In the UK, tens of thousands of older dogs are abandoned or given up to a shelter every year. Lisa Guiney, our Dog Adoption Officer, tells us all about the benefits of rehoming a more mature four-legged friend.
Many people automatically think of getting a puppy or young dog when it comes to adopting. Of course, puppies are visually very appealing, but puppies also need a lot of patience, time and energy to help them become sociable and well-behaved family pets. Not only can older dogs (generally considered to be those aged seven and above) be just as cute and lovable as puppies, they also often have wonderful qualities that puppies take years to grow into.
The majority of older dogs at Mayhew are handed to us because of a bereavement or lifestyle change such as a relationship breakdown, a house move or a new baby in the family. They are often ready (and very eager!) to slot straight into life in their new home. A few arrive as abandonment cases and sometimes have experienced a bad start in life, which could be from mistreatment or due to inappropriate care and training. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t become a loving and much-loved companion; just that they may need a little extra time and patience to adjust to new circumstances.
You also shouldn’t discount a dog who is approaching senior age out of fear their time with you could be fleeting: even an eight-year-old dog likely has many more good years left and will need a committed owner. Although you may still face challenges when settling in your older dog, you will have chosen an animal with a fully-formed personality, which helps ensure you’re a perfect match! Importantly, rehoming an older dog is also a great way to take a stand against the pet overpopulation crisis.
Adult dogs can make wonderful companions. They tend to be calmer and more relaxed than younger pups, often with better-established routines and personalities. They will generally be less demanding – although still a full-time commitment! – and should have burned through all that excess puppy energy, making them ready to settle down.
In most cases, adult dogs will be fully house-trained and understand basic commands. Although some level of retraining may be necessary as they adjust to their new surroundings, the initial hard groundwork has usually already been done.
Where some training is needed, it’s usually only a single training issue that requires addressing and should be easy to deal with, compared with a puppy where you have to start from scratch. As a result, adult dogs won’t make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young dogs do. They will also let you get a good night’s sleep, because they are accustomed to human schedules and won’t need night-time feeding or comforting.
Puppies can grow up to be quite different from how they seemed at first. Older dogs have grown into their shape and have already formed a fantastic personality, allowing you to see exactly the type of responsibility you will be taking on.
Be open and honest when describing your lifestyle and living arrangements. A dog that enjoys a lot of exercise or attention will be unhappy if your lifestyle can’t accommodate their needs. It may take time for an adult to settle in and adapt to your way of life (and vice versa!), so it’s important to choose a dog whose personality and needs match yours.
Sweet and sensitive Bella Boo, an eight-year-old Shar Pei, arrived in our care earlier this year and was with us for 121 days, living with one of our foster carers before being adopted in October. Her new owner Andrew tells us, “Bella Boo is the perfect dog for us – she’s funny, loyal and loves her walks. We wanted to offer an older dog a forever home because we know that they appreciate routine, are calmer and, in Bella’s case, have excellent manners! She’s made our home all the happier with her wonderful, affectionate presence. All credit to her amazing foster parents who encouraged Bella to be the dog she’d always wanted to be.”
If you are ready to give a dog their forever home, meet our canine residents who are waiting for their very own happily-ever-afters.meet our dogs
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