How to Pick the Right Age Dog for Your Lifestyle

January 7, 2014

By Laurie Darroch

Breed is not the only thing you should consider when deciding to adopt a dog. The age of the dog you choose is also an important factor. You want a dog that fits your location, energy level, patience level and lifestyle. What things should be considered in the choice?

Puppies are adorable and seem like a wonderful choice, but they take constant supervision, consistent and regular training, and positive behavior reinforcement. They are not the right choice for everyone who is considering making a new fur baby part of their lives.

Take into consideration the fact that training is around the clock. Teaching a puppy to potty train, for instance, involves constant monitoring, reinforcement of good and bad behavior, and the almost certain possibility of accidents happening. Think of a puppy as a child without a diaper. They go when they need to, wherever they need to. Their control is not the same as an older, trained dog whose digestive functions have matured. Potty training a puppy may mean multiple night trips outside, even in the winter or rain. Like a human baby, you are at the beck and call of their needs, not yours.

Feeding is more of a challenge with a puppy. They are constantly ravenous. Their higher metabolisms burn through the energy their food provides more quickly than an older dog. They may require multiple smaller feedings each day. That means more attention to feeding schedules more often, every day. It takes time to adjust to a feeding schedule.

Puppies are also curious chewers. If you don’t have the patience to deal with the relentless curiosity of an exuberant puppy, and you have treasured possessions they might find intriguing as a possible chew toy, an adorable puppy still learning how to behave may not be the right aged dog for you.

Training a puppy can be fun and rewarding when a new skill is achieved, but it is exhausting, time consuming and very repetitive. Even with consistent training, some puppies learn skills more quickly than others. They are individuals, after all.

Puppies have high energy. They need exercise and a release for the bursts of boundless energy. Very young puppies tend to sleep more, but they outgrow that initial cute little bundle of sleepy fur ball phase pretty quickly. Then they are into everything that looks or smells like it might be edible, chewable or worth investigating. You have to puppy proof your home the same way you childproof a home for your human babies.

A slightly older dog who has already learned the basics in training, such as being house broken and knowing simple commands like sit, down, stay, or even understanding that the word “no” has significance, may be easier to deal with, and a better choice for a person or family who doesn’t want to deal with the high levels of time and patience needed with a young puppy. You may miss out on the cute earlier phases of puppyhood, but that may be a plus too if they aren’t something you have the time and patience to handle. They will still have high amounts of energy that requires equal energy from you, but they may be calmer than a young puppy.

A fully grown dog will most likely already be trained, know how to make their needs known in a productive way, be calmer and adjusted to things like feeding schedules and proper behavior.

No matter the age, dogs continue to learn, especially when loved, praised and motivated, but every age of dog comes with pros and cons. Those need to be considered when choosing the right age of dog for your lifestyle, location and your particular family mechanics. Also take into consideration if it is just you and your dog, or if there are other family members to help.

Don’t be afraid that an older dog might not bond with you as closely as a puppy would. Older dogs respond to love and affection. They need to feel like they belong, just like a puppy does, but an older dog has the added benefit of already being past the hyper puppy and high demand puppy phase.

Be realistic and a responsible pet owner when you choose the age of the dog you are adopting. Consider your living situation, patience level, time and energy capabilities in order to choose wisely and ensure a proper family fit.

Top photo by AJU Photography
Bottom photo by Darcy Case

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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