This question comes up when either a pet has died or people wish to add another dog to the household. There are some very important things to consider when making that decision.
Puppies: Pros and Cons
Puppy Pro Reasons
The obvious reason people buy puppies is that they are cute! Some people also believe that if they buy a puppy, they bond better, faster or different than with an adult. There is also the thought that you can “turn” them into what you want since you have control over how they are raised from 8-12 weeks.
If you have another dog already in the household, some older dogs will do better with a puppy than an adult. On the other hand, some older dogs think a puppy is a threat to the time they have with the family.
Puppy Con Reasons
Whether it has been one year or 10 years, we all forgot what puppies are really like. Similar to what many of my clients have said about the pain of childbirth. As soon as the baby is born, they forgot about the pain of labour and delivery.
There is house breaking, the ever present destructive phase, with some breeds that lasting 8 months or longer. Then the time it takes to leash train, hopefully go to obedience class and even more hopeful, walks and play time. This of course is all between work, house cleaning, laundry, and errands. Not including if you are married and have kids on two legs that have endless needs of being taken to sports practice, band practice, the doctor, etc.
Adult Dogs: Pros and Cons
Adult Pro Reasons
The obvious reason people get adults from rescue groups or shelters is that they are saving a life and giving a wonderful dog another chance. That usually takes a different type of person than the one who walks into that same shelter and picks out a puppy.
I am going to use the word “usual” since it is usually the case. There are however many dogs that are given up for problem behaviour. This is mostly due to the people who had them not willing to take the time when they were puppies to train them properly.
They are usually already housebroken, have usually finished the destructive phase, generally over the hyper phase and adjust very quickly and very well with other family pet members. They have also usually experienced grooming so it is not and Act of God to have it done. Generally they know how to obey commands like sit, stay, come. You do not have to worry about your year old baby yanking on the dogs tail and the dog promptly ripping the kids face off. Most, but not all places know if an adult dog is familiar with children. They tend to be much more obedient and willing to please. They are so grateful to have a home and do not want to go through the trauma of being uprooted, they will over-please
Adult Con Reasons
I cannot think of a con reason for myself. However, going back to the first puppy reason, people think that they might bond differently with an adult than with a puppy. They might have bad habits that could take a bit longer to break. You need to be careful and find out as much as you can about an older dog. Does it get along with other dogs, cats? How is it around kids, men, and women?
Things to Consider
If you have another older dog in the household, note your dog’s behaviour around other dogs. If you are out for a walk, is your dog aggressive towards adults and fine with puppies or vice versa. Better yet, does your dog even care?
Think first about the current dog if you have one in the household. What will make them happiest? Second is to think about what you, the human wants. If you want a puppy and your present dog, if applicable, wants to eat it for a snack that would be a good indication it is not a good match.
- Do you have friends that come over with a pet?
- How does your dog react to that visitor?
If you are gone from the house 10-14 hours a day, is a puppy really the best option? They are not that much different than a human baby who needs and demands a great deal of attention. Just as a human child, they only learn right from wrong by what we teach them.
Even if you decide on an adult, they need about a month to adjust. You cannot just toss an older dog into a household and go about your daily routine. You need to spend time with them, give them a feeling of security and learn about the quirks they might have.
In over 30 years working with animals, I have never met one that was not smart. I have also heard every reason known to man and cannot count the times I have been told, “we can’t live with this dog anymore, take it”. If you have a dog that pees all over the house, (eliminating medical issues), jumps up on people, (of which I am guilty of letting mine do), bites, nips, destroys things, runs through the house like a wild animal, hence is always locked outside and never allowed in the house, I never blame the dog.
I will always set blame where it belongs and that is the caretaker of that pet.
If you cannot take the time to train and teach your pet proper family interaction behaviour and give them the attention they deserve and need, simply get a fish.
The most important thing to remember whether you opt for a puppy or an adult, it is a lifetime commitment. They are not pieces of furniture to be thrown out when you get bored, tired of the work required or just no longer convenient to your lifestyle. They are living, breathing, thinking beings that have emotions just as humans do. They deserve to be treated with respect and as you would like to be treated.
I cannot stress the following enough…