Adopting a Dog – Puppy or Adult is the Question
Whenever you decide to add a new member to the family of the canine sort, there are many questions; what kind of dog, from a breeder, shelter or rescue, puppy, adolescent or adult, to name just a few. And if you decide to adopt a dog, always a wonderful choice because you’re saving a life, then you have to decide whether to look at puppies or adult dogs. Here’s some information to help you ponder.
Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Adult Dog?
By Meg Charendoff
Congratulations! You’ve decided to adopt a dog. It’s a big decision. But it’s only the first step in a process that will ideally result in a loving and a lasting relationship with your canine soul mate.
The next logical question to ask yourself is whether a puppy, an adolescent, or an adult dog is right for you. And, if you have a family, you must carefully consider what age of dog makes the most sense for them before you and your ecstatic children are face-to-face with that irresistible litter of tumbling puppies.
“Puppies are intoxicating,” says Marty Becker, DVM, author of the several best-selling pet books, including Why Do Dogs Drink Out of the Toilet? and Dogs for Dummies. “They have those giant eyes and that syrupy-sweet puppy breath that is so hard to resist. We forget, though, that the first year of a dog’s life is the same as 18 years of a human life, so your puppy will go through terrible twos, puberty, and teenage years all in about one year: that’s a lot to go through.”
Cuteness and puppy playfulness are two of the benefits of adopting a puppy. But, as Dr. Becker points out, raising a dog from puppyhood is a challenge. Puppy playfulness can mean high-energy hi-jinx, so be prepared to lose some shoes. Be prepared to lose some sleep too, as nighttime toileting comes with the territory. A puppy also requires a commitment to training and to proper veterinary care, both of which have an impact on your time and finances.
Still, you get to raise your dog from infancy and watch it grow. And while you probably won’t be able to eliminate behaviors that are characteristics of your dog’s breed or personality traits, you can have a great deal of impact on what kind of an adult dog your puppy becomes when you’re with him from the beginning.
Bringing Home an Adolescent
Adopting an older puppy or adolescent dog allows you to experience some of the enjoyable aspects of puppyhood while reducing some of the more challenging aspects of raising a dog. “You short cut some of the problems,” says Becker. “For example, the adolescent dog is probably already house trained. You still get the puppy playfulness without the other things that go with it.”
Of course, depending on the breed, adolescence can also bring its own challenges. For example, a large breed adolescent dog may mean a bigger and more hard-to-control dog with the same high-energy behaviors as a puppy. And when you adopt an older puppy or adolescent dog you have no control over the dog’s early training, and some difficult behaviors are harder to train away than others.
The Benefits of Adulthood
Your final option is to adopt an adult dog, an option Dr. Becker unabashedly promotes. “An adult dog is kind of hard to beat,” says Becker. “The dog has been through all of the negatives [of puppyhood and adolescence]. The people you adopt from can tell you what the dog is like, so you can do more than predict, you almost know, what you are getting. An adult dog is an intelligent choice.”
An adult dog is more likely to have matured beyond typical puppy behavior like teething or night toileting, so it is a lot easier for most people who already have hectic lives, says Dr. Becker. And while the oft-cited disadvantages of an adult dog include established habits, good and bad, and difficulty bonding, Dr. Becker disagrees, “What’s neat about dogs,” he says, “is that they have this bond with their owners…Dogs are so loyal. And you can have transference of that bond to you as a new owner and then they’d walk to the ends of the earth for you.”
As for dogs with bad habits, Dr. Becker says, “The one with behavior issues is not the one you’re going to adopt.” Some things you’ll be able to find out if you interview the shelter or person from whom you’re adopting the dog. And if you discover difficult habits or behaviors that you can’t deal with, you can return the dog to the shelter.
Adopting an adult dog also has the added ‘good deed’ benefit of giving a home to a dog that may otherwise be euthanized. “Lots of dogs want a good home,” says Dr. Becker. “So many are euthanized because there are not enough homes. It’s senseless slaughter.”
Making that Important Decision
How do you decide which dog is right for you?
“It’s like dating,’ says Dr. Becker with a laugh. “Think of it as if you are going out to find the right person, the right match. Say you were dating online, you wouldn’t form a relationship with the first person you meet, would you? No, you’d have a set of criteria for what you want and you’d learn what you could about the person: What’s this person like? What’s his family like? Does he fit your lifestyle? You should do the same thing with a dog.” And, he adds: â€œYou need to do your research before you meet the first puppy or dog, or you’ll fall in love with those puppy eyes.’
Meg Charendoff’s articles and essays appear regularly in local, regional and national publications. Most recently, her creative non-fiction was featured in Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. Meg lives in Elkins Park, Pa., with her four children and a chocolate lab.
Source – MSN Dog Central
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