The decision to get a dog can be an emotional one. Often, people have a preconceived bias toward getting a puppy. Here are our top five reasons why getting an older, mature dog may be a better choice.
Training. This is an area in which people often believe that starting out with a puppy is better than adopting an older dog. Puppies can be trained and conditioned to learn and understand the particular rules of a household, and because they have not had a lot of time to learn much, they have also not had the time to acquire any bad habits that a new owner would have to deal with. Many people also believe that dogs are easily trained only when they are young.
The reality is that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals and most adult dogs will readily and easily adapt to the rules of a new social group. Sometimes a mature, adult dog will have developed habits that are not welcome in a particular family. Fortunately, unless there has been abuse or extreme neglect, these traits can easily be resolved with clear communication to the dog of what is expected, and positive reinforcement of the adjusted behaviour. Like humans, dogs continue to learn throughout their lifetime. Older dogs may have already had some training. They will have had time to learn some human language and would also be able to read human body language more easily than puppies. You can teach an old dog new tricks!
Bonding. This is also something that is usually thought of in terms of getting a puppy. A lot of people think the bonding process between themselves and their dog will be stronger if the dog is acquired as a pup. Truthfully however, the first couple of years of a puppy’s life in its’ new home often bring conflicting emotions to the pet owner. Damage to the household due to teething, separation anxiety, and the escalating cost of owning a dog are all issues that must be successfully dealt with to build a strong bond of trust and friendship between owner and dog.
We see time and again, that older dogs, especially if they are rescued from unhappy situations, will often bond stronger than they did with their original owners. The same can be said for retired show dogs. Although often very well cared for, they may have lived their entire first few years in a kennel, never experiencing a family environment. These dogs also, bond very deeply with the person they view as their forever family.
More time. People may assume that there will be more years to enjoy the company of their dog if they start out with a young puppy. Realistically, the older dog will have gone through all its’ developmental stages and will have a mature personality that is ready to bond with a new owner. This can potentially take years off the learning curve of pet and pet owner bonding. The lucky owner may end up with just as much or more quality time to enjoy with their older dog.
Child safe? Some people believe a puppy raised with children will learn to bond with their children and therefore be trustworthy around them. However, puppies are not always the best choice for a household with children. Children’s high-pitched squeals and rapid movements may frighten some puppies, or trigger prey drive in a puppy that is in a critical social development stage. A mature, older dog will be fully emotionally developed and usually has the life experience and stability needed to cope with the sometimes erratic behaviours of children.
What you see is what you get. Choosing a furry companion, and getting the right match for you and your lifestyle, can often seem like a gamble. If a certain breed is your cup of tea, a puppy can be chosen from a particular bloodline and a litter can be decided on, thereby getting the exact breeding that you want. Puppies from reputable breeders will have been temperament tested and the puppy will be sold with some guarantee of health. How you raise it will determine the rest. Sometimes, retired show dogs in your breed of choice are sold to good homes as pets. Not only are your chosen bloodlines and breed characteristics assured, the temperament of an older dog will have been tested, and behavioural faults will have been trained out or corrected.
If happiness and joy are what you are looking for, consider an older dog from one of the rescue groups. Pets can come to rescue for various reasons. Maybe their owner passed away, or could not afford medical costs. Sometimes they are simply abandoned and alone. The years spent with an older, adopted dog are years you will treasure forever!
To many people a puppy is the epitome of everything adorable. But for all its’ cuteness, it can present the new pet owner with challenges that they may just not be ready, or equipped to deal with. An older dog may be already trained and easily taught to adapt to a new family. It will bond with the new owner, oftentimes stronger than with the original owner. The person may choose the fully-grown dog from the bloodlines of their choice, thereby taking all the guesswork and surprise out of the equation of choosing a puppy. All in all, the adult dog could be the ideal choice for many prospective pet owners looking to enhance their life with a wonderful canine companion.
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Author: Danielle Lea MacDonald, Certified Master Groomer IPG, ISCC. Pivotal member of the Society of Holistic Pet Stylists. Lifetime Member In Good Standing International Society of Canine Cosmetologists.
Danielle's Studio is a full-service, pet grooming spa designed exclusively for grooming small dogs.
I am committed to meeting the highest standards of the Pet Styling Industry. Grooming is my passion!
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