Many prospective owners first think of getting a puppy when considering adding a canine pet to the household. Labor-intensive puppies are a good choice for some families, but for others, adopting an adult dog who has already had some training may be just the right choice.
Advantages of Choosing an Adult Dog
Puppies tend to wiggle, play or sleep when meeting prospective owners but don’t always give a true representation of their primary personality traits. When meeting an adult dog for the first time, the dog’s innate playfulness or shyness tends to be more obvious.
The dog should still be excited about meeting someone new, but after a few minutes, the potential family should have an idea of the dog’s energy level and friendliness with strangers.
Adult dogs have already achieved their full size so there will be no surprises such as an adorably gangly puppy who grows into a large Walker Hound mix or one who remains petite in an active family longing for a trail dog.
Knowing the dog’s size and weight will give the owners a better idea of what will be a good fit for the housing situation (apartment, house, etc.) and the availability of green space. After all, a Great Dane probably won’t be happy in a small apartment and owners of Jack Russell Terriers need to engage their dogs in an active lifestyle.
On a practical level, adult dogs have often been house-trained not to chew and to go outside for their bodily functions. While this may not apply to all adult dogs, house-trained dogs are definitely an advantage to getting a just-weaned puppy.
It is important to remember that there will be an adjustment period within the first couple of weeks for both dogs and owners so even a well-trained dog may have accidents at first in his or her new environment. Consistent routines for feeding and bathroom excursions will help the new dog adjust while saving the home’s carpets and other floorings.
Reasons Adult Dogs are Homeless
Perhaps the most altruistic reason to select an adult dog is to directly save a life. Many older dogs end up in animal shelters because their owners can no longer care for them. Sometimes it’s a financial decision or because of illness or death, particularly in elderly owners. Others are placed for adoption because the family loved having a puppy but were less enchanted by an adult dog 🙁
Most animal shelters will be honest about a dog’s past because they realize that inaccuracies will lead to the dog’s return to the shelter instead of fitting in well with the family.
The dog’s comfort level with new situations can also be assessed at this time, which can be very important for a family looking for an animal to interact with many people. Some dogs can be socialized to adapt well while others may work best in quieter homes.
Breeds like basset hounds want to be an integral part of the family while some toy dogs typically bond with just one caregiver.
Adopting a Mature Dog
For dog owners looking for a calmer pet, mature dogs six years or older might be an ideal match. Adult dogs tend to be settled, housetrained and grateful for a loving home and can still enjoy exercise and outdoor activities depending on age and health.
For smaller breeds, in particular, dogs at this age can often look forward to many more years of good health, although even larger dogs like Dalmatians and Labrador Retrievers can sometimes live to be in the 12-14 year age range.
Rescue Dogs Available at Shelters, Vets, etc.
Older dogs are found in a variety of places. Newspapers often have ads for older dogs and animal shelters usually have a large selection plus a location for the dog and family to meet. Vet offices and even dog grooming businesses may have a board listing dogs for sale or have abandoned pets in house.
Petfinder.com makes selecting potential pets easy by incorporating size, gender, age, and breed preferences within a specific radius to the home. Used by animal shelters and rescue groups around the country, this website offers a large selection with information about compatibility with children or other pets plus any health issues.
Giving an Adult Dog a Happy New Home
Don’t forget to introduce the dog to each family member before adoption to make the transition a little easier. As you can see, there are many advantages to adopting an older dog, not only for the dog but also for the family.