Puppies are adorable, there’s no question about it. They’re are also a lot of work when you add one to your family.
I recently added a canine family member, and even though the cute, cuddly puppies were tempting, I chose an adult dog. Here are five reasons why I recommend that you do the same when you adopt a dog (notice that I said adopt, as it’s so much better to get your new friend from an animal shelter or rescue than a breed or pet store that’s probably getting its stock from a puppy mill):
1) Adult dogs are often housebroken already. Puppies pee and poo, and they do it a lot. You can only expect a puppy to hold its bladder for as many hours as its age in months. For example, a three month old puppy can typically wait three hours, while it’s four hours for a four month old. Still, that cute little fuzzy critter has no idea that you want it to do its business outside. You’d better have a lot of time and patience during the learning process and be prepared for a lot of carpet cleaning.
Many adult dogs are given to animal shelters because their owners are moving, having a baby, or simply don’t want them anymore. Such dogs are often housebroken already. My new dog, Bolt, was found as a stray, but I quickly learned that he was fully potty trained. He had a couple of accidents in the first couple of days until he settled in. Then I never had to worry about piddling or pooping in the house again.
2) Adult dogs often know the basic commands. Almost every one teaches their dog basics such as “sit,” “come,” and “shake hands” and at least a few leash manners. Surprisingly, my new dog wasn’t one of them. The poor thing didn’t even know how to sit when I asked him, but a round of obedience classes quickly took care of that.
However, if you want a dog that’s already had some training, it’s easy to find a nice adult dog at the shelter who responds to your commands. That will save you both time and money since you can skip the basic obedience classes that most people do with puppies.
3) Adult dogs have established personalities. With a puppy, you can take a guess based on the way it interacts with you and its litter mates, but you really don’t know what it will be like when it grows up. Adult dogs already have established traits, so you can choose a dog that’s shy, brave, playful, quiet, or whatever else you’re seeking. The personality is readily apparent in the shelter, and if the dog was turned in by its former owners, you’ll probably get some additional information on its traits.
I could see that Bolt was a bold but loving dog as soon as I met him at the shelter. There was no guesswork involved. With a mature dog, what you see is what you get.
4) Adult dogs are often less destructive. It’s true that some dogs do destructive behaviors like chewing all their lives, but others outgrown those tendencies once they’re done teething and get older and more mature. I really didn’t want to go through that teething phase and deal with all that puppy energy, so an adult dog was the perfect choice for me. Yes, Bolt loves to chew, but only appropriate toys and treats.
5) Adult dogs have a harder time getting adopted. My previous four reasons were selfish ones. They showcased the ways in which an adult dog makes things easier for the adopter. This last reason is perhaps the most important because it’s all about the dog.
Most people head right for the puppies and pass by the dogs that are over a year old. Adults have a much harder time winning over new families and thus are the ones euthanized most frequently. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, other than being past the “cuteness” stage.
Bolt had been at the shelter over a month when I adopted him and was definitely on borrowed time. I’m sure he’d been passed over many times for puppies. but I knew he was the perfect dog for me.
It’s great to save a dog from a shelter or rescue, no matter what its age, but choosing an adult gives you a special satisfaction. Not only do you gain a friend for life, but you save a life too.