Adopting an Older Dog

Adopting an Older Dog

When thinking of adopting anew dog, not many people consider an older dog as an option. Though there are a number of challenges with adopting an older or senior dog, there are some amazing benefits too. So here are some of the challenges and benefits to help you decide is an older dog is for you!


Benefit: You’ll Know Their Temperament When you adopt from shelter, it’s likely you’ll get the opportunity to learn more about the dog and it’s personality. Especially if it’s been there a while. Staff at the shelter will be able to tell you how they are with other dogs, children, people and other animals. Their behaviour is more predictable as their personalities are already developed.

Since senior pets are fully grown, you’ll be immediately aware of important information like personality type and grooming requirements, making it easier to choose the perfect pet for your family. You’ll also know their full-grown size and activity level, and how that might affect your lifestyle.

Benefit: Less Training Required - Puppies usually require a lot more work than older dogs when it comes to behaviour management and training. An older dog is more likely to have some training and know the basics (sit, stay, recall etc.). They’ll also be housetrained and would have grown out of puppy-like behaviours such as chewing and toileting accidents.

 It’s nice to adopt a dog who likely knows what ‘no’ means and who can comfortably be left alone in a house or apartment—because they’ve got years of experience!

Benefit: Lower Exercise Needs - Okay so this might not seem like a benefit, all dogs need exercise, but if you’re an older person yourself or not a fan or not able to go out a few times a day, an older dog might fit much better with your life/lifestyle.

Older dogs still need walks and interaction though. Interaction is good mentally and walks keep them moving. But where a younger dog might need to go out for a run or off-leash time, an older dog might be happy going for a walk around the neighbourhood in the morning and at night and they’re happy to chill out during the day.

Since some older dogs suffer from arthritis, activity level in an older dog will vary based on health condition. It is important to pay attention to the signs the dog provides to you as well. When they are indicating to you that they are tired, turn around or go for shorter walks.

Challenge: Separation Anxiety etc - Puppies are generally flexible in their nature; everything is new to them, so adjusting tends to be a bit easier. But older dogs may have settled into a routine—and it can sometimes take them a little while to adjust to new circumstances.

Older dogs may experience longer adjustment periods, which can perpetuate or breed separation anxiety in them. Especially if they’re previously from a home where their owner was around all day and is now in a home where they’re left for periods of time.

To help your older dog with that particular challenge, it’s important to develop a routine with them early on. Give your new pet time, space and the emotional support the need to settle in before introducing new people or taking them to scary new places

Challenge: Health Issues – Older sogs are more likely to already have or develop age related health problems. If you’re looking to adopt an older dog, you need to be prepared to manage these issues with vet visits, medications, therapy etc.

The senior dog you adopt could be a healthy old dog and not need a lot of extra vet care but some of them might get some health problems. These can be simple things like a urinary tract infection to other things like kidney disease, cancer and chronic arthritis.

It’s unlikely that puppies will have these kinds of issues (whilst they’re young), so you need to prepare yourself for these challenges, but don’t worry; there is so much support out there for you and your senior dog.

Challenge: Mobility Issues – This sort of goes hand in hand with the previous challenge, an older dog may suffer with arthritis or general; age-related mobility problems. The size of dog you adopt might be something you have to consider too if you want an older dog.

Please do bear in mind that everything in this post is strictly advisory and has been gathered from various reputable sources from the internet. We're not vets, and you should always seek professional advice if you ever have concerns.


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Jan 07 2022
by Claire