No one can deny that seeing the little wet nose and wiggly tail of a puppy is the cutest thing in the world. That’s why puppies tend to get adopted from shelters quickly. Unfortunately, the stats aren’t the same for senior dogs.
It could be a societal thing. As a whole, we tend to give seniors and elders less credit and support than younger groups. Elder abuse impacts about 1 in 10 adults over the age of 60. Older people are easier to ignore. If you think that doesn’t translate into older dogs too, you’re wrong. Senior dogs make up the majority of dogs in shelters across the country.
People have plenty of reasons for not adopting an older pet. They might be worried about getting too attached only to have the dog pass away after a short time. Or, they might be worried about the extra expense of vet bills, which can easily be remedied with pet insurance.
Owning a senior dog isn’t as expensive as people think, anyway. Shelters are usually looking to find them good homes, so you might be able to adopt them at a lower price, instead of getting an expensive puppy or going through a breeder.
So, if you’re ready to become a new pet owner and you’re in the market to adopt a dog, why not consider one with a little gray on their fur? Let’s look at some of the top reasons why senior dogs are the best.
1. They’re Calmer
The image of a new puppy running around the house with the kids is precious, but all of that energy can also do more harm than good. A younger dog typically needs a lot of exercise and attention, or they could start chewing on furniture, clothes, and your designer handbag.
Younger dogs can also be more aggressive and territorial. Even as they grow out of puppyhood, they can have energy abound. That can be let out through anything from barking at the mail carrier or chasing strangers down the street, to tearing up your favorite pair of shoes.
Senior dogs are typically much calmer and docile. They tend to prefer rest over chasing. While some seniors do have plenty of energy left, it is typically absent of the aggression and hyperactivity that younger dogs often seem to have. Senior dogs are perfect for families with young children because they’re usually calmer. But they’re also wonderful for individuals who are simply looking for a loyal companion to come home to.
2. They Aren’t “Problem Dogs”
One of the reasons people stay away from adopting senior dogs is because they assume they’re in a shelter because they have behavioral issues. More often than not, that isn’t the case.
Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons why senior dogs tend to end up there is because their owners are either no longer to take care of them, or they have passed away.
In fact, many senior dogs have had a life of love, and they’re ready to give more of it! Don’t assume there are major issues with any older dog in a shelter. Ask about their history, so you can see how well they would fit in with your family.
3. They Are Often Already Trained
Any puppy owner will tell you one of the most frustrating parts of owning a new dog is training it. Puppies have to be housebroken and learn the “basic” commands in order to follow orders and stay safe.
Many senior dogs already know basic commands like “sit” and “stay,” and most are fully housebroken, so you don’t have to worry about messes in your home.
The old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks simply isn’t true. In fact, older dogs have greater attention spans than puppies and young dogs, so they’re more likely to stick with you as you try to teach them something new, and stick with it until they get it right. If you don’t have the time or patience to fully train a young dog, you could have a much easier experience doing it with a dog who already has the basics down.
4. They Are Perfect Companions
Again, a lot of time and energy goes into training and acclimating a puppy or younger dog into a home. Older dogs are often perfect companions for anything because they’re already established, one way or another. Whether you want a workout partner, a snuggle buddy at night, or just the comfort of their company after a long day, a senior dog is ready to be whatever you need them to be.
You also know what you’re getting with a senior dog. They already have a personality. They’re not going to grow or change anymore like a puppy would. If they have any serious health issues, they would probably have already manifested, etc.
Simply put, there usually aren’t any real “surprises” with a senior dog, which is reassuring to people who want a dog but don’t want a lot of stress to come with it.
5. You’re Saving a Life
Senior dogs need just as much love and attention as younger ones. Unfortunately, they often get overlooked without good reason.
When you choose to adopt a senior dog, you could be saving their life. Shelters throughout the country are often full of pets needing good homes. Because puppies and younger animals tend to get adopted quickly, it’s normal for a shelter to accept more of them, while pushing out dogs that are older.
If older dogs aren’t adopted within a certain amount of time, they can be euthanized. By adopting an older dog instead of a younger one, you could be saving it from a grim fate.
6. They’re Built-in “Babysitters”
No, we’re not suggesting you leave your young child home alone with your senior dog. What we do mean is that older dogs can be great teachers and “watchers” of younger dogs. So, if you really do want to adopt a puppy or younger dog, you might consider either getting a senior dog at the same time, or getting a senior dog first and a younger dog later.
Older dogs tend to have natural instincts for calming down younger ones. They can show them the ropes when it comes to how things work around the house. Plus, they’ll be an instant companion for any younger dog, and can help puppies to burn off some of that extra energy!
7. They Are Grateful
Again, most senior dogs don’t end up in shelters because they’re bad, sick, or have behavioral issues. Many of them come from a life of love. Many of them either had families or a doting owner before. So, for them to be thrust into a cage or kennel in a new place isn’t easy.
That could be one of the reasons why senior dogs seem so grateful when they’re adopted and taken into a home. A young dog or puppy will bond with you, but they’re usually far more interested in exploring and playing. An older dog is more likely to become attached to you quickly, and won’t want to leave your side.
8. Perfect for a Variety of Pet Owners
Because senior dogs are typically less-maintenance, calmer, and already trained, they can be perfect for someone who hasn’t owned a dog before. It’s still important to do your research on what kind of senior dog food to buy, how much exercise they need, what medical care might be necessary, but in general, a senior dog can be a much easier introduction into pet ownership than a puppy.
Senior dogs are also great for people who live in smaller spaces, because they won’t need a lot of room to run around and blow off steam. If you live in an apartment that allows pets, you should absolutely consider a senior dog. Not only are they less likely to make a bunch of noise and disturb others, but there’s less of a risk of your belongings getting destroyed because they’re “bored” while you’re away.
Finally, if you have a disability of some kind, or can’t be fully mobile, a senior dog can still be a great companion. Because they typically don’t have as much energy as younger dogs, you won’t have to exercise them nearly as much. Walks are still important, but older dogs tend to go at a slower, more leisurely pace, which might be more comfortable for you, depending on your condition.
As you can see, there are many different reasons why senior dogs are the best, and this is just the start!
We all know it’s tempting to look into the sweet faces of a young dog or puppy and melt, but if you’re looking for a furry friend to bring home, don’t overlook the senior dogs at your local shelters. Learn what you can about them, and take pride in knowing you can give them a forever home full of love and care for the rest of their lives.