When it’s time to get a new dog, the best place you can go to get your new furry friend is at a local animal shelter. And, while you may see a few young faces of pups that are just too cute to resist, you’ll also likely see even more faces of older dogs, senior dogs. Most veterinarians agree that a dog becomes a “senior” at around the age of seven, although smaller dogs may not see their senior years until later in life because they mature slower than larger breeds.
Whether you’re looking at larger or smaller dogs, here are some reasons to adopt a senior dog.
Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog
1You’ll know all about them right away.
Unlike puppies that haven’t yet fully matured into the dog they’re going to turn out to be, senior dogs have. Because of this, you’ll know just how big they’ll get (because they’ve already reached their maximum growth), their personality, and what will be required of you when it comes to grooming. If you want to know what you’re signing on for, at the time of signing, a senior dog is your best route.
2Easier to train.
Anyone who’s ever trained a puppy knows just how difficult it can be. They don’t have long attention spans and, never being given any commands before, they don’t really know how to react to them. It’s for this reasons that training a new puppy can sometimes take as long as two years or longer. When you make a senior dog your new best friend though, they’ve likely already gone through at least some basic training and know simple commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “heel”. This will cut down on some of the work you have to do when you get your new dog home.
3You can teach an old dog new tricks!
Although they are easier to train, it would be a mistake to think that the training they come with is all they’re ever going to have. You can change that if you want to because old dogs can in fact, learn new tricks and commands! So if you have specific things you want your senior dog to do that they’ve never done before, like go into a crate or join the family on car rides, you’ll be able to teach them how. And, because they’re easier to train, this won’t take nearly as long as it would with a new puppy.
4They’re usually not at the shelter through any fault of their own.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that a senior dog ended up at a shelter because they had behavioral problems and their last owner simply couldn’t deal with it anymore. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Senior dogs usually get displaced from their homes for a number of reasons including: families that move into smaller homes unequipped for a dog, their guardian passed away, a loss of a job made it impractical to keep a dog, or the guardian’s schedule changed and they no longer have time to care for a dog. It usually has nothing to do with the way the senior dog has behaved.
5You’ll get a calmer dog with less energy than a puppy.
Because they’re no longer puppies, senior dogs simply don’t have the energy that they used to. This makes them great pets if you’re looking for a calmer dog because you have children in the home, you can’t take them out to play for hours every day, or you’re simply looking for a dog that’s more relaxed than one that’s still enjoying their puppy years.
6Less destruction in your home.
Puppies can do an awful lot of damage in your home. Not only will they most likely make messes on the floor after going to the bathroom, but they’ll also tear up shoes, furniture, and anything else they can sink their teeth into. Puppies do this not only because they have a lot of energy, but also because they’re teething, and chewing lessens the pain they’re experiencing. Because a senior dog already has these years behind them, this is one more element of training you won’t have to worry about.
7Senior dogs are often more loving and caring towards their owners.
This isn’t to say that you’ll get a lack of love when you bring home a puppy. You’ll simply just get more of it when you adopt a senior dog. This is because senior dogs have usually already had an owner and they know exactly what that special bond between dog and guardian is like. And they miss it! Senior dogs will likely bond with you much quicker than a puppy because they crave that love and affection, and because they don’t have all that energy to be tearing up the house rather than coming over to sit and be pet and loved by you.
8It’s a shorter commitment.
Some people stay away from adopting a dog, even though they really want one, because they don’t know what their life will be like in 10 or 15 years, or if a dog would fit into that picture. When you adopt a senior dog however, the commitment is usually only five to seven years, so it’s easier to plan your life around and predict if having a dog in that time will work into your lifestyle.
9They’ll settle into your home quicker and easier.
When you bring a new puppy into your home, they can have a hard time adjusting to a new place. For many of these pups, the shelter was the only home they ever knew, and they become very comfortable there. Senior dogs however, have usually had at least one other home and so, they know the drill and are accustomed to being in new places, which will make it easier for them to settle into your home and become part of the family even quicker. If you don’t want to lose sleep for the first several nights because of a pup that’s wandering around and crying, a senior dog might be just the one you’re looking for.
10You can save their life.
While it’s true that all dogs at any shelter are at risk for euthanasia, senior dogs are the most at risk. Because shelters know that a lot of people coming to adopt are looking for puppies, and because senior dogs have already lived half their lives, if they become sick or the shelter simply needs room for more dogs, they are usually the first to be euthanized. By adopting a senior dog, you’ll not only reap all of the other benefits, but the biggest one will probably be the emotional return you get knowing that you’ve actually saved that dog’s life.
So, when it’s time to drop by your local shelter and pick out your new pet, don’t automatically be swayed by the tiny little paws and cute small faces of the puppies you’ll meet when there. Instead, consider these reasons to adopt a senior dog, and the many, many benefits it will bring both of you.