Newer doesn’t always mean better.
Adopting an older dog may be a decision based on you or
your family’s lifestyle. In fact, many senior citizens opt for
this choice because a new, hyperactive and untrained puppy
may be too much excitement and work to handle.
Sometimes, an older dog has its advantages. It may be more
settled, already house trained, leash trained, and maybe
even spayed or neutered.
With this important decision, however, there are some vital
points that you should keep in mind. When adopting an
older dog, there is a lot to consider, no matter where you get
your dog from- a kennel, a rescue center or a friend.
The first thing to research beforehand is the dog’s history.
Find out if the dog was a stray or where he was found. Being
a stray isn’t necessarily bad, but it may mean that you have
to do some training. And, don’t believe the myth that
teaching an old dog a new trick is impossible. An older dog
may be calmer, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on
specific training methods.
Obedience school may be an option. Some older dogs may
have been kept outside, so you may have to train it for living
indoors, or vice versa. Although this will take time and
energy, eventually your dog, no matter its age, will learn. At
first, out of nervous habit, the dog might use the bathroom
anywhere- especially if you are gone. Give the dog time to
get used to his new home… it’s a big change for him too. Be
optimistic. He’ll adjust. Overall, training a puppy is harder
as they are distracted more easily.
During the initial background check, find out if the dog was
abused. Just because the dog is shy in a cage or shelter,
doesn’t mean he was abused or will act shy once he is with
you. If the dog was abused, however, he may be overly
aggressive towards you or your children. Ask how the dog
reacts to the human contact he receives presently. If it’s a
friend’s or family member’s dog, all of this may be a lot
easier to find out.
Next, find out the reason why the older dog is now up for
adoption. It makes a difference only if the dog has a violent
background. It also makes a difference whether the violence
was rooted in the dog’s situation (i.e. taunting, hurtful
children) or if the dog simply possesses an aggressive
dominance over its environment. If you find that the dog
was aggressive towards its previous owner, and that it
wasn’t the dog’s temperament, you will really have to think
If your dog is going to be around children, it’s extremely
important that you know ahead of time how your dog
handles these little people. Find out what you can from the
previous owner or care giver. Some dogs may have been
mistreated by children in the past. These dogs tend to be
overly aggressive towards children at first so please take that
into consideration. Though it can generally be corrected
over time and with proper training, your first responsibility
is to protect the child’s safety.
Please remember that most dogs in shelters or rescue clinics
are there innocently. They could have been a product of a
divorce, death, separated family, or a number of other
circumstances. Most of these dogs have no behavioral
problems and you will get along together great. The average
age of a dog that you’ll find at an animal shelter is between
six months and one year old, that being their time of
Finally, while most shelters ensure that their dogs are one
hundred percent healthy, you will take your dog to the vet to
get a check-up. This cost will likely be included in any
adoption fees you pay. Insist that you take the dog to your
preferred vet, and that the shelter or clinic will pay. If the
dog is not spayed or neutered, then the shelter can
recommend a vet and either fully reimburse the cost, or give
you a coupon worth at least a fifty-percent reduction.
About the Author:
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at
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