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What You Need to Know Before Adopting an Older Dog

Newer doesn't always mean better.

Adopting an older dog may be a decision based on you oryour family's lifestyle. In fact, many senior citizens opt forthis choice because a new, hyperactive and untrained puppymay be too much excitement and work to handle.

Sometimes, an older dog has its advantages. It may be moresettled, already house trained, leash trained, and maybeeven spayed or neutered.

With this important decision, however, there are some vitalpoints that you should keep in mind. When adopting anolder dog, there is a lot to consider, no matter where you getyour dog from- a kennel, a rescue center or a friend.

The first thing to research beforehand is the dog's history.Find out if the dog was a stray or where he was found. Beinga stray isn't necessarily bad, but it may mean that you haveto do some training. And, don't believe the myth thatteaching an old dog a new trick is impossible. An older dogmay be calmer, allowing you to concentrate your efforts onspecific training methods.

Obedience school may be an option. Some older dogs mayhave been kept outside, so you may have to train it for livingindoors, or vice versa. Although this will take time andenergy, eventually your dog, no matter its age, will learn. Atfirst, out of nervous habit, the dog might use the bathroomanywhere- especially if you are gone. Give the dog time toget used to his new home? it's a big change for him too. Beoptimistic. He'll adjust. Overall, training a puppy is harderas they are distracted more easily.

During the initial background check, find out if the dog wasabused. Just because the dog is shy in a cage or shelter,doesn't mean he was abused or will act shy once he is withyou. If the dog was abused, however, he may be overlyaggressive towards you or your children. Ask how the dogreacts to the human contact he receives presently. If it's afriend's or family member's dog, all of this may be a loteasier to find out.

Next, find out the reason why the older dog is now up foradoption. It makes a difference only if the dog has a violentbackground. It also makes a difference whether the violencewas rooted in the dog's situation (i.e. taunting, hurtfulchildren) or if the dog simply possesses an aggressivedominance over its environment. If you find that the dogwas aggressive towards its previous owner, and that itwasn't the dog's temperament, you will really have to thinkabout it.

If your dog is going to be around children, it's extremelyimportant that you know ahead of time how your doghandles these little people. Find out what you can from theprevious owner or care giver. Some dogs may have beenmistreated by children in the past. These dogs tend to beoverly aggressive towards children at first so please take thatinto consideration. Though it can generally be correctedover time and with proper training, your first responsibilityis to protect the child's safety.

Please remember that most dogs in shelters or rescue clinicsare there innocently. They could have been a product of adivorce, death, separated family, or a number of othercircumstances. Most of these dogs have no behavioralproblems and you will get along together great. The averageage of a dog that you'll find at an animal shelter is betweensix months and one year old, that being their time ofadolescence.

Finally, while most shelters ensure that their dogs are onehundred percent healthy, you will take your dog to the vet toget a check-up. This cost will likely be included in anyadoption fees you pay. Insist that you take the dog to yourpreferred vet, and that the shelter or clinic will pay. If thedog is not spayed or neutered, then the shelter canrecommend a vet and either fully reimburse the cost, or giveyou a coupon worth at least a fifty-percent reduction.

About the Author:
Tina Spriggs is an expert dog lover whose lifelong interest in canines provides the motivation for her site. To learn more about dogs or to find gifts and toys for them visit her site at Dog Gifts and Toys for Dog Lovers.

Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

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