For the past few months the Shroff’s were debating buying a dog. It was three years since their last dog had passed away. But with the tight schedule the family had, what with school, tuitions, the cook off on vacation, and Mr. Shroff putting in extra hours at work, Mrs. Shroff just didn’t have time to bring up a puppy. So the family did the next best thing –they adopted an abandoned two-year-old Labrador-Cross. The dog fit right into their busy lifestyle, and the Shroff’s are thrilled to finally have a canine share their lives again.
Most people looking for a dog think that they automatically want a puppy. In many ways, a puppy is a wonderful thing. And the joy of bringing up a dog from puppy hood is an experience in itself. But a pup also needs to be housebroken, trained and has lots of needs that must be met.
For inexperienced owners, busy families, or those who want an easy life and a quiet companion, a puppy may not be a wise choice. On the other hand, owning an older dog can have its own advantages. Here’s why a mature pet can sometimes be a better option than a puppy:
Less time and effort needed
Mature canines are less energetic and demanding than their younger counterparts and often make great companions for older or busy people who don’t have the stamina or time to keep up with the needs of a young, active dog. Like any animal, an older dog will require quality time in the form of attention and walks, but it is likely to be more content just curling up at your feet to take a nap. It will not have to be fed or taken outside as often as a puppy, and can be left alone for longer periods of time. And unlike a pup, an older dog will sleep through the night and won’t wake you up at 5 a.m. to play.
What you see is what you get
With a pup there is no way of knowing whether the dog you adopt will grow to be huge in size, shed constantly or even have behaviour problems. Whereas with a mature dog, you know what you’re getting in terms of size, physical appearance, health and you get to see exactly what the personality of the dog is. Depending on how much you know about the dog’s history, you may even know about any problems he has and be prepared to deal with them.
No chewed up shoes!
Puppies are undeniably cute. However, as anyone who has ever raised a puppy knows it takes time, patience and plenty of training to bring up a pup properly. Puppies growing up without rules can be unruly, and destroy the house in a matter of days. For those families who can’t handle the stress of an energetic and destructive puppy, a laid back adult dog is the best choice. A mature dog has already gone through the destructive phases of puppy-hood and adolescence, and is more likely to be well behaved and disciplined.
One of the biggest drawbacks of keeping a puppy is the toilet training phase. Whilst the puppy gets the hang of toileting in the correct place, an owner has to make do with messy puddles and smelly parcels all over the house. And, housetraining a pup requires endless vigilance, time and patience. An older dog on the other hand, is very likely to be housebroken and if not, it will be easier to train than a puppy because it will have better bladder control.
You can teach an old dog new tricks
Most of the older dogs that have been part of families will have a fair understanding of manners and training. The dog may even know how to walk on a leash, ride in the car and understand basic commands. It is also likely to be well behaved around a house and unlike a pup won’t jump onto the sofa, steal from the kitchen or beg at the table.
In addition, you can have a great time training your older dog. With rewards and encouragement, you can teach him new tricks and commands.
Saving a life
This is perhaps the most compelling reason for giving an older dog a home. Anyone who runs a shelter will tell you that it is easy to get a cute puppy adopted within days, but older dogs have a harder time.
A person may not want an older dog, afraid of the reasons why it was abandoned in the first place. Though there are cases where dogs are abandoned due to behaviour or training problems, there are also positive reasons. Many older dogs are surrendered to shelters or given up due to a change in life circumstances, such as a move, divorce, loss of a job or the birth of a child. These dogs are used to being part of a family and with love and care will soon become a much-loved member of your household.
Today, the dog and the kids are inseparable and Mrs Shroff says her family couldn’t be happier. “Queenie has the most wonderful personality. I can’t believe anybody abandoned her. She sleeps all night, is house-trained and is devoted to the kids. She fit right into our schedule. Literally overnight, this dog has become a cherished member of our family.”
With all the superb qualities possessed by older dogs, it is unfortunate that they are often overlooked. So the next time you consider keeping a dog, why not give an older dog a chance? You’ll be saving a precious life and you’re sure to receive many years of love in return.