Adopting An Older Dog

Rescue centres have all kinds of dogs looking for a new home, you can find so many different breeds, shapes, sizes and dogs looking for homes with different needs to consider.

We’ve been lucky enough to get an insight into a brand new dog book, Living With An Older Dog – Gentle Dog Care offering you advice if you are looking to adopt an older dog.

There are also dogs of all ages currently in rescues looking for new homes, our sister site will testify to that! The staff at the shelter should be able to help you find an older dog that will settle well with you. Someone from the centre will usually want to visit you at home first to get an idea of your lifestyle, and also to make sure the environment is suitable. Dogs that will settle most readily are likely to be those who have lived previously with just one owner. As already mentioned, there may be a variety of reasons why owners can no longer look after their pet, which do not reflect in any way on the dog itself. On the other hand, there will be some dogs that are noisy, destructive or even aggressive, and their owners may have felt unable to cope.

Try to ascertain as much as you can about an older dog’s background if possible. This is particularly significant if you are looking for a family pet, because an older dog that is unused to children could become nervous in their company and may react aggressively if frightened. It is always a good idea to arrange to take a potential dog for a walk if possible, rather than simply looking at him in the kennels. This will give you a valuable insight into his behaviour, enabling you to discover whether he responds to basic commands, and if he is accustomed to walking on a lead. You will also get a much better idea of his personality, and how he reacts to you. This can be especially critical in the case of a dog that has been badly treated. He may not take to you readily, because something about you – perhaps even your coat or voice – reminds him of his previous owner. Clearly, if you do not bond, there could be problems in the future.

Introducing an older dog to the home is rather similar to having a puppy, although you will not necessarily be faced with the problem of house-training. If this is required, however, take the dog out early in the morning, during the day, and again in the evening, when he is most likely to want to relieve himself, and then praise him when he performs, just as you would a puppy.

Some older male dogs may seek to scent mark with urine in the home. Clean this up thoroughly, but avoid using household disinfectants, since some of these will attract the dog to soil the same site again. It’s much better to use special disinfectant and de-scenting products available from pet stores. However, the best long-term solution to this problem is to arrange neutering without delay, if it has not already been done.

Older dogs are often just as likely as puppies to scratch around the home, especially at the outset; therefore, try to avoid leaving your dog on his own with the door shut, otherwise you may find the carpet damaged, especially near the door where he has been trying to get out in your absence. Even linoleum tiles may not be sufficiently resistant to prevent damage by a dog’s claws, and neither is woodwork immune.

Living With An Older Dog – Gentle Dog Care is published by Hubble & Hattie.