The Benefits and Joys of Adopting an Older Dog

By Diana Colbert

When I first heard of Isla Animals, like most people, the first thing I had heard about them was that you could stop in and play with the puppies.  However, once I visited the shelter, I learned that there were a couple of “older” dogs there too.  I found them to be just as loving and funny to watch as the puppies and made a point to shower them with some extra love.  When I left the shelter, I visited the website for Isla Animals and found the history of the dogs that I met that day. It’s really awful to read about how cruel humans can be at times towards innocent and defenseless animals. But as I continued to look through the information on the site, I learned there is so much more to Isla Animals than just that one shelter.

I learned that they also foster dogs as well.  Sometimes the dogs just need to be fostered because when they are found when they are newborns, or not very healthy, etc., and just need someone to give them a little extra care until they can go to the shelter. Fostering also helps socialize them too, to make sure they are comfortable around people. I learned from Ceci, the adoptions coordinator, that they also have dogs that are older than 2 or 3 years old that are also available for adoption, but they stay with a foster family because as you can imagine it is a little stressful on them to be in the shelter with all the puppies running around!

Earlier in the month, I had volunteered to write articles for Isla Animals, so I decided to do a little research into the advantages of adopting an older dog and write an informative article on the topic. As I read up on it, I couldn’t help but notice the testimonials from people who were so happy they had skipped the puppy stage, and that is why I chose to title this article “The Benefits and Joys of Adopting an Older Dog”.

Before I start discussing some of these advantages, I want to clarify my definition of an “older” dog. For purposes of this article, I’m referring to any dog that wouldn’t fall into the category of “cute puppy”.  Even though most veterinarians agree that the senior stage for a dog starts around 7 years old, I would argue that for many dogs, especially the smaller breeds, they haven’t even hit their prime by age 7. Even so, many people looking to adopt may assume there’s something wrong with a dog if it isn’t a puppy or find it less desirable than an adorable little puppy.  But I think most people who have ever owned a dog would probably agree that at age 7 or 8 their dog still didn’t act like they were ready for a senior facility, and I would like to submit not only that an older dog could be just as adorable as a puppy but also several reasons why adopting one could also make a lot more sense.  

According to Kyle Johansen in his article “7 Benefits of Adopting Older Dogs” on the

According to the article “Benefits of Adopting an Older Dog” on the website, an older dog can actually be a little easier to train.  So, forget the old saying and consider the work involved in training like heeling, holding a stay, not pulling on a leash, having appropriate social interactions with other dogs and other necessary skills when you’re working with an adolescent.

To quote an article on the Healthy Pets website, written in February 2012 entitled “Benefits of Adopting an Older Pet”, “Adult dogs can focus on the task at hand (unlike many of their much younger counterparts). If your adopted older pet needs to learn a few things in her new life with you, not to worry. Enroll her in an obedience class, contact a trainer, or go the do-it-yourself route. Older dogs are more attentive than puppies, and more eager to please their humans.”

Older dogs may need specific adjustments in your home, Porch has excellent suggestions on how to prepare your home for a senior dog.

Another reason, and maybe the best of all, is that you can make a difference in a dog’s life.  Usually, an older dog is in a shelter through no fault of their own, it was just the way their cards played out. Perhaps they had an abusive previous owner, or they were a stray for a while, or perhaps they just became an “inconvenience” in the eyes of their owner. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s unbelievable how cruel humans can be to a defenseless animal. But as anyone who has ever had a dog before knows, dogs wrote the book on unconditional love.  You have the power to make all the difference in their lives by taking them in and giving them love, care, warmth, shelter, security, all the things that come with having a forever home. Whatever their story, older dogs are just as ready to accept love and cuddles as a puppy and are just as deserving. And sometimes they can even be a better match. I can’t think of many things that can feel more rewarding than ensuring an older dog gets a second chance at a loving home.

Diana Colbert lives near Pittsburgh PA Married with twins (son and daughter) who are 21 years old and still love to travel with their parents. She and her family have owned dogs and/or cats for most of their lives. She works in financial services and would love to live in Mexico someday.

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