Thinking of adopting a dog from your local shelter? Most people tend to choose younger dogs over older dogs, but this can lead to many older dogs never get rehomed. Here are a few reasons to consider an older dog to adopt.
An advantage of adopting an older dog is that they’re generally already well trained. Most senior dogs are toilet trained, so you won’t have to go through the painstaking process of teaching your dog not to do its business indoors. A lot of senior dogs will also know basic commands such as sit, stay and come, so you don’t have to go through this teaching process either. As a result, senior songs can save you a lot of time and patience if you don’t want to go through the whole rigmarole of training.
There’s a false belief that older dogs in shelters are only there because they’re ‘problem animals’, but this is completely untrue. Whilst there will be some dogs that were given up for adoption for being a little too wild, you’ll generally be able to gage which ones these are from the descriptions. The majority of older dogs in shelters are likely to be there because an owner passed away or simply neglected them – it’s rarely to do with the dog’s behaviour. Besides, dog shelter staff will generally invest some time into training for those that were untrained, so it’s rare you’ll ever find a completely unruly dog.
Senior dogs also tend to have a calmer temperament. They’ve passed the naughty stage of puppyhood, which means you generally don’t have to deal with destructive behaviour and excessive yapping. Senior dogs tend to also have less energy – this means that you don’t have to deal with jumping and may not have to go on such extensive walks.
Many senior dogs are great around children because of their calmer temperament. They can also be great if you’re an older owner yourself who may not have the energy to deal with a more excitable young dog. Obviously temperament also has a lot to do with breed as well as the conditions they may have.
Pet insurance is harder to find for older dogs, but it does exist. Whilst some insurers are unwilling to take on older dogs due to pre-existing problems, there are other special insurers out there that offer pet insurance for pre existing conditions. Whilst your rates may be higher than a younger dog, you’ll still be able to cover yourself for an out of pocket treatment costs.
It’s worth noting that older dogs also tend to cost less when it comes to food and toys. Whilst younger dogs tend to have a more voracious appetite and an ability to chew their way through toys fast, older dogs tend to have slower metabolism and a less destructive urge.
The fact that there’s less demand for older dogs means that there’s often more choice for owners. When choosing a younger dog, you may restricted to only a handful of options at your local shelter. With so many senior dogs to choose from, there’s more variety when it comes to breeds and you can find a dog more suited to your personal preferences, whether you’re looking for a large breed or a small breed. If you had your heart set on a certain type of dog, you may have more luck of finding it by also extending your search to older dogs.
Whilst younger dogs are likely to get snapped up by other owners, many older dogs never get chosen and can end up living out their last years in a shelter. Whilst shelters do the best they can to give dogs a good quality of life, nothing can replace the quality of life they’d get with an owner. By adopting a senior dog, you could help to give it a much more comfortable last few years on this earth by giving it that sense of belonging that every dog needs.
In some cases, you could even extend a dog’s life by adopting it. Many dog shelters are on a tight budget and are overcrowded – once older dogs start to develop health problems, many shelters have to put these animals down in order to prioritize space and funds for healthier animals. Such dogs may have gone on to live for many more years had they got the treatment they needed. In other words, you could be saving an animal’s life by adopting a senior dog!
You may not get as many years with an older dog – which is what puts off many owners – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be rewarding. Many senior dogs can live on for years and years in a happy home.