When it comes to getting a dog many peoples first thoughts run towards getting a puppy, and that’s fine, but there are definite advantages in adopting an adult dog instead.
If you’re trying to decide between a puppy and an adult dog, considering the following in favour of the adult.
An 8 week old puppy can only hold it for, at most, about 2 hours at a time. Even though puppies can learn very quickly that they should relieve themselves outside they just don’t have the physical control to hold it any longer at that age, that means getting up 4 times a night to let them out.
At 12 weeks it’s about 3 hours, at 16 weeks it’s about 4 hours. It gets better from there, but it’s a tiring and demanding couple of months and you can expect to clean up a number of ‘accidents’ along the way, regardless of your particular toilet training method.
The vast majority of older dogs are already toilet trained, even if they’re not they at least have the physical control to sleep through the night without having to get up and relieve themselves inside and can be trained with less clean-up in between.
Puppies are a full time job
For the first couple of months puppies are literally a full time job. You’ll be facilitating constant toilet trips, feeding them 3 or 4 times a day, taking them to puppy training and socialisation a few times a week… They’re a lot of work.
They also don’t need constant monitoring. When getting a new puppy many owners need to take a few weeks of work while everything is settling in. An adult dog allows a lot more freedom in this regard.
Older dogs settle into new environment much faster, in many cases immediately.
Less training required (potentially)
They say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but that’s not the case, in fact teaching an older dog has it’s advantages. Older dogs are calmer, have more focus and are less easily distracted. A previous owner may have even taught them the basics already saving you the effort.
You’ll be responsible for teaching a puppy everything from A-Z; more time, effort and patience required on your end.
Arguable the biggest advantage with an older dog is an established personality.
At 8 weeks you can’t predict what kind of dog a puppy will become, there are things to look out for (see: How to choose a puppy from a litter) but these are strong indications only, not guarantees.
Even when raised well puppies can still have some inherent behavioural issues, like people they’re all individuals and some things are just part of their personalities. They could also have a bad experience, such as being attacked, which leads them to be fearful or react aggressively in certain situations later. It’s not common but it does happen.
Tendency towards undesirable behaviours like barking, chewing, digging, jumping etc. can also be noted.
Obviously older dogs can have behavioural problems as well, but it’s much easier to get an accurate idea of their personality. If a previous owner is surrendering a dog to a shelter, the shelter will ask about the dogs history with family, strangers, kids, other dogs etc. and will observe for themselves while the dog is in their care.
Knowing these things ahead of time is a huge boon in picking a dog you can handle (and rehabilitate/train if required) and one you can’t.
Levels of separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is one of the most common and prominent issues which dog owners face. In the same vein as knowing a dogs established personality, knowing how well a dog handles being left alone is an invaluable piece of information in choosing the right dog to match your lifestyle.
Puppies and young dogs
can will run you ragged. It varies greatly between breeds and individuals but as a very general rule of thumb most dogs won’t start to slow (need less exercise, be content relaxing without getting restless often) until at least two or three years old. Adopting a 3+ year old dog can mean a less demanding, more relaxing lifestyle from the get-go.
Initial veterinary expenses
Puppies will need to be microchipped, vaccinated and most owners will have their dogs de-sexed at the appropriate time, all of which adds up to hundreds of dollars. Adopting an older dog who has already has all this done is noticeably easier on the wallet.
Doing a good thing
Don’t get me wrong, there are positives to getting a puppy, and I hold nothing against reputable breeders who treat their animals well, but there is no getting around the fact that there are millions of perfectly good dogs (and other animals) in shelters around the world, who in a lot of cases, have a limited window in which to get adopted or face being euthanized. There are “no-kill” shelters who will keep any dog until they’re re-homed but for many resources are more finite and putting animals down is a harsh reality they’re faced with.
What better reason to adopt an older dog than saving a life?
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