14 Reasons You Should Consider Adopting an Older Dog
Make a dog’s golden years truly golden when you forgo the typical puppy to give a senior dog a new home.
Every dog should know what it feels like to be loved
Dogs aren’t objects or accessories. They crave love and comfort and family just as much as humans do—maybe more. Odds are that when most people go out looking for a new dog, new is exactly what they’re looking for. In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that dogs over the age of seven (senior dogs) make up only 25 percent of the adoption rate. It is possible that older dogs that have wound up in shelters have lived in poor or abusive conditions for most of their lives or maybe their previous owner passed away or they were separated for another reason, like this 43 amazing dogs that need adopting. An animal that has suffered so much for so long deserves to know love for once in their life, don’t you think?
You’re not sure how long any dog will live
The standard reason for not adopting an older dog is that they won’t live as long as a puppy would. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s an old dog. They are going to die in two years and that will devastate me,’” shares Amy Sciarretto, a Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center volunteer in Blackwood, New Jersey. “Well, that requires a change in perspective…Dogs that are seven, eight, or 11-years-old can live to 15. With proper love and care, you can get plenty of good years.” Realistically, no one knows when their dog will die. One dog’s life may end unexpectedly at four-years-old while another may live for more than a decade. Life is uncertain, so don’t put a number on it! When you adopt your pup, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.
It’s rewarding knowing you saved a life
It’s a terrible fact that nearly 700,000 dogs in shelters are euthanized each year. And since older dogs are less likely to be adopted, it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that a significant portion of the dogs euthanized each year are older dogs. You can get a great sense of fulfillment knowing you’ve adopted a dog whose life would have otherwise been ended simply because of their age. Once you have your dog, be sure to follow these tips for keeping your pet safe during a natural disaster so they don’t get separated from you and wind up back in the shelter.
They know their commands
Depending on a dog’s history and past home life, they may already be potty trained and know how to behave. Based on her years of shelter experience, Sciarretto says, “They are trained, have leash manners, and often know their commands and their names. They are quite literally move-in ready.” For this reason, shelter dogs are the best.
Older dogs are more laidback
Part of the fun of a brand new puppy is that they are excited about basically everything. However, that constant, blazing energy can be pretty exhausting, especially if you’re a more relaxed person to begin with. With older dogs, “you don’t have to deal with all the puppy energy,” Sciaretto asserts. “They are past that. They’ve been there, done that. They are just happy to settle on the couch and snuggle in the peace and quiet. They make strong, quiet companions.”
Older dogs truly appreciate all you do
In many ways, older dogs are like adult humans. Because they’ve lived for quite a few years already, they have had a lot of experiences (and likely, if they’re in a shelter, not very good ones). When senior dogs get adopted, they truly do understand the magnitude of your kindness and devotion. Puppies, like children, naturally assume that it is your job to take care of them, but adult dogs know how lucky they really are, and they’ll show you affection for that.
It’s good to adopt a dog who is similar in age to your other pet(s)
If you already have other pets—especially another dog—it is a good idea to adopt a dog who is around the same age as your current one. If you already have an adult dog, the American Kennel Club asserts that adopting a puppy might make them feel threatened or like they are being replaced. Two adult dogs will better understand each other’s likes and habits, whereas an adult dog and a puppy typically won’t see eye to eye.
You can teach an old dog new tricks
Old adages aren’t always right. Yes, people and animals who are older tend to be set in their ways, but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of learning new behaviors or lifestyles. Breaking in any adopted dog is a process, but over time they will adapt to their new lifestyle, schedule, and commands. When I first adopted my senior Great Pyrenees, Jill, I would have to drag her out on walks. Going around the block would take us forever; she simply refused to move. Now, she readily stands by the door to get her leash and harness on and keeps a leisurely pace!
Not all senior dogs are anti-social
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It is true that not all shelter dogs play well with others. Depending on the life they’ve had, being around other animals (especially very outgoing ones) can be difficult. But part of the work any good shelter does is behavior modification and socialization. An older dog can be very easygoing and friendly if you give them a chance.
An older dog may be the type of companion you’re looking for anyway
Choosing which dog to adopt is all about how well your personalities match. If you’re athletic, a senior dog might not be the best choice to take on nature hikes. However, if you enjoy being home, or if you yourself are an older person, a senior dog can make for a very suitable partner.