Senior Dogs and Kids

A little girl hugging a yellow senior dog on the ground

Getting a dog is a serious undertaking.  If you have children, it can be even harder because kids tend to gravitate to puppies.  However, having a puppy is about the same amount of work as having a toddler.  You have to potty train them, feed and water them, keep them from getting into anything harmful, and make sure they do not chew on your stuff instead of their toys.

A better option is to adopt an older dog.  Most older dogs are house trained and have grown out of chewing on everything within their reach.  Many older dogs have been crate trained, so you have a safe place to put them when you cannot watch them.  Older dogs may not need a crate at all.  A soft bed by your bed may be immediately accepted as their place to rest.

In addition, many older dogs have some obedience training.  They will often sit on command or walk with you on a loose leash when you are walking them.  This is much more pleasant than being pulled down the street by your dog.  Taking a refresher obedience class is a great way to bond with an older dog.

Older dogs like routines.  Establishing a schedule for your dog so he knows what happens when goes a long way toward making the dog fit in and feel comfortable in your home.

Another benefit of adopting an older dog is that you know what you are getting.  Puppies can grow to unexpected heights but an older dog has stopped growing.  You can also tell whether the dog has the temperament to play safely with your kids.  If the older dog does not seem comfortable with children, it is safer to choose another dog than take the short tempered dog home.

Older dogs can be especially tolerant with children.  They will allow the child to dress them, have tea parties with them, and generally let children do anything that does not cause the dog pain.

An older dog is more adaptable than a puppy.  He is also easier to handle without all the care a puppy needs.  You can teach older dogs new tricks.  In fact, working with the dog to learn tricks will help you cement your bond with the dog.  Teaching your children the commands will let them play with the dog and get him to do tricks even when you are not there.

Any dog will teach your child responsibility, but older dogs do this with an ease not seen in puppies.  Older dogs will come get the child when it is time for their walk or a meal.  Puppies may be just as ready for the walk or food, but they will not know how to tell you about that.

An older dog will probably have a shorter lifespan than a puppy.  That can be attractive to parents that do not want to get stuck with their children’s dog while the child is at college.

In short, older dogs may be safer and more pleasant to be around.  You may find that they provide the same companionship as puppies without many of the puppies’ disadvantages.


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