adopting an older dog

  1. I've been wanting to do this for a while, but have been getting mixed reviews from people I know who own dogs about whether or not it's a good idea.

    Some background: I've never owned a dog before, partly because I've lived in apartments for most of my life and my family has never been keen on taking up such a huge responsibility in a small space. I have had cats since I was 12, so I am aware of how big of a responsibility a pet generally is. I've always loved dogs, and now that I will be on my own soon, I would love to explore the option of finally having one. The only problem is, being a first time owner and also not being the most patient person in the world, I think it would be smart for me to stay away from getting a puppy (despite how much I would love one). I've heard that it's a lot of work, and I'm worried that if I get overwhelmed, then the dog would suffer and I will have to try to find another home for it. With all the unwanted pets out there, this is just a situation I would like to avoid.

    A lot of my friends and people I know that have dogs have been 100% against the idea of getting an older dog. They say that the dog will never completely trust you and see you the same way they would if you had them at the puppy stage, and this could cause behavioural problems later on. Also, a lot of people have warned me against getting a dog when you don't know his or her history.

    Anyway, are any of these fears legitimate? Is there any way to overcome them, especially the whole issue of the dog always feeling distanced from you? Where would be the best place to get an older dog? I assume the humane society/local animal rescue, but I'm not sure if there are better places. What is the optimal age that I should be looking at? Are there any other issues I should be aware of before doing this? I would love to hear any advice or experiences.
  2. I think its a fantastic idea. Majority of the times, older dogs get looked over at the pound. You will probably be saving a life. Maybe try going to a rescue. On the bright side, the older dogs are house trained. You won't have to deal with that.
  3. How much older were you thinking? I love puppies, but I've preferred dogs beyond the puppy stage. Usually you already know the personalities & traits that will stay with them, many are already housebroken (if not, they're just as easy to train unless there are behavior issues which you'd know about), and most of the ones in rescue are not puppies. I've adopted dogs (and have started with puppies before then) from around 1 year to 16 years, and the older ones are no less loyal than the ones I raised as puppies. Although a puppy is cute and fun to start off with, I'd find one older if you're a bit nervous about the work involved. It's not always THAT bad, but if the dog is a bit older, they're personality has developed and it'll be somewhat easier to tell how hard he/she will be to train. Once I started adopting young/adult dogs, it's since then been my preference. Alot of people think it's best to get a puppy, so there are so many older homeless dogs who are looking for forever homes, who seem to understand you're saving them. Telling you they will never fully trust is TOTAL BUNKO and a misconception, unless of course there's an issue with that (possibly abuse but most dogs are open minded if given time), and you'd KNOW that when you meet the dog and usually if they have some history to even be worried about, they'll show that in their personality also.
  4. go for it, an older dogs deserves a loving home as well. I hope in my older years I will have someone to take care of me. while I was growing up, my parents gave me the choice of adopting a puppy or an older english setter who's owner passed away of old age.

    I was only 13 at the time, but I chose the english setter. Lizzy lived with us for 4 years until she died in her sleep. Lizzy to this day is still my favorite pet of all time. she was such a gentle girl, loyal and oh so goofy. I am glad she was able to live out the rest of her life in our home. Most older dogs rarely get adopted as everyone wants a puppy. If you find the right one, I would go with an older dog.
  5. Hubba: The training is a big issue for me. Not just housetraining, but all the other things you have to teach a dog to do that I'm not sure I will have the patience to do properly. That's partly why I'm looking into this option. Thanks for the help.

