken words. They tend to be far calmer in demeanor than a rambunctious puppy.
Older dogs adjust quickly. One of the great things about dogs is that they live in the moment, and are almost always ready for life’s next adventure. Therefore, an older dog is likely to settle into a new home more readily than will a puppy, who is likely to miss his litter mates and cry for them. Well-adjusted older dogs are generally philosophical about change.
What are the Risks of Adopting Older Dogs?
The risks associated with the adoption of older dogs are not as great as many people imagine, although there are some factors to consider. Many people fear the reason that an older dog ended up in a shelter. It should be a great relief to realize that, generally speaking, there is rarely something “wrong” with the dogs that are surrendered. Far more often, there is something wrong in the human’s life that surrendered the dog.
People develop allergies, have children, have to move to places that are not pet friendly, and lose jobs. These are but a few of the reasons someone might surrender a dog. There are two primary risks involved with the adoption of an older dog. One, older dogs are more prone to joint complaints such as arthritis. Like people, they tend to grow more stiff with age. Two, the fact that a dog is already several years old means that the person adopting him will not have as much time to spend with him as he might were he getting a puppy.
What must I ask about an Older Dog?
When Adopting Older Dogs, ask about the dog’s history. Try and get as much information as possible about him. Collect any available veterinary records, and ask about why the dog was placed into the rescue or shelter. Recognize the importance of a good “fit.” For example, a retired couple might choose to adopt a dog that was surrendered because it growled at twin toddlers that were permitted to climb on him.
The information is good to know, but the dog is unlikely to encounter this sort of situation in his new home. The same is true of a dog that chased chickens on a farm who goes to a fenced yard in the suburbs. The information is worth filing away, but the circumstance isn’t one that’s likely to ever be a problem.
Old dogs have soul. They might have a few miles on them, and have no doubt had a range of life experiences that have helped them to mellow. Most people find that senior dogs are loving, attentive, and affectionate without being boisterous. They often seem to communicate a tremendous sense of gratitude to those who provide them with homes. Many people prefer adopting senior dogs to puppies, and say they are the most rewarding of all!