Most of the time when people are thinking about adding a new dog to their family, they want to get a puppy. Sadly, there are many older dogs in shelters who do not find homes because people are not aware of the advantages of adopting a mature dog. For some reason, these dogs are considered “too old” even if they are only five years old! Having experienced the joys of adopting several senior dogs first-hand, and talking with others about their rescues, I can safely tell you a few reasons why seniors rock:
- Senior Dogs Are Usually Already Trained – Although puppies are cute and cuddly, they demand a lot of attention and training which can be frustrating and potentially expensive. Puppies must be housebroken and trained not to chew, jump, and bark all over the place. They don’t know basic commands like sit and stay, and it can be quite chaotic if the training doesn’t really work out as planned. Mature dogs on the other hand, often come already house-trained and will know basic commands – sometimes several advanced tricks as well! Older dogs are past their teething stage so they are less likely to chew up your shoes, furniture, and other expensive household items. Puppies are excited and mystified by literally everything and anything, so they often escape to explore the outside world – which could be dangerous and scary! Older dogs have already lived on our planet for a while, which means they are less likely to go out and satisfy their curiosity. Not to mention, now that the dog has a home again, it probably won’t want to leave your side!
- Seniors Have More Consistent Personalities – Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, was sorely mistaken. Mature dogs tend to have more a more focused attention span, making it easier for them to learn new lessons. Seniors also have more distinct personalities than puppies, and that personality is going to be pretty consistent. Most humane societies will even do behavior analyses to determine what type of lifestyle will best suit a dog, so when you pick up your new friend from the shelter, you will have a better idea of how they will fit in to your life. Puppies’ personalities are often not known until they are mature, and even knowing the personalities of their parents does not guarantee a certain demeanor. When you choose to adopt an older dog rather than a puppy, there is a lot more information available to help you make the right decision, so that the dog has a better chance of transitioning smoothly into your home.
- Puppies Can Be Pretty Expensive – The first year or so of a puppy’s life can be particularly expensive when it comes to veterinary costs. Besides possible training costs, micro-chipping, spaying or neutering, and vaccinations are expensive and can add up very quickly! These are all necessary expenses for a puppy to make sure they live a happy and safe life, however, many older dogs do not require such intense treatment. Usually senior pets from humane societies and animal shelters come already vaccinated, micro-chipped, and spayed or neutered – this all means less cost for you! Not to mention, senior dogs’ adoption fees are drastically lower than younger dogs’.
- Senior Dogs Are More “Chill” and Laid Back – Puppies take time to adjust to their new home, making for many sleepless nights. They usually cry, bark, and whine at night if they are being crate-trained, and even if they are outside of the crate, they could be quite restless. To ensure that they are properly “tired out” in order to sleep at night, it takes a lot of playing, walking, and energy of your own! Many people who have adopted mature pets find this to be less of an issue. Because of their age, older dogs tend to sleep quite often, and it is a breeze for them to sleep through the night. It is still advised of course to walk your senior dog and play with them as well, because they also have energy – just not as much as a puppy. Additionally, older dogs are often able to tolerate being left alone for longer periods of time than puppies, so you will not have to worry about them as much when you are at work or school. They will probably just nap most of the time when you’re gone, anyway!
- Your Rescue Dog Will Become Your BFF Almost Instantly – Many people attest that rescued dogs are aware when they have found a forever home. Older dogs give just as much love and attention as any puppy and have a better understanding of obeying the rules of your household. They also seem to look at their new owner as their “savior” of sorts, for rescuing them from the shelter and giving them a second chance at life. This very often results in the dog following the new owner around everywhere they go, and generally forming an extremely strong bond out of sheer gratitude and love. Even if your rescue animal is a bit apprehensive at first, it will warm up to you in no time. Remember that its past owner may have been abusive or neglectful, or it could have been in a scary or chaotic household – so once it realizes that you are a loving, compassionate owner, it will settle right in!
- You Will Literally Be Saving a Life – Finally, the sad truth about the pet population is that millions of animals are euthanized annually in our country because they are not adopted. Due to budget constraints, lack of resources/space, and other obstacles, a staggering amount of amazing animals don’t make it out of the shelter alive. There are so many sweet, loving pets in shelters right now who would love to come home with you. Before you fall in love with that puppy, consider changing a senior dog’s life and showing them that the world is an amazing and beautiful place filled with lovely owners just like you!