Senior dogs are wise old souls who have plenty of love and affection to give to their owners. Sadly, many older dogs are surrendered to shelters at a point in their lives when they should be happily sleeping by their owner’s feet or resting contentedly in the shade on the front porch.
When you are preparing to adopt a dog, it’s tempting to gravitate toward puppies or younger dogs whose energy and exuberance can be contagious. Senior dogs are often overlooked at shelters for various, unfounded reasons, but mostly because they aren’t youthful and fluffy and cute.
Older dogs can bring the same dedication and unconditional love to a new home as a puppy can, but without the same level of work on the owner’s part.
Here are 5 reasons that your next adopted dog should be an older dog:
1. Senior dogs are often well-mannered.
Senior dogs have “been around the park” quite a few times during their lives, and they know what is expected of them. They are obedient, know basic commands, exhibit appropriate manners, and have a distinct understanding of how to be a “pack member.” Older dogs have a history and a better knowledge of domestic requirements.
You will experience less mess and annoyance with older dogs in the following areas:
- they are beyond the chewing and digging phases that puppies go through
- many elderly dogs are potty-trained, which can reduce potential accidents inside the home
- socialized seniors are not high-maintenance or obnoxious
- aged dogs desire your company and a warm place to nap as opposed to non-stop attention seeking puppies
Senior dogs require less time and effort to adjust to a new home. All they want is a comfortable place to live, a warm spot to doze, and an owner to love unconditionally.
2. What you see is what you get.
When you adopt a senior dog, there are no surprises about what kind of dog you are bringing home. Puppies and younger dogs may end up growing larger or being more rambunctious than the adopter expected. Elder dogs have already reached their maximum adult shape and size, and are well past the stage of energetic puppyhood.
By adopting a senior dog, you will know these facts about your dog before he comes home:
- any special requirements that he needs, such as environmental necessities (i.e., fenced yards) or medications
- his temperament: you can choose the right dog with a personality that will mesh with your home and lifestyle
- whether or not he is good with young children; most senior dogs make wonderful, gentle companions to small kids
- whether or not he can live comfortably with other dogs, with cats, or with other family pets
- size and appearance; older dogs have reached their growth limits, so you know how large or small they are, and what they look like as adult dogs
There is no guesswork involved with adopting an older dog. All you will need to do is open your heart to a sweet, loving soul.
3. Senior dogs are willing to please.
Old dogs are less demanding of your time and attention. They can be ready at a moment’s notice to accompany you on a trail hike and be just as willing to cuddle next to you on the couch for some quiet down time.
Adopting a senior dog means adopting a friend for life, a friend who will go above and beyond to fit into your lifestyle. Old-timers are well known for:
- having easygoing personalities
- being independent
- being willing to learn and adapt to your daily schedule
- having a greater attention span, making the training process much easier
Unlike adopting a puppy, which involves a significant dedication of time and long-term disruption of family schedules, a senior dog needs less than a month to become familiar with your routine.
4. Older dogs can enrich your life and the lives of other people.
What do you see when you look at a senior dog? The deep eyes of experience? The white and gray hairs surrounding his eyes and nose? How about a dog willing and eager to learn and take on new challenges in life? Elder dogs can add deeper value to your own life and also the lives of people in your community.
Senior dogs are perfect for these community activities:
- companions for seniors
- visitors to hospitals and elderly facilities
- therapy or comfort dogs
- reading assistance dogs
Contrary to the old adage, your senior dog can actually learn new tricks, and in doing so, can make your life and the lives of community members significantly better.
5. You’re saving a life.
Pet rescues and animal shelters are filled with senior dogs, left there for reasons beyond their control. Maybe there was a divorce in the family, maybe the owner passed away, maybe the dog was deemed “too old” or “too burdensome” or just wasn’t wanted anymore.
Puppies and purebreds are adopted from shelters more frequently than seniors because the adoptee is under the mistaken impression that older dogs are damaged goods. Older dogs bring love, life, and companionship to a home, but too often they are unfairly judged by their age and past.
Senior dogs have the highest shelter euthanasia rate. Many older dogs are lost and confused or become withdrawn and depressed in shelters; this often means that adopters don’t immediately see their true personalities and potential. Old fellows are easily passed over for younger, more exuberant dogs, leaving those older dogs facing a lonely death.
Put yourself in the “dog’s paws” and look beyond your first impression of him. When you choose to adopt an older dog, you are literally saving a life.
Here is what you can expect in return for your kindness:
- unconditional love
- unwavering support
- dedicated companionship
- true friendship
Give a senior dog a shot at a new life, and you will be rewarded a thousand times over.
Adopting an older dog just makes sense.
If you choose to adopt an older dog, you will be giving him a new “leash on life” while significantly enriching your own. Senior dogs are easy to maintain, willing to obey, and eager to give you their steadfast love and support.
They are well-established, generally trained, require less discipline, and will integrate more smoothly into your household. Additionally, information on training your new dog and becoming a better owner is easy to find.
If you want to adopt a dog, consider the quiet, older dog with the soulful eyes and gray-streaked muzzle. After all, senior dogs don’t care about your age; they only care about the size of your heart.
About the Author: Alexandra Seagal is dedicated to helping people become more knowledgeable pet owners through the information provided on her website, Animalso.com. When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her two beautiful little daughters, two devoted dogs, and one remarkably intelligent cat.