Oftentimes, senior dogs are the last to get adopted in shelters, leading them to be at a higher risk of euthanization. Adopting a senior dog is a great thing, contrary to popular belief. You might be wondering why. Senior dogs typically are easier to care for as they’re already trained and know how to behave. They will appreciate having a warm and loving home and warm up to you when you give them the attention and care they need. Not to mention, they can learn new tricks! One common misconception is that old dogs can’t learn tricks, and that’s simply untrue. Dogs can be trained at any age. When you’re thinking of adopting an older dog, here is what you should keep in mind:
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Typically, adult dog adoptions go smoothly, but there are times when they don’t. There are serious benefits to adopting a dog that is already housetrained and past the puppy chewing stage, but all the same, they can take time to adapt to a new environment. You’re going to need a lot of patience if you want to change old habits or correct any negative behaviors. The way to go about this is acting as if your newly adopted dog is not housetrained. Maybe they belonged to someone who wasn’t strict about housetraining or didn’t bother? Whatever the previous situation might have been, now it’s up to you to train your dog the way you want to.
Treat Them Like a Puppy
When training a senior dog, it’s best to act as if you’re training a puppy. It will require the same amount of patience, only a little more time. Make sure to puppy-proof your house and create a safe environment for your dog. Implement a training program that will set them up for success by using an “every hour on the hour” puppy housetraining protocol. By putting away any objects that could potentially become an unwanted chew toy, you’re setting up your dog to succeed by not allowing them to be reinforced for unwanted behaviors in their new home. This, in turn, will help them learn new rules and appropriate new behaviors faster.
Take Things Slow
Proactive management will help you and your new pup get off on the right foot, but when it comes to actual training, it’s smart to take things slow unless your dog makes it clear they’re ready for a quick method. Give your dog a quiet spot to settle into for a few days. It can be anywhere, so long as the spot allows them to hear and see whatever is happening in the house so they get used to it. Make sure you’ll be home for this so you can keep an eye on them at first. You can’t know if they’ll be afraid alone in the room or if they’re comfortable in a crate. Slowly integrate them with other dogs you might have. Again, the way this goes depends on your senior dog’s past and whether they’ve lived with other pets before. Another thing you need to understand is that your new dog might be mourning the loss of its previous owners. They’ll need time to bond with their new family and settle into a new environment.
Be Considerate of Physical Needs
As you’ve probably guessed, senior dogs can have mobility issues that impact their daily routine. Past injuries or age-related problems can change everything. Even navigating the house can be affected by such things. Make sure the food and water bowls, along with anything else they might need, are easily accessible if you adopted a dog with mobility issues.