Adopting an Older Dog Pros and Cons
When you bring an older dog into your family, you're giving a gift not just to the pup but also to yourself. You're also committing to caring for a senior dog through all of life's ups and downs. When you consider adopting an older dog, it's a good idea to look at all the pros and cons first.
The Pros of Adopting an Older Dog
1. You know the dog's personality before you adopt.
You won't find any big surprises personality-wise when you adopt an older dog, especially if you spend some time with the pup first and talk to the rescue or his previous owner. Whether you need a lower energy dog for a small apartment or a high-energy dog for lots of hiking, you can get a good idea of an older dog's preferences. You also know in advance if the dog is good with children, other dogs, or cats.
2. You won't be surprised by her size.
When you adopt a puppy, especially a mixed breed, you may not be sure what you're getting. The puppy's size can be a big surprise as she grows. An older dog is already full-grown, so you know if she'll be comfortable in your home.
3. The dog may already be trained.
In many cases, older dogs are already house-trained, and they may know other tricks too. With puppies, you have to go through those difficult house-breaking moments that many older dogs are already competent in.
4. You bypass some of the more difficult puppy moments.
Speaking of the housebreaking phase, you also sidestep other difficult puppy phases, like teething, when you adopt an older dog. Puppies need a close eye watching them, but you can relax more with an older dog. You're also less likely to arrive home to a chewed-up house after a long day at work.1
5. You can still teach an older dog new tricks.
The old saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks really isn't true. It's never too late to train an older dog. Just keep your dog's age in mind when choosing activities. She might not be able to retrieve a ball over and over, but she'll love to do less physically demanding tricks like shaking hands or giving you a high five.
The Cons of Adopting an Older Dog
1. You might have to overcome a difficult background.
An older dog might have had a difficult background, such as a neglectful owner, being a stray, or living in a noisy kennel. This could lead to a dog being fearful, assertive about food, or having abandonment issues. These are issues you can help with but they will require patience and love.
If your dog wasn't socialized well as a puppy, he might require extra patience as you try to help him be less scared of people or other dogs. Your older pup might not ever be the most social dog in the world, but he can learn to be friendlier and less scared.
2. They might have bad habits that need retraining.
Your dog might have picked up some bad habits that need a little retraining, and sometimes habits are difficult to break. Maybe she barks too much at night because the owner didn't dissuade her or perhaps she is poorly house-trained. When retraining an older dog, the key is to use positive reinforcement that makes a new habit more appealing. Delicious treats can help.
3. You'll miss the puppy years.
There are pros and cons to missing the puppy years. Sure, you avoid the teething phase and the house-training, but you also miss all those adorable puppy moments. An older dog can have a lot of adorable moments too, but some people miss not having the puppy years to look back on.
4. Older dogs may have more health issues.
A reality with older dogs is that they might have more health issues and require more trips to the vet. Of course, puppies will eventually become older dogs, so you won't avoid this reality forever. But some older dogs may have issues that need to be taken care of right away, such as dental work.2 You can always ask about an older dog's health history or talk to the dog's veterinarian first.
Preparing Your Home
After you look over all the pros and cons, you might decide an older dog is the perfect choice for you. As you get your home ready for your new arrival, keep an older dog's unique needs in mind. Many dogs need a safe space to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed, such as a crate with a comfy pad or a separate room. Older dogs are more sensitive to temperature changes too. A Thermo-Pet Cuddle Cushion is great for colder days, while the Coolin' Comfort Bed can help with an older dog's aches and pains. You also want to make sure your dog has plenty of shade while outside. The Pet Cot House is perfect for those hot summer days.
There's a lot to consider when you're thinking about adopting an older dog. If you do take the plunge and give a sweet older dog a loving home, get ready for lots of adventures, plentiful cuddles, and a home full of love.
- Nettlemere. "Advantages and Disadvantages of Adopting Older Dogs." Pet Helpful, 16 August 2019, https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Adopting-Older-Dogs.
- Khuly, Patty. "Why This Vet Thinks You Should Consider Adopting a Senior Pet." VetStreet, 30 September 2014, http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-this-vet-thinks-you-should-consider-adopting-a-senior-pet.