If you are thinking of adopting a dog, you will obviously have to decide between getting a puppy or an adult dog. While many people gravitate toward purchasing a puppy, there are numerous benefits to adopting an adult dog.
Besides the advantages of having an older dog, you will also have the emotional satisfaction of knowing that you have given a loving, loyal animal a home – something it might otherwise not have had. Many dogs spend years in animal shelters and some tragically have to be put down. By getting an older dog, you and your family will not only have the benefit of having a household dog but you will also be doing your bit for animal welfare.
Dogs may be given up by their owners for a variety of reasons. It is possible that its original owner could no longer afford to have the dog or is no longer able to devote the time necessary to care for it. The owner may have died or moved to a residential care facility. Changing circumstances, such as having to move to a new city or to a new apartment may also force owners to give up dogs. Some dogs are given up due to behavioral issues that the owner has been unable or unwilling to deal with. For example, the dog may not have accepted a new baby in the house.
Whatever the reason, adopting an abandoned dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is not without its pitfalls, however. In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of getting an adult dog and show the steps that you need to take to ensure that your new pet is able to blend in seamlessly as a member of your family.
Advantages of adopting an adult dog
One of the many advantages of getting an adult dog is that it is fully developed. You know the size, personality, and needs of the dog, so no nasty surprises are awaiting you. Since its personality has been fully formed, you will be able to identify any personality quirks or problems that the dog has. It’s difficult to predict the size and appearance of the dog if you are getting a mixed breed or mongrel puppy, but you will know what it looks like if you select an adult canine.
In addition, you have no idea what kind of personality a puppy might develop. Since an adult dog has a fully developed personality, you will have a much better idea of what you are getting. Even in a purebred dog, this is a useful benefit to have. Is the dog confident and assertive? Or is it timid and submissive? Depending on your requirements and personality, you can choose a dog that you are comfortable dealing with. You will also be able to check if the dog is good with children and other animals. If you have a variety of pets and kids running around, you may prefer to get a laid-back, friendly dog. If you don’t have pets or lots of strangers coming to your house, you can opt for a more aggressive dog that will guard your house.
Another great advantage of adult dogs is that they need less care than puppies. Puppies, after all, can’t be left alone for long periods of time and require small meals throughout the day. In contrast, you can feed an adult dog one or two meals a day, and it will usually be happy on its own if you and your family are out during the day. Depending on your lifestyle, an adult dog may be a more feasible option.
If you are not a fan of cleaning up after your puppy, you will love having an older canine. Puppies will inevitably soil your home, and some breeds are notoriously hard to housebreak. You will have the unenviable task of cleaning up for several months. Thankfully, with an adult dog, you get to dodge that bullet. Puppies are also more likely to chew on your footwear and furniture, especially during the teething stage. Again, adult dogs are far less likely to pose that problem.
Besides requiring less work, you will also save on veterinarian bills which tend to be much more expensive during the first year of a dog’s life. You will have to take an adult dog for its booster shots and periodic checkups, but the cost will tend to be less than a puppy’s. You will also be able to check beforehand if the dog has a chronic or serious ailment. Being able to select a healthy adult dog means you have a good chance of not having to spend exorbitant amounts of money on dog maintenance and health.
Adult dogs also have calmer temperaments. This is something older people will particularly appreciate, as will younger children who wouldn’t like being knocked over by an exuberant puppy. If your house has lots of delicate furniture, you won’t want a rambunctious puppy knocking it over. Nor will unsteady people like being jumped on by a young dog, especially by larger breeds.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to teach an older dog new tricks, although it is true that puppies are more trainable. Older dogs have longer attention spans and can be trained with the right attitude and plenty of patience.
Many dogs have gone through the trauma of losing a beloved owner and losing a family that they thought would always be there for them. You will be able to enjoy the gratitude and love of your pet as it gradually opens up its heart to you and becomes your loyal companion.
The reality is that many shelters are overcrowded and many dogs, especially the older ones, have to be euthanized. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you saved the life of a dog that has so much love to give. You will also be helping another dog by freeing up valuable space at the animal shelter to rescue another canine.
Disadvantages of adopting an adult dog
While adopting an adult dog can be a very rewarding experience, it is not without its disadvantages.
One of the biggest disadvantages is that the dog may have a behavioral issue that caused its owner to give it up. The reality is that many people don’t have the ability to give dogs the training and discipline that they need. This can become a major problem, particularly for large, aggressive breeds that must be properly controlled. In some cases, the behavioral issues can be overcome through proper training, but in other instances, the dog may simply be too dangerous to be housed in an average home. Young children are particularly vulnerable, so you need to be certain that the adopted dog can be trusted with them. Some dogs can only be properly trained by professionals, so you should consider your own ability to handle a problem dog.
A dog may be friendly with humans but hostile to dogs and other pets. Again, this is something you must consider if you have other pets. The last thing you want is your new dog injuring or killing one of the pets that you already have. Try to find a dog that has grown up around other animals rather than one that has just been reared by its owner.
