Adopting an Older Dog

Adopting an Older Dog
What to consider when adopting an adult or senior dog


There’s no mistaking it, puppies are adorable and many grow up to become magnificent companions. Unfortunately pet owners often forget the trouble involved with raising a pet from infancy, and overlook the countless mature dogs awaiting adoption from shelters and rescue organizations.

“Consider adopting an older pet if you want to skip the house-training and want an animal that may already be obedience trained,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical Associate Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM). “Another benefit with older pets is that their personality is set when you meet them, and any health issues or special care needs may already be evident.”

Within the first week of bringing home an older pet, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to identify any health concerns and to update vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite prevention.

“When selecting a pet to bring home make sure their behavior and activity level will fit into your lifestyle, which is much easier to determine when you meet an older pet,” said Stickney. “For example, a pet that is calm and relaxed for a smaller house versus super-active pets that need room to move around and a large yard. You should also have it meet all of the family to make sure the pet will get along with the children, males, and females living in your home.”

It is also important to ask the shelter or rescue organization about any known health or behavior issues, or if the pet has been around other pets before or not.

Preparing your home for an older pet is not that much different than a younger one, with a few exceptions that many find easier. “When bringing home any pet, it is important to have things such as the appropriate food, bedding, bowls, and the appropriate toys like chew objects for dogs or a scratching tree for cats,” said Stickney. “It is also essential to have a carpet cleaner around for a few accidents until the pet understands your house’s routine, and to make sure your yard is fenced with no breaks where the pet could escape and get lost. If your pet has arthritis and has trouble moving and jumping, you may need a ramp to help it maneuver steps.”

Older pets can also be easier to train because they do not get distracted as easily as puppies. However, if they have already learned certain commands you will need to stick with the same command words and gestures instead of trying to use new commands for the same trick.

To view adoption services and to adopt an older pet of your own, check out services such as or visit the local Aggieland Humane Society.

Add a comment

Comments (1)

I adopted an 11 year old dog from rescue 2 years ago. Now 13, he seems younger than when he first came to me. He had allergy issues which are now cleared up with great food. He is best friends with 2 rescue cats and they keep eachother active. He likes short walks and loves car rides, same as any other dog. I certainly recommend adopting seniors - they are already trained, usually well socialized and street smart. I am very fortunate that my dog has not shown any senior ailments yet but when he does, we will do everything we can to keep him in good health and painfree. They are so grateful to be loved and cherished and will show you this every day. His name is Jasper.
Wed, 08/21/2013 - 12:12

Dog of the Week!

Meet: Stanley