Veterinarians say that dogs start to fall into the category of “senior” around the age of 7. However, it depends on size. The smaller the dog, the later in life the dog becomes a senior. Nonetheless, a dog in a shelter can be as young as 5 and still have trouble finding a new home. Technically speaking, many of these dogs aren’t “seniors” in the veterinary sense of the term, but to many prospective adopters they are already “over the hill.” Of course, that isn’t true. Dogs, when well cared for and given appropriate exercise, remain happy, active, playful and puppy-like well into their senior years
Older dogs lose their homes for many different reasons. Most of them having nothing to do with problems the dog has, but rather with those of the person or family surrendering the dog. Many folks think dogs who end up at shelters or in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred, well-trained dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them. Other reasons older dogs become homeless: death of a guardian….not enough time for the dog…… change in work schedule….. new baby…..need to move to a place where dogs are not allowed…. kids going off to college…. allergies…. change in “lifestyle”…. prospective spouse doesn’t like dogs.
So what advantages are there to considering a senior dog for adoption?
- Older dogs are housetrained. You won’t have to go through the difficult stage(s) of teaching a puppy house manners and mopping up after accidents.
- Older dogs are not teething puppies and won’t chew your shoes and furniture while growing up.
- Older dogs can focus well because they’ve mellowed. Therefore, they learn quickly.
- Older dogs have learned what “NO” means. If they hadn’t learned it, they wouldn’t have gotten to be older dogs.
- Older dogs settle in easily because they’ve learned what it takes to get along with others and to be part of a pack.
- Older dogs are good at giving love once they get into their new, loving home. They’re grateful for the second chance they’ve been given.
- What You See Is What You Get. Unlike puppies, older dogs have grown into their shape and their personality. Puppies can grow up to be quite different from what they seemed at first.
- Older dogs are instant companions — ready for hiking, car trips, and other things you like to do.
- Older dogs leave you time for yourself because they don’t make the kinds of demands for your time and attention that young dogs do.
- Older dogs let you get a good night’s sleep because they’re accustomed to human schedules and don’t generally require night-time feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.
Finally, older dogs are a “known commodity.” They are easy to assess for temperament, and you also don’t have to guess how big they’ll grow or whether they’ll turn out to have serious behavior problems.