When it comes to adopting a dog from a rescue shelter, many people tend to choose the younger pups. Having just recently adopted Sebastian, my five year old Lab, I thought I would write a piece on why adopting an older dog can sometimes be the better choice.
One of the main worries when adopting an older pet is that they will need to go to the vet’s more than a younger dog, meaning that the owner could face large fees. Whilst most pet companies will not insure a dog aged 8 or over, Animal Friends believe that every dog has the right to be insured and so will insure a dog at any age. Some companies will drastically raise the monthly premiums once a pet that has an existing policy is over the age of 8; this is because there is more risk of them needing medical assistance of some kind. We here at Animal Friends operate a bit differently for pets over the age of 8, whereby we add a 35% co-payment to each claim that is made. That way, we can keep the premiums low and if a claim is never made then the owner will be saving a lot of money.
A highly positive aspect of adopting an older dog is that what you see is what you get. Older dogs’ personalities are fully formed and so you will know exactly what kind of temperament each dog has when you are trying to choose. You’ll also be able to find out key information such as grooming requirements and size. All of these things mean that you’ll be able to choose a dog that really is right for you and your lifestyle.
Whilst the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is very popular, it isn’t always necessarily true. Older dogs have a much calmer state of mind and so are able to focus more than younger pups. Experienced dogs who have lived and socialised with humans before will know how to read human behaviour better, meaning that they can often have a better understanding of what it is you’re asking them to do. This understanding of human behaviour is a plus in that it helps older dogs to adjust and settle in to their new environment in a much quicker time than it does a young dog or a pup.
Puppies can be a lot of hard work. They will chew everything and anything in sight and it will take some time to properly house train them. This means that messy accidents can frequently occur whilst couches and shoes can be bitten quite a lot when a younger dog is teething. Most older dogs will be housetrained and if they aren’t they will have the mental and physical capacity to pick things up very quickly.
Older dogs are the perfect choice for people who have a certain type of lifestyle. For one, they do not need the constant monitoring that a puppy will need and so people that have young children or like a bit of ‘alone-time’ will appreciate the independence that an older dog can display. An ageing pooch will also appreciate a lot of time to relax meaning that they make good companions for people who don’t lead an active lifestyle. Older dogs do love exercise (I can testify to that) but they will have nowhere near the same amount of energy levels that younger dogs will have.
A lot of people who would like to have a canine-companion are afraid that their circumstances might drastically change in the long run. If you bring a puppy into your life you will need to be ready to commit anywhere between 8 to 20 years of your life. With an older dog the commitment will still be as great, just not in terms of length and so an older dog can be a great option for people who aren’t so sure of what their future brings.
Many people who have adopted an older dog have noticed the instant bond that is created between themselves and their companion. Older dogs really seem to appreciate that someone has given them a second chance of happiness and love and they reciprocate this love tenfold. I can, again, personally agree with this as I have only had Sebastian for 5 days and it feels like I have known him for years.
There are many reasons for why a potential dog owner should think about adopting an older pet but perhaps the greatest is that if you decide to take an older dog into your home, then you may be potentially saving that dog’s life. At animal shelters and rescue homes it is the older dogs that are usually last to be adopted and first to be euthanized. Saving a dog’s life will give you as a human an unmatched feeling and you really will forge a close bond with the furry friend whose live you saved.