When it comes to getting a new dog, you really do have many great options! Most folks want to get a young puppy, to be able to shape that puppy’s behavior as it grows, hoping that it will be a great fit with their family. That’s not a bad thought, really, but let me give you some additional food for thought, and offer some good options that you might not have thought much about!
First of all, puppies are a whole lot of work. They really are. It’s honestly like bringing a baby into your home, and you need to approach it as such. Just like human babies need lots of supervision and work, a puppy will need just as much…if you want to have a great dog, that is! Many naughty behavioral issues that I deal with every single day come from a puppy not being supervised well enough, and getting themselves into mischief that can be dangerous and/or costly for their owners.
What can often happen, is that owners are vigilant at first, and the puppy figures things out and comes along with the family patterns of life. As the puppy grows up, he becomes more predictable, so owners assume he’s got it, and suddenly…lots of freedom with very little supervision! And often the puppy is getting big at this point, so owners forget that even though their puppy may be close to adult size, their little puppy brains and emotions are still very much immature, and needing direction and consistent leadership.
Puppies are rough on kids. There is often a love/hate relationship between kids and their young puppy! On one hand, the kids love their puppy and want to play with him, and pet him and enjoy him. However, puppies often jump and nip (sometimes breaking skin by accident) and they just terrify kids! They knock kids down, they steal their toys, and kids get tired of being picked on by their family puppy! Many times, kids are just plain scared of their own family puppy, and that results in multiple meltdowns daily!
It’s important to note that just as a child’s personality and foundation is formulated in their first five years of life, for puppies, you’ll want to really work hard with socializing them well into adulthood so that you won’t see ugly things such as aggressive behavior take root! That means constant, conscious efforts to get your puppy out of the house and yard and into new environments so that he can be exposed to new sights, smells, and sounds.
Puppies are also tons of laughs, and they can breathe new life into us! Watching them explore their world, and investigate things for the first time can be so much fun! We find ourselves becoming a kid again, when we’re holding a brand new puppy….and we dream dreams, and hope all sorts of hopes for their lives with us.
Many people steer clear from adult dogs, thinking that their behavior is set in stone and they can’t learn new things. I’ve had great success shaping behavior in adult dogs, so don’t let that stop you! Just remember that when you adopt an adult, you may inherit behavior that you don’t like, that the previous owner was unable or unwilling to fix! The previous owner may very well have enabled or created the problem behavior that you see in your adult dog, but that doesn’t meant that you can’t teach your dog to behave in a new way that is more acceptable to you and your family. Getting a professional trainer involved from the very start can make a really wonderful difference in teaching that adult dog the behavior that is expected in his new home. Adult dogs are generally calmer, so they focus more easily, and learn new behavior quickly if owners reinforce the new behavior I teach.
Senior dogs are so often overlooked, and they are often really fantastic pets to adopt! Most of the time, I hear folks say that their only drawback is that seniors won’t live very long, and they don’t want to say good-bye any time soon. I completely understand that, but keep in mind that there’s never any guarantee that our dogs will live very long anyway. Senior dogs are often calmer, more mellow pets, and that’s a great combination with kids…provided the dog is kid friendly.
Seniors can sometimes have health issues which can be expensive and stressful, but a young puppy who chews a hole in a leather sofa or destroys baseboard cabinets is also going to create some additional expense for a family as well! Seniors can adapt well to a new home, and honestly just want someone to love them. They are lower energy, requiring less exercise, which can be a big bonus for owners with a busy lifestyle.
When it comes to making a difference in the world, seniors and black dogs are the least adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues. In kill shelters, they are the very first dogs to be euthanized, as unadoptable. Puppies almost always find homes. They have the cuteness factor, and the promise of long lives in their favor. Just remember that with an adult dog, especially a mixed breed, you’ll know how big your dog will be, and what his temperament and personality will be like. That’s a present you’ll unwrap daily with a young puppy!
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a few new things to consider when you’re thinking about your next furry addition to your family! There’s no perfect answer….except the one that’s exactly right for you and your family!