By Margaret Bonham for The Dog Daily
Is there room in your house for a new dog? If so, new doesn't necessarily mean young. For many of us, an adult dog is often a better choice for a new canine companion than a puppy would be. Adult dogs are usually housetrained and they often know a few commands. Puppies, on the other hand, require training from scratch, and that means more work for you. While it's natural to be drawn to the cuteness of a puppy, the truth is that puppy cuteness only lasts for a few months. Here's the truth behind adult dog adoption.
Myths About Older Dog Adoption
It's a myth that adult dogs cannot bond well with new owners. All dogs -- even adults -- are social animals with a pack mentality. Your planned pack may only consist of you and your new pooch, but when your furry housemate learns to view you as the pack leader, you will be that canine's beloved top dog. Humans have enhanced this natural loyalty by breeding domestic dogs to stay in a kind of permanent adolescence known as neoteny. This trait further enables a dog to bond with different people over its lifetime.
In addition to the bonding myth, other falsehoods about adopting older dogs continue to persist. "There is a myth that says you must bring a puppy home at seven weeks," says Sheila Webster Boneham, PhD, author of Breed Rescue: How to Start and Run a Successful Program, and founder of the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Indiana. "Nonsense! That idea comes from a misinterpretation of research that showed that puppies must have human contact beginning no later than the seventh week or they won't bond to people. But that means people in general."
Boneham has personally placed 50 adult dogs. She also supervised the placement of more than 200 dogs in rescue and has counseled more than 100 owners who adopted dogs from shelters. Based on her experience, adult dogs bond as well as puppies do. "Some dogs take a little more TLC, but I have found adult dogs to be extremely resilient, and most are driven to be connected to a person or family," she says.
Perhaps the most prevalent myth about homeless older dogs is that they wound up in their predicament because they were problem pooches. According to the Senior Dogs Project, a group dedicated to educating others about adopting older dogs, it's the owners and not the dogs that usually had the problem or, more than likely, a lifestyle change. For example, people often surrender a dog when they move, experience a change in their work schedule, take in a relative who is allergic to pets or even because a new spouse or partner simply didn't want Rover around to steal away attention. You could be the lifesaver for such an abandoned canine.
Match Made In Heaven
The benefits of adopting an adult dog are many. A grown dog is as predisposed to bond with you as a puppy would be. And it's far less likely to chew up your couch or to ruin your rug. Who knows? Maybe your canine soul mate is an older dog that is waiting for someone like you to shower it with head rubs and care in return for its doggie love and loyalty.
Margaret Bonham an award-winning writer and pet expert, has written several books on dogs, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pet Health and Nutrition and A Dog's Wisdom.