Adopting A Senior Dog

rescue dog south florida dog socializationRescuing an older dog for your family can be a wonderful experience for all involved. Before you make any decision, you should weigh the issues to make sure that you are doing the right thing.

We would like to offer some suggestions to help you determine if an older dog is right for you:

  • FAMILY DYNAMICS. Older dogs normally do not have as much energy as younger dogs and puppies.  Because of this, they become tired and just don’t want to actively play all the time.   If you have young children in your home, they may want the dog to play with them more than he wishes.  This could lead to nips and growls.
  • FAMILY ACTIVITIES.
    • If do a great deal of traveling and plan to take your dog with you, a Senior Dog might not be the right choice. Any sort of traveling (even for us) takes a good amount of energy.  An older dog just might not be up to the challenge.
    • When you rescue an older dog, the one thing that they really crave is a consistent, social environment. If you spend long hours away from home at work, you are minimizing the time you can build the needed bond of safety and security with him.  If this is the case, you should reconsider your decision.
    • Many people like to ride their bikes or jog with their dogs. Older dogs just aren’t up to the challenge.  Understand this when you are picking a Senior Dog.
  • THE HOME. It might not be a good idea of you are rescuing a larger Senior Dog if you live in a high rise apartment or condo and need to travel up and down the elevator to get outside.  The reason is very simple.  When a larger, older dog needs to go to the bathroom, it takes a good deal longer to go down the hall, wait for the elevator, take the elevator ride, get through the lobby, and finally get outdoors to their potty spot.  It is much harder for them not to make an accident on the way.  If you have rescued a smaller, Senior Dog, you could train them to go on potty pads and have no problem.
  • MULTIPLE DOGS. If you already have dogs in your family, a “canine pack” has already been established.  If the older dog is a “loner” (to be discussed a little later) and your canine pack is more active, this could cause a conflict.  If your older dog is an “leader” (“Alpha”, to be discussed a little later), this could create a power struggle within your established pack.

These should just be some “thought starters” when you are deciding if a Senior Dog is right for you.  Next, let’s look at some tips on picking the Senior Dog and introducing him into your life:

  • GOING TO THE RESCUE GROUP/HUMANE SOCIETY. I am a strong believer in “people don’t pick their dogs, the dog picks us”.  Start going to the Humane Society and just stroll up and down the cages.  Which dog perks his head up when you walk by?  Does he come to you when you call?  When you look into the cage, do you naturally focus on him even though he might not be the one right in front?  If you have other dogs at home, bring them to the shelter and introduce them with leashes in a neutral area to make sure that everyone will get along.
  • THE VETERINARIAN. After you rescue your dog, take him to your Veterinarian to make sure he has his proper shots and is in good health.  You might also think about having a micro chip installed in case he gets out.
  • THE HOME: Before you bring him home, check your back yard to make sure there are no places he can get out.  Initially, he won’t understand that this is his new home and he might try to escape.  Go through your house and pick up breakable items up to a level where his “jumping paws” can reach.  Make sure that you no longer leave food in that area also.
  • COMING HOME. When you get him home, reintroduce him with your dogs in the front yard on leashes.  Walk him around the front and back yards, allowing him to sniff and potty.  Bring him inside the house on a leash and allow him to walk around.  If he starts to jump, give the leash a slight tug and guide him to you.  Feed him from his bowl in the kitchen.  Feed him separately from your other dogs until you are sure there are no “food aggression-protection” issues.  Slowly allow him more freedom around the house over the next several weeks.
  • INTERACTIONS. Be sure to include him in as many of your family activities as possible.  Experiment to see what games he likes to play.  Show your leadership by teaching him to “Sit” and “Come”.  If you have other dogs, do not show him favoritism, but demonstrate inclusion for all your dogs.
  • MEETING FRIENDS AND GUESTS. Always have him on a leash when he meets anyone new for the first time.  Since we don’t know his past, we have no idea if he was beaten by a man wearing a red shirt.  If Uncle Bob comes over with a red shirt, we don’t want an inappropriate situation to occur.  If you have him on a leash, you are always in control and can direct and comfort him (your new dog, not Uncle Bob) that he is OK and you are keeping him safe.

Senior Dogs are the greatest and we heartily encourage you to consider them when you want to bring a new dog into your family or add a dog to your pack.  For more information, please call us at (954) 424-0170 or reach us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.  We have also created a Web Page with a long list of Rescue Groups at Great Dog Rescue Groups in South Florida.