Adopting an Older Dog: What You Need to Know

Adopting an Older Dog: What You Need to Know

Senior dogs are often overlooked by adopters and rescues. Those who decide they'd like to adopt an older dog find them to be genuine companions and get much joy in owning an adult dog. Older dogs tend to adapt quicker, they are most likely already housebroken and seem to have better manners than younger dogs or puppies.

Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog

Dogs older than 7 years old fall into the senior dog category. Depending on the dog's breed, they could live for many years after that. Old dogs may not be desired by all, but if you choose to adopt a senior dog you'll enjoy it for these reasons. If you've never owned a dog before, do your research first and learn common tips for new dog owners.

Most older dogs are trained and behave well in a house

Unlike puppies, older dogs are usually potty-trained and have good manners. An older rescue dog has usually been crate trained, knows how to walk on a leash, can go potty outside, and often knows tricks. Adopting an already house-trained dog will save you a lot of time and energy in training.

Older dogs have lower energy than younger dogs

If you're looking for a dog to relax and cuddle with, an older dog is probably right for you. Most dogs older than 7 have less energy. Most senior dogs also don't have separation anxiety, which is more common in pups. You probably won't need to play and walk your dog daily. Older dogs tend to sleep and relax most of the day. This is perfect for a person with a slower lifestyle. Also, older dogs have all their adult teeth and are out of the energetic puppy phase, which will result in less destruction to your home.

Their personality is easy to identify and match with

When you select an older dog you can choose one that will fit your lifestyle. Older dogs already have their personalities. This will make it easier to decide if they're right for you and your family. This is also helpful if you have other pets. Rather than if you adopt a puppy, you don't necessarily know how it'll turn out.

You may save a dog's life

Because most people prefer puppies, older dogs are often overlooked in shelters. Shelters are overcrowded and unfortunately, older dogs are among the first to be euthanized if they aren’t adopted in a timely manner. By adopting a senior dog, you may be saving it from being put down.

Older dogs make instant companions

A puppy or younger dog generally needs to learn to adapt to you and your family. But older dogs will love you almost immediately. Unlike a puppy that needs training and playtime, an older dog will come pre-trained and only require your love and companionship.

Be Prepared for the Challenges

Although there are immense benefits to adopting an older dog, there are also challenges. Before you decide to bring a senior pet into your life, know there can be some downfalls.

Senior dogs often have health/medical problems

Pet parents of senior dogs should be prepared to manage health problems, which can involve providing medication and regular vet visits and tests. Adult dogs often require more medication, physical therapy and will eventually need more medical attention. Understand the health of the dog you adopt before you do so. Also be prepared for the recurring medical costs, vet bills, and possible more expensive procedures.

They require more patience

As your dog ages, it will require more attention and that means more patience. Depending on your dog's health, as he grows old, he may have accidents in the house. He may lose his hearing and eyesight and this would require more hands-on attention. Be patient with your old dog.

Be careful around children

Oftentimes senior dogs’ physical ailments may lead them to be more reactive around lively children and pets—so pay attention to the signals. Older dogs often don't have as much patience with children. If you don't have children in your life, an old dog might be the perfect option for you.

Mobility challenges

An adult dog usually doesn't have as much energy as a young pup. As a dog ages, they lose their mobility. Oftentimes a senior dog does require more sleep and may seem less interested in what is going on because they are tired or in pain. But there are plenty of other ways to interact with an older dog.

When is a dog considered a senior?

According to BeChewy, large dog breeds age more quickly than small dog breeds.

  • Small breeds are considered senior dogs around 10-12 years old.
  • Medium-size breeds are considered senior dogs around 8-9 years old.
  • Large and giant breeds are considered senior dogs around 6-7 years old.

How long do senior dogs typically live?

The lifespan of a dog depends on its breed. Some senior dogs may live several years, others may have a short life span. Do your research before adopting an older dog to understand the breed's lifespan. Regardless of the dog, losing a pet can be heartbreaking so consider the inevitable when adopting a senior dog.

Can you crate train an older dog?

The saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" isn't actually true. Older dogs are certainly capable of learning new things and crate training is one of them. Although older dogs are creatures of habit and this experience might be just as hard as training a puppy. Keep in mind the dog's personality, some breeds do not like to be crated, especially older dogs. On the other hand, some breeds enjoy a safe place and enjoy being crated. Ask the adoption agency about crate training when adopting an adult dog. Also consider creating a daily schedule for your dog to help them get comfortable in their new home.

Should you adopt an older dog if you have a puppy?

There are many questions to ask yourself before adopting a senior pet.

  • Can you afford their medical bills?
  • Is their personality right for you and the other dogs in your home?
  • Will you be able to say goodbye when the time comes?

With all these things considered, when you head to the shelter please consider adopting an older dog. Maybe they were a beloved companion whose owner died or, for whatever reason, left them behind. Or maybe they’ve never really known a stable home. Either way, adopting them means they finally get the love and comfort every dog deserves. Senior pets can make wonderful companions.

Amanda Guagliardo

Amanda is a Minnesota native who has a background in journalism and marketing. She enjoys playing softball, ice fishing, checking out local breweries, camping and cheering on the Vikings. Amanda resides at home with her husband, son and her spunky English Bulldog.

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