Think puppies are better and more fun? Most people do. But there are a ton of advantages to rescuing and caring for senior dogs, too. Some may even say that senior dogs are better than puppies!
Senior dogs might not have a spring on their step anymore when compared to young and energetic, always curious puppies. Sadly, primarily for that reason, many future adopters tend to overlook senior dogs at shelters and adoption centers in favor of the eager and enthusiastically cute younger dog. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary explains why old dogs aren't adopted as often and face a much greater chance of being euthanized.
But, people looking to bring home a new pet could be missing out by passing up on an aging canine companion. In recent years, more people began to realize the benefits of adopting a senior dog, and some – like this photographer – even promote the adoption of old dogs. So here are 12 good reasons why senior dogs could be better for your home than puppies, and why you should consider adopting one as your next pet.
1. Their exercise is snuggling with love
Puppies are oh-so-full of energy and they demand a lot of playtime from their owners. They are always excited about going for long walks too, regardless if it's raining outside or if the ground is knee-deep in snow. While exercise benefits their health or encourages you to work out as well, sometimes it's just too inconvenient and overwhelming, right? Old dogs, on the other hand, prefer to snuggle with their owners and exchange body heat than dispense their energy in physical activities. They slow down and love to relax more, which might be exactly what you need.
2. They sleep like a dream
Dogs love to sleep a lot but senior dogs love to sleep even longer. At times, they might only get up quietly for food or water, or to go potty, or to change their position near the window where the sun glows in the early mornings. Puppies, on the other hand, wake up when the sun isn't even out yet. They're so eager to get their day started and will usually bark or poke at their owners to get up, too.
3. Their understanding of humans is a real talent
Dogs supposedly have a sixth sