Should I Adopt a Dog from a Previous Owner?
When you adopt a dog, you have a lot of decisions to make. Do you adopt a puppy or an older dog? What kind of dog do you want? Adopting a dog from a previous owner can bring a unique set of challenges, but you will make a huge difference in the pup's life when you choose to adopt an older dog.
Whether you're adopting an older dog from a breeder, a rescue, or another owner who had to give the pup up, you want to learn about the dog's background and any unique behavior quirks he may have. With time, patience, and lots of love, you can give your new dog the forever home he's dreamed about.
Puppies vs. Older Dogs
There's a lot to think about when choosing between adopting a puppy versus an older dog who had a previous owner.1 Puppies are super cute, but they require a lot of training, socialization, and close attention.
Older dogs, on the other hand, are typically already house-trained. They may be less excitable and more content to sit on the couch with you. However, senior dogs can have age-related issues that might necessitate extra visits to the vet. It's really a question of whether you want to train a puppy and take on that responsibility, or love on an older dog that might have some unexpected needs requiring your care.
Ask About the Dog's Personality
Because the dog had a previous owner, you'll be able to learn a lot about her personality and energy levels to help you decide if she's a great fit for your household. Ask the owner, shelter, or breeder why the dog needs to be re-homed. Sometimes it might simply be due to financial difficulties, the owner's health, or the family moved and couldn't take the dog with them.
Play with the dog and see how she reacts to you. Look for any behavioral issues the dog might have and ask a lot of questions. Is she extra timid? Does she get along with children and other pets? Is she aggressive at all? Is she energetic and needs a big yard to run around in? Would she be happy in a cozy apartment? Does she know simple commands like sit or stay?2 Find out everything you can to make sure your household is a good match for the dog's personality and energy.
Ask about any health issues the dog has. If you can, talk to the dog's veterinarian about what you should expect. You need to factor all this into your decision on whether or not you can provide a home that's a good match for the pup's needs.
In some situations, it may be possible to take the dog to your home for a visit with your other pets. Alternatively, you might be able to temporarily foster the dog to make sure you're the right fit for her.
Understand the Dog's Past
When deciding whether you should adopt an older dog, you want to learn about the environment he came from. His past can influence his actions today. Some dogs might have lived in a noisy kennel and need time to adjust to a larger space, like your home. Others might have been in unhealthy situations that left them scared and needing a calmer home. A dog that was a stray or in a hoarding situation might be food aggressive. Those situations may require help from a dog trainer.
Whatever the situation, knowing your dog's past can give you a clue about his future behavior and whether your home is equipped to provide him with the best chance at a happy life. You'll also have a better idea of any habits that need a little retraining.
Your Dog May Miss Her Previous Owner
Be extra patient with your pup if you do adopt an older dog. It's perfectly natural for her to miss her previous owner.
Sometimes, a dog who lost a previous owner might show signs of depression. These dogs need extra love and patience, just as anyone does after suffering a tough loss. You might need to consult your veterinarian if your dog's depression doesn't lift.
Help Your Dog Adjust to His New Home
When you decide to adopt an older pup, there's a lot you can do to help him adjust to his new home. Give your dog a quiet spot where he can get away from all the new sights and sounds. For some dogs, a crate with a comfy pad is the best choice. A snuggly bed can work wonders for others. Consider a Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper or a Superior Orthopedic Bed. A Coolin' Comfort Bed is a great choice for older dogs that may have aches and pains.
Adopting an older dog is a wonderful gift you can give to yourself and your new pup. Just make sure your dog's personality is a good fit for your home. Your new dog will love having a peaceful, caring home in his golden years, and you'll have a best friend to enjoy all of life's adventures with.
- Mifflin, Krista. "Pros and Cons of Adopting Adult and Puppy Dogs." The Spruce Pets, 22 June 2019, https://www.thesprucepets.com/pros-and-cons-adopting-adult-dogs-1117347.
- Urie, Chris. "10 Important Things to Consider When You Decide to Adopt a Dog." Insider, 14 October 2019, https://www.insider.com/adopt-dog-shelter-tips-2018-10.