Picking the right pet can be a challenge. Bringing a new pet into your home is a commitment. Training, Socialization, play, exercise, and basic interactions are all essentials for cats, dogs, and other pets that may not do well when left on their own.
Because adopting a dog is a long term responsibility, we want to help you choose just the right dog for you, your family and your lifestyle. The more you know BEFORE you start the adoption process, the better your experience will be.
Take some time to find out about different types of dogs and cats. Consider these things before choosing to adopt a pet:
Your family’s activity level. If your family is the type that goes hiking often you will probably want a pet that you can take with you. If your family tends to stay at home to relax, a cat or a low-activity dog may be better for you.
Pet size. Is your home, yard, and car big enough to accommodate a large-breed dog? Are you able to physically handle a large dog? Do you have any physical conditions that may prevent you from exercising or caring for your dog?
Your schedule. Remember: dogs require more time and effort than cats. Cats are wonderful for people who like the companionship but don’t have time to walk a dog everyday or let it out every few hours to do “business.” Consider exercise needs, daily walks, feeding, training, and attention.
Coat type. Generally speaking, long-haired dogs will require regular grooming either by you or a professional groomer. This can be very time-consuming (not to mention expensive!). Also consider shedding – long or thick haired dogs tend to shed a lot.
Your budget. Owning a pet can be expensive and this should be taken into account before bringing him/her home. Costs to consider are the weekly food bill, bedding, toys and other equipment, veterinary care, boarding kennel fees, enrollment fees for training classes, grooming/clipping fees. Keep in mind that large dogs also require large amounts of food and grooming and vet bills can be more expensive.
Your family. Do you have kids or family members with special needs? Some breeds of dogs have known tendencies to bite. Others are known to be extremely high energy dogs who require a great deal of attention and exercise, such as border collies. Young children, in particular, should place restrictions on the type of dog you can get. You will also need to be able to properly supervise your children and dog at all times.
- Has everybody in the family happily agreed to getting the pet? It is heartbreaking when pets are turned into shelters or abandoned because someone in the family did not want it.
- Does anyone have allergies? Spend time with different types of pets if you can. Regardless of claims that a dog is “hypoallergenic,” find out for yourself before you adopt. Dogs can produce dander, which people can be allergic to.
Please do not adopt a pet as a surprise gift. Many pets are turned into animal shelters every year because the recipient of the pet did not want it. Pets have thoughts and feelings just like we do and it is frightening and confusing to be dumped at a shelter. If you want to give a pet as a gift, please bring the recipient of the pet with you to choose one for themselves. Or ask if you can purchase a “pet gift certificate” that would allow the person to select a pet when they are ready.
Advantages to Adopting an Adult or Senior Dog
Puppies, although cute and moldable, are a handful and labor intensive! Soiled carpeting and rugs, late nights and early mornings, runny stools, teething and other things such as chewing, digging, barking, nipping, scratching and jumping are just some of the behavior challenges owners will have to confront again. Following are the unique advantages to adopting an older dog.
What you see is what you get
With an older dog you know what you’re getting in terms of size, physical appearance, health and temperament. They have already developed their personalities, temperaments, and physical characteristics. There is no way to know whether the tiny puppy you adopt today will be 90 pounds of hard-to-manage dog a year from now, or if she will shed constantly or fall victim to a genetic disease.
Low physical demands
Fortunately these animals are not as demanding as some of their younger counterparts. Although they still need quality time in the form of attention and walks, they may be more content to sleep and curl up at your feet and nap. The nice thing about older animals is that they will prefer quiet walks to running or active play and will usually not pull you around on the leash or jump on you.
Training a puppy means starting at ground zero; an older dog will most likely be housebroken and may have had previous training. At the very least, an older dog will not have to be fed or taken outside as often as a younger one, and can be left alone for longer periods of time. The older the dog, the more independent they can be.
Great for older people
Older dogs often make great companions for older people, who don’t have the stamina to keep up with a young, energetic dog.
Longer attention spans
Contrary to the old myth which says “You can’t train an old dog to do new tricks,” training can actually be quicker because they probably may already know some of the “basics” (come, sit, stay, etc.). You can use this to your advantage to teach more advanced commands or tricks. In fact, older dogs have a longer attention span, and often give more recognition to their trainers than puppies and young dogs do. Because they have “mellowed” they can often be easier to train making them great candidates for new tricks and further training.
Won’t chew inappropriate items
Older dogs are not teething puppies, and won’t chew your shoes and furniture while growing up. An older dog has already gone through the destructive phases of adolescence and puppyhood, and will most likely be more focused and self-disciplined.
Settles in much quicker
Older dogs settle in easily, because they’ve learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack.
Knows what “no” means
Older dogs have learned what “no” means. If they hadn’t learned it, they wouldn’t have gotten to be “older” dogs.
A good night’s sleep
Older dogs let you get a good night’s sleep because they’re accustomed to human schedules and don’t generally need nighttime feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.
Give you more time for yourself
Older dogs leave you time for yourself, because they don’t make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young dogs do.
By adopting an older dog, you bring into your home a more mature thinker, and in many cases a very intelligent dog (intelligent dogs can be hard to handle – which is why so many end up in rescue). While they may have emotional issues to overcome, they more than make up for that in the fact that they learn FAST. Adopting an older dog is like a “pass” to skip the chewing phase and fast-forward through housebreaking. Many older dogs up for adoption are already housebroken, but if they aren’t, housebreaking can be accomplished over the course of a few days instead of weeks or months.
With all the superb qualities possessed by older dogs, it is unfortunate that they are of often overlooked. Before heading to the nearest puppy kennels in search of your next companion, take a moment to ponder the possibilities of an older dog. You may be surprised what (and who) you find. If your time is limited, consider an adult dog. A puppy that is left alone all day can’t learn how you want it to act. It could take months, or even years, before you reach the same comfortable relationship with a puppy that you could have with an older dog in a matter of days.
Safer for small children than kittens
Households with small children can also be dangerous for a young kitten. An adult cat can physically tolerate more handling from a child and are able to avoid a child that may be too rough. Also children often are looking for a kitten to snuggle with and hold, yet kittens are more interested in playing and bouncing about. With all the superb qualities possessed by older cats, it is unfortunate that they are often overlooked. 84% of adopters are looking for a cat under one year of age. Before heading to the nearest kitten area in search of your next companion, take a moment to ponder the possibilities of an older cat. You may be surprised what (and who) you find!