Choosing between a puppy and an adult dog can be difficult. You are guaranteed some trying moments if you welcome a puppy into your life, but owning a dog in general requires a lot of time and love, and not just a little patience on occasion. Here are some guidelines to help you choose between an adult dog and a puppy.
First, ask yourself why you're in this position. Many people have a hard time deciding between puppy and adult dog, but some of these people are indecisive because they feel that they don't have enough time to devote to a puppy. They think that an adult dog will be fine with far less attention and therefore could be a better fit in their life. If this resembles your thought process, then you must face the possibility that you aren't in a position to care for any dog, young or more mature. Dogs of any age deserve lots of time and attention; they require love and affection in order to be happy. If you're thinking of buying an adult dog because you're gone all the time and think a puppy won't be happy in that situation, then you're absolutely right about the puppy. But the same is true for the adult dog.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's look at the pros and cons of adding a puppy to your family.
- Raising a puppy is a lot like raising a baby (except obviously the puppy will become an adult much faster). You'll experience similar joy watching the puppy mature, learn and express curiosity and wonderment. And your puppy will develop a fast, loving bond with you from day one.
- But dogs don't wear diapers, and you're bound to encounter accidents before the puppy is housebroken. Taking them out frequently can help to avoid accidents inside the house.
- Puppies need to be fed about 4 times daily.
- Puppies will chew on things as their teeth come in (a process called "teething" - you may have heard dismayed dog owners bemoaning this behavior).
- Puppies sometimes wake you up at night needing some affection. You can't turn them away! You have to be prepared to give them your attention and be patient as they grow accustomed to your daily routine.
That should give you a bit of an idea for the joys and challenges of raising a puppy. Raising an adult dog is a pleasure as well. Many people don't feel the same way toward dogs that have already lived and spent early formative years with another owner. However, this reluctance to adopt older dogs deprives these perfectly lovable companions of a nurturing home, which isn't fair at all.
- The majority of dogs up for adoption are still in their teenage phase between the puppy period and mature adulthood. This means you'll escape the worst of the chewing (teething ends before the end of the puppy's first year), housetraining and wakeful nights.
- Senior dogs can also be adopted. Dog owners know that some of a dog's most tender and placid years are often those later in life. Senior dogs can make excellent companions for senior citizens, providing the affection and devotion of a dog without the sometimes-hyperactive tendencies of a puppy.
- Ask about the dog's life experience. If the adult dog has been abused or grossly neglected, it may not be wise to adopt that dog into a family with small children. Unfortunately, abused dogs can become skittish and defensive around children, resulting in some negative situations. However, the majority of adult dogs up for adoption were not abused, but are simply a casualty of the misjudgment of people who didn't realize that they weren't prepared to properly care for a dog.
- For more on adopting dogs, consult our article, "How To Adopt a Dog."
Whether you choose a puppy or an adult, you'll experience the rare, unconditional love of a dog. As long as you recognize that your dog deserves a responsible, loving and generous family, the experience will be rewarding for both you and your dog.