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Animals, Life

5 reasons why senior dogs rule

Animals, Life

5 reasons why senior dogs rule

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Darcy Matheson Nov 14, 2016 10:42 am 913

After adopting an eight-week-old rescue puppy in my early 20s, I was rewarded by many frustrating months of struggling with house training, coupled with ruined shoes and a shocking amount of apartment destruction. Did you know that dogs can actually eat baseboards? Anyways, I vowed if I ever got a dog again I would not get a brand-new puppy, and opt for a more mature canine instead. 

Adult dogs have a lot of advantages over their younger counterparts. So in honour of Adopt A Senior Pet month, here’s a look at five reasons why senior dogs rock.

And before we start, please don’t get hung up on the label of senior. Dogs are considered seniors at about the age of six or seven — sometimes even as young as five — which is actually very young. Many small breeds can stay energetic well into their teens. 

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

Adult dogs have a lot of advantages over their younger counterparts. So in honour of Adopt A Senior Pet month, here’s a look at five reasons why senior dogs rock. 

And before we start, please don’t get hung up on the label of senior. Dogs are considered seniors at about the age of six or seven — sometimes even as young as five — which is actually very young. Many small breeds can stay energetic well into their teens. 

They know the basics

 

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

If you’re taking in a senior animal, the odds are strong it has lived in a home setting before and knows the ropes. For the most part, they are housetrained and understand basic commands. Some may have already gone through puppy classes and more extensive training — so you can skip all those hours and hours of work. An adult dog is past its teething stage that leaves your shoes and home chewed to pieces. 

It is absolutely a misconception that adult and senior dogs are harder to train, and can’t learn new tricks. Many dogs just haven’t been given the opportunity to showcase their talents, likely because their former owner didn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to do it. Work with a positivity-based trainer in your area to help “untap” your senior dog’s hidden potential. You’ll find that kind words — and a lot of treats — make a huge difference!

They have established personalities

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

Second, adult and senior dogs already have established personalities — so you know what you’re getting. If you’re adopting from an SPCA shelter or rescue organization, they should have a good sense of what that dog is like, including their energy level, how they will get along with other dogs, cats, children and whether it will treat your home as a chew toy — or if it has a strong prey drive. Those factors are all real unknowns when dogs are puppies.

They are low(er) maintenance

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

Don’t feel like going jogging every night or walking for hours on end to tire out a hyper animal that has no end of energy? No problem. While a senior animal still requires and thrives on regular walks, hikes, and trips to the park, the exercise requirement will likely be much less than a young pup.

One of the happiest adoptions I’ve written about was a woman on Vancouver Island who took in a 10-year-old blind Cocker spaniel, Joe, who much preferred riding in her bike basket than exerting himself with walking.

They are champion cuddlers

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

Senior dogs are also a lot more comfortable staying in and enjoying the simple joys of life, like snuggling on the couch while you’re watching TV, or laying at your feet while you’re puttering on the computer. A senior dog is always happy to greet you when you come home, and spend quality time with you. Pups in their golden years love snoozing on the couch and having a good sleep-in, so you likely won’t be up at the crack of dawn taking them out.

They are grateful

Senior dogs seem to have a great appreciation to their new owners. It’s something I hear time and time again when talking to people who have opened their home and hearts to taking in a senior canine. That the dog just seems to understand that a nice person has given them a second chance. Senior dogs are often overlooked in shelters in favour of younger dogs. So they need our help the most, especially in their golden years.

Full disclosure: Just like someone who has gone through a divorce or breakup, a shelter dog can suffer some emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Have an open dialogue with the shelter staff to find out what the dog is really like.  Shelters are often a very stressful setting for a dog — and sometimes it’s tough to see their true personality. Know that you may have some setbacks when you take in an older dog based on their previous life, but also know that the relationship is going to be so rewarding because you are saving the life of this amazing creature!

All the great pups in this article are from SAINTS, a sanctuary for old and unwanted animals in Mission, BC. Visit their website to check out their current adoptable pups. 

And if you’ve adopted an awesome senior dog, shoot me a message at [email protected] I’d love to feature you in an upcoming Rescue Me feature. 

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue

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Image courtesy SAINTS Rescue


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Darcy Matheson
Daily Hive's animal columnist, Darcy is a TV producer, pet blogger and author of "Greening Your Pet Care." She has two wee terriers, Murphy Brown and Seymour.

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