    Surfer: I'm completely clueless about age. I love puppies, but I definitely want a dog that is beyond the puppy stage. What age would you recommend for a first time owner?
  6. LV: That's an awesome and very reassuring story. Did you experience any problems with her getting used to you and your family, or anything along those lines? If so, how did you overcome them? Also, this is a general question and it might be a little naive, but how do I know if I find the 'right' one? What kind of things should I be looking for when I meet him/her for the first time? Thanks for your help.
  7. One thing you might do is go look at some of the rescue sites for the type/breed of doggie you want. Both of my rescues are 7 or 8, we are not sure, so they were considered older but not senior. I think getting a dog that is middle aged is great, they are already housebroken, they don't need as much exercise as a puppy (they still need some, but not all day). Call the rescue place and talk to the person and ask about middle age dogs and maybe you will feel more confortable.
  8. About 30 years ago we adopted a wonderful four-ish year old that we found wandering on the street. She loved us faithfully and vice versa all her life. About six years ago we adopted an adult male from an all-breed rescue group. We were forewarned that his personality was high-strung so we were prepared for the additional training that would be involved. I think that if you were to adopt from a shelter or a rescue group, they can give you a pretty good idea of the particular dog's personality b/c they evaluate all of them before making them available for adoption.

    You are doing a very commendable thing and I wish you all the best luck in the world!
  9. i just adopted an older shelter dog (she's five or six, we're not quite sure). i also volunteer at a shelter where the majority of the dogs are between one and five years old with the occasional younger or older dog. the nice think about older dogs is they're settled....most are VERY calm and don't need a whole lot of training. and the ones that are still high energy are less so than when they were puppies, so they listen better and are easier to train.

    lily is completely bonded and loyal to me and we've only been together for about three weeks. i think taking the first four or five days off work after i picked her up really helped, as did taking 2 long walks each of those days. she's lower energy than a puppy or younger dog would be, but definitely still loves to play. she was already mostly housebroken and knew some basic commands. we're going to go to training class soon for the socialization aspect and to strengthen our bond, but she doesn't NEED it to have good manners. it's the perfect mix for me....i haven't had a dog in a long time and i was craving more emotional/cuddle support from a pet than a training challenge. she does have her issues (very shy/timid) but it's actually kind of fun to see her become more confident around new people. she trusts me, so when i'm comfortable in a situation she warms up MUCH more quickly and stays more calm than if i'm not there.

    most shelters know the history of owner surrendered dogs....and even with strays the volunteers know a lot about their specific personalities. no shelter wants boomerang dogs (ones that come back multiple times....not good for dogs....they crave stability) so they do everything in their power to make the transition from shelter to home easier for you. they'll answer questions and give training suggestions/reccommend trainers or puppy classes in the area. they want happy dogs and happy people.

    as for finding "the right one"....make a list of what you want in a dog. do you want a very playful dog or more laid back dog that just kind of chills out? do you have time to play with/walk a high energy dog for an hour or more every day so they don't become distructive? do you want a very affectionate dog and have the time to be affectionate with them or do you want one that's more independent and won't become anxious when you're away for long periods of time? do you want a small dog or large one? are you prepared for the costs and room requirements of a larger dog? (everything for bigger dogs is more, crates, treats, shots, vet bills, EVERYTHING.) other than that, it's just a feeling. it's like finding the perfect wedding dress.

    i think the very best way to find the right dog for you is volunteer at a shelter if you can. that way you can really find a dog that fits you AND needs you. if you can't do that, make sure you spend a LOT of time with each dog you're considering. when they've been cooped up in their cages for a while it and are SO excited to get out AND get loves/attention, it can take up to 20-30 minutes and a LONG walk to get them to calm down and be their real personality....sometimes that personality is still really high energy, but sometimes they turn into completely different dogs. shelters get new dogs every if you don't find one the first time, go back again. if you know you want a specific breed, look into dog rescues. most of those dogs have been fostered in someone's home and they'll be their true personality already.

    for me, getting an older dog was the best decision i've ever made. puppies get adopted right away, but the older dogs are there for weeks or months usually.

    wow, that got long. i'm a little bit passionate about shelter rescues. :smile: good luck with your search!
  10. agreed 1000% -- every one of my dogs has been an adult when we got him/her, and let me tell you what a joy it is! i think the grown-ups are so starving for love that they appreciate being adopted in a way that puppies can't understand. plus they are often house trained and have basic manners, which is a nice bonus.

