Adopting an older dog; Newer doesn’t always mean better

Is Adopting an older dog in your future?


Adopting an older dog may be a decision based on you or your family’s lifestyle. In fact, many senior citizens opt for this choice because a new, hyperactive and untrained puppy may be too much excitement and work to handle.


Adopting an older dog


Sometimes, an older dog has its advantages. It may be more settled, already house trained, leash trained, and maybe even spayed or neutered.



With this important decision, however, there are some vital points that you should keep in mind. When adopting an older dog, there is a lot to consider, no matter where you get your dog from – a kennel, a rescue center or a friend.


Tips on Adopting an older dog


The first thing to research beforehand is the dog’s history. Find out if the dog was a stray or where he was found. Being a stray isn’t necessarily bad, but it may mean that you have to do some training. And, don’t believe the myth that teaching an old dog a new trick is impossible. An older dog may be calmer, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on specific dog training methods.


Tips on Adopting an older dog


Obedience school may be an option. Some older dogs may have been kept outside, so you may have to train it for living indoors, or vice versa. Although this will take time and energy, eventually your dog, no matter its age, will learn. At first, out of nervous habit, the dog might use the bathroom anywhere – especially if you are gone. Give the dog time to get used to his new home; it’s a big change for him too. Be optimistic. He’ll adjust. Overall, training a puppy is harder as they are distracted more easily.


During the initial background check, find out if the dog was abused. Just because the dog is shy in a cage or shelter, doesn’t mean he was abused or will act shy once he is with you. If the dog was abused, however, he may be overly aggressive towards you or your children. Ask how the dog reacts to the human contact he receives presently. If it’s a friend’s or family member’s dog, all of this may be a lot easier to find out.



Next, find out the reason why the older dog is now up for adoption. It makes a difference only if the dog has a violent background. It also makes a difference whether the violence was rooted in the dog’s situation (i.e. taunting, hurtful children) or if the dog simply possesses an aggressive dominance over its environment. If you find that the dog was aggressive towards its previous owner, and that it wasn’t the dog’s temperament, you will really have to think about it.


Children and Adopting an older dog


If your dog is going to be around children, it’s extremely important that you know ahead of time how your dog handles these little people. Find out what you can from the previous owner or care giver. Some dogs may have been mistreated by children in the past. These dogs tend to be overly aggressive towards children at first so please take that into consideration. Though it can generally be corrected over time and with proper training, your first responsibility is to protect the child’s safety.


Children and Adopting an older dog


Please remember that most dogs in shelters or rescue clinics are there innocently. They could have been a product of a divorce, death, separated family or a number of other circumstances. Most of these dogs have no behavioral problems and you will get along together great. The average age of a dog that you’ll find at an animal shelter is between six months and one year old, that being their time of adolescence.


Conclusion on Adopting an Older Dog


Finally, while most shelters ensure that their dogs are one hundred percent healthy, you will take your dog to the vet to get a check-up. This cost will likely be included in any adoption fees you pay. Insist that you take the dog to your preferred vet and that the shelter or clinic will pay. If the dog is not spayed or neutered, then the shelter can recommend a vet and either fully reimburse the cost, or give you a coupon worth at least a fifty-percent reduction.



How about you? Have you ever adopted an older dog? Please share with us in the comments below.


Share The Joy


  • I never thought about some of the pros and cons of adopting an older dog. I know they can be calmer than puppies, but I didn’t know there were things to look out for such as whether the dog was an outdoor dog or if it was abused by kids. Good points to remember. Are there any health issues with older dogs such as there being more of a chance they will get sick, or is that only a concern with very old dogs?

    • Tammy

      Hello Mike, there is a risk of health problems with older dogs. I recommend a thorough vet checkup when adopting an older dog. Some people will turn them in if they can’t afford the medical costs. Some shelters will already have given them a clean bill of health. It’s a risk, but I know plenty of people that have had great success with older dogs and have had no problems whatsoever. Thanks for the question.

  • Cheska J

    I have a friend planning to adopt a dog, definitely will share this post with him as it will come in handy! I bought my dogs at a pet store but have actually considered adopting before. You definitely made a point that a puppy is more distracted than an older dog, this is something I’ve witnessed myself! The temperament of the dog would really matter to me so that’s something I would consider for sure if I were to adopt.

    • Tammy

      Thank you so much for sharing this post with your friend. I’m sure whatever he decides, the older dog or young dog will bring him lots of joy!

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