While many individuals love the idea of owning a German shepherd, rottweiler, or pit bull, the majority are unable to give the dogs the kind of care that they need. These dogs must have proper socializing and training. They must also have sufficient exercise. Unfortunately, when these dogs don’t get their requirements met, they become unruly and a danger to themselves and members of their family. Countless dogs find their way to animal shelters because of this. While these dogs deserve a loving home, you should be wary of bringing an extremely aggressive dog into your home, especially if you have children. Such situations are seldom the dog’s fault, but ultimately you can’t afford to risk your safety or that of your family.
While a healthy adult dog will cost less in veterinary fees than a puppy, it is possible that the wellbeing of the dog has been neglected for some time. You may have to spend a lot of time and money sorting out your dog’s health issues. A likely source of problems is the dog’s teeth. It is estimated that as many as four out of five dogs suffer from some form of periodontal disease. This means that you will have to spend on expensive dental care. In addition, as they grow older, dogs can develop other health issues, like arthritis and diabetes.
Dogs do suffer from their own share of ailments when they start approaching old age. If you were thankful that you didn’t have to deal with a puppy soiling all over your house, you may now find yourself having to contend with a pet that has become incontinent. These are problems you will have to face sooner rather than later if you opt for an adult dog. Older dogs may also suffer from vision and hearing loss, among other problems.
If you bond very closely with your pet, you should consider the fact that you will have less time together than if you had a puppy. You may end up becoming very close to your dog only to end up losing it after a few years. This is especially true if you adopt a short-lived breed, such as a bulldog. While many owners are grateful for the time they had with their pet, if losing a dog takes a heavy emotional toll on you, this is a factor that you should bear in mind.
You will also miss out on the chance to shape your dog’s personality. When it is an adult, a dog’s personality has already been fully formed, so you have no chance of influencing your dog’s character. An older dog can still be trained, but it is a more arduous process and many of its habits would already have become ingrained. If you get a puppy, you have a much greater opportunity to ensure that it’s properly socialized, for example. It is also much easier to ensure that it is happy around children and other pets.
It may be impossible to train an older dog to get on with cats and other animals, but some ingrained behaviors are tricky to undo, so you need to consider if you have the time and the patience to teach your dog good manners. In some cases, you will have to go to the expense of hiring a professional dog trainer.
Some dog breeds are essentially one-man dogs that will not easily accept you as leader. In addition, they may be self-confident, dominant dogs that are hard to control, especially if they are males. These kinds of dogs are unsuitable for novice owners and should only go to experienced dog owners who are able to control and handle such dogs.
Having a slow-moving older dog may be better for sedentary individuals, but they may not be an ideal fit if you lead a more active lifestyle. The dog will become progressively less active the older it gets. You may find that your adopted dog prefers a nap in front of the fireplace to a run outside with you. Children may prefer to have a more playful, rambunctious companion. A puppy may be more suitable for a family that leads an active lifestyle. That said, not all dog breeds are slow-moving and many dogs remain active and capable of exercising for long periods. If the dog is unfit due to not having sufficient exercise, you will have the pleasure of providing it with the space and activities it needs to become fit and healthy again. Furthermore, some dogs have high energy even as they grow older.
Choosing an adult dog
As with puppies, it is important to consider what kind of adult dog you are going to adopt. If you opt for a purebred, you will have a better idea of what kind of dog you are getting. However, there are plenty of mixed breed dogs that make lovely companions. In many cases, the staff at the rescue center will be able to tell you about the dog’s personality and special requirements, including any issues that you need to be aware of. It’s a good idea to take your family with you when you go to check out the dog, as you will be able to gauge its personality when interacting with your children, for example.
Correcting behavioral issues is always a challenge, so it’s better to get a well-adjusted dog. If you have pets, see how the dog interacts with other dogs to make sure that it’s properly socialized. If you have an apartment or are unable to exercise the dog regularly, you should opt for a small dog, such as a shih tzu or Pomeranian. Remember that very small dogs are fragile and may be unsuitable for households with very young children.
If you have older people in your house, select a dog that is large enough not to be tripped over and also slow-moving so they won’t knock anyone over. A dog such as a bulldog is ideal.
Bigger dogs such as German shepherds and rottweilers can make wonderful pets and will guard the house. Since it is possible the dog was abandoned because the owner couldn’t handle the animal, you should make sure that it is well adjusted and not overly aggressive before you decide to adopt it. Also, make sure that you or a member of your family is able to attend to the selected dog’s exercise and grooming needs.
Taking care of your adopted adult dog
There are a few initial steps that you can take to make your new pet’s introduction to your home stress-free. To help put the dog at ease, make sure that it is warmly welcomed to your home by your family. If you have other pets, introduce them one by one while closely monitoring their interaction. Ensure that the pets are able to spend time in their own space until they are comfortable with each other.
Find out what the shelter has been feeding the dog and try to give it the same food for the first few days. Later on, you can gradually shift to your preferred food.
One of the first things you must do is visit your veterinarian to have your dog fully checked. Since most adopted dogs don’t have a health history, your vet should give it a thorough checkup and ensure that it is fully vaccinated.
Early on, you should set boundaries for your dog so that it knows where it is permitted to roam and what areas are out of bounds, sleeping and mealtimes, and how much time it gets to spend outdoors. Let the dog ease into your normal family routine without overwhelming it with attention. It should get used to living in your household, including spending periods of time alone. Before you know it, your newly adopted dog will become a fully-fledged member of your family.