Some of the most overlooked dogs in the shelter systems are seniors. They often sit in their kennels day after day watching other younger dogs prance out the door on the way to their forever home. Though many people look for a puppy or a young adult dog when they decide to adopt, there are so many reasons to consider giving a senior dog a home.
November is National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, a time dedicated to helping dogs in their golden years find a forever home — and senior dogs who have arrived in the shelter system need all the help they can get. At a time when they should be pampered and cherished, these senior pups find themselves in unfamiliar, scary environments without the slightest idea what they did to deserve it. It’s heartbreaking.
Depending on breed, a dog is classified as senior around 6-7 years old for large and giant breed dogs, 8-9 years for medium-sized breeds and 10-12 years for toy and small breeds. Of course, individual dogs may decide to ignore those statistics. (Maggie, an Australian sheep dog that died in 2016 when she was 30 years old!) If you’re hesitant about adopting a senior because you’re worried you will lose them too soon, you may actually have more time together than you think. (There’s even a study focusing on what makes a dog live longer.)
Senior dogs make some of the greatest pets.
Here are some of the deets on why a senior dog may be just what you’re looking for.
Elder Dogs Are Often Housetrained.
While puppies may be cute, they take a lot of work. Many senior dogs have already mastered housetraining as well as other commands. Though they may take a few days to get used to a new environment, a golden oldie usually knows to wait until you take them outside to relieve themselves. You may have to schedule more frequent potty breaks, but think of the benefits you will reap from the increased exercise.
Senior Dogs Are Less Destructive.
Senior dogs have mellowed with age. A puppy may chew through your entire shoe collection, but most seniors know that only their toys and treats are for chewing. A senior dog is also more mellow and less likely to display destructive behavior, so your breakables have more of a chance of remaining unbroken.
Older Dogs Can Be Easier to Walk.
A puppy without experience walking on a leash can be difficult to walk. A senior dog is more likely to be a pro at leash walking. They won’t drag you down the sidewalk, zigzag in front of you, or trip you by wrapping their leash around your ankles. Senior dogs are more content to walk at your side and smell the roses.
Senior Dogs are Calmer and Gentler.
After a few short walks, a senior dog will probably be happy to cuddle and nap the day away. Seniors have a calmer temperament and may bark less than a younger dog. They are more relaxing to spend time with as they’re often content just to snuggle.
What You See Is What You Get.
Puppies are the great unknown. You don’t know exactly how big a puppy will get or what their adult temperament will be. With a senior dog, you know exactly what you’re getting in terms of size, appearance, behavior and basic personality.
Senior Dogs May Be a Good Choice for First-Time Dog Parents.
Since a senior dog is usually housebroken and knows basic commands, a rookie can take their time learning how to train their dog. A senior dog is usually more socialized and acclimated to life and the environment.
Senior Dogs Are Great Emotional Support.
Because senior dogs have been around the block, they’re calmer and more accustomed to relating to humans. They are more likely to be content lying at your side when you need some comfort, while puppies can be overwhelming.
You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.
Senior dogs are just as enthusiastic to learn new tricks as younger dogs, but they also have the calm ability to pay attention to you. And even if you find that a senior doesn’t know the basic commands, they will be very eager to learn. Senior dogs know how lucky they are to have found a home.
Older Dogs are Grateful.
Senior dogs know they have hit the jackpot when you adopt them. They will forever look at you as their hero. They will shower you with devotion and gratitude just for being you.
You Will Save a Life.
Senior dogs are often overlooked. In the crowded shelter system, seniors don’t have much time to be adopted. A senior dog will be euthanized to make room for younger dogs who are considered more likely to be adopted. By adopting a senior dog, you are not only saving that dog’s life; you are also potentially saving another life by freeing up space at the shelter.