    we recently lost a dog to cancer (jeter's biopsy results just came back today), and both candidates to come live with us are adults. i highly recommend it!
  11. Don't let people discourage you, older dogs need love too. All dogs have their quirks, and will do things you do NOT like. Both of my pooches are trouble makers, which is why we affectionately call them the "Good Bad Dogs." Choose a shelter that will allow you to walk and interact with a dog before taking it home. Find a good obedience class in your area. Mostly, have fun with your new best friend. ;)
  12. Yeah, I had three adult poms that were completely attached to me (two I got at 1 year, one at 12). One of them, who was sweet and friendly as can be, would try to snap at anyone who tried to hug me if she was on my lap. She was only 3 lbs, so it wasn't a bid deal. I just adopted the baby I have now at 1.5 years. Because I wanted her specific breed, I waited for a few places and would have gotten a puppy if an adult hadn't turned up first. Luckily she did...she doesn't chew, potty trained, and, even though was skiddish with new people at the beginning, is in love with me now. I think, other than the tiny one that was overly protective of me, she's the most attached, loving dog I've had. Even moreso than the two puppies I raised that grew into adults. As far as age, I wanted one under two this time since my last few rescue poms were either elderly or terminal, so I waited for one that had a lot of time, given no illnesses. But, if I had found one that was the right fit with me, I would have went older without a second thought. It really depends on the dog, the breed, and how well he was taken care of and what you're willing to put into him/her.
  13. you can teach an old dog new tricks:p. the best part about not having a puppy, not dealing with chewing and they might even be housebroken. definently go for an older dog, especially if you are a 1st time dog owner, puppies can be a handful!

  14. We actually had very little problems with her. I am not sure what happened to her from her home to shelter life for 6 months, but she got really scared when we tried to put a collar and leash on her for a walk. She got really low to the ground and flinched sort of like she was getting ready to be hit or something. It was so sad; it was obvious that someone had abused her. Also as she was older she needed help in and out of the car, along with help getting up on my bed (hip problems being older).

    I would say after two weeks she was really part of our family and she new it. She was truly the most loving dog ever. I use to bring her babysitting with me and the little toddlers would try to ride her and often tugged on her ears and tail. Even with them she was ever so gently, never bit, barked or even pulled away from the kids. They could do whatever they wanted to her. Lizzy was an English Setter and estimated to be 6 or 7 years old. I hope to one day adopt another.

    Regarding finding the right one: I believe the animal chooses its owner. With Lizzy I walked up and down the kennels looking at all the dogs. The few I took out to get a closer look one just ran out as soon as the cage opened, another jumped all over me and everyone else, one I remember just sat there and did not seem interested in me one bit. Then when I got to Lizzys cage I opened it and she walked up to me, turned around then just sat right next to my legs. She did not look up, jump or anything like that. She just sat there, like she was waiting for me to give her instructions or something. I bent down to get a closer look and see what she was all about. As I sat on the ground, she put one paw on my shoulder and just stared at me. For me that was it, the sign she was meant to go home with me. The entire car ride she sat right next to me and would not stop trying to lick my face.

    [FONT=&quot]It's been 7 years since she passed and still her.[/FONT]
  15. So long as you and the dog like each other then I think it is a great idea. My first papillon was almost ten months when I got her and had only lived in breeders kennels with other dogs. She was a very sweet and devoted girl within a few days of bringing her home.
    She has since passed but I am picking up a three year old papillon soon and don't expect to have any problems as far as bonding goes. Like you, I would love a puppy but we both work and I felt an older dog would adapt easier and not have teething stages etc to go through.
    All praise to you too:tup: for being so sensible and not getting a cute little puppy like so many and THEN realising it was not the right choice.
    Good luck with your doggie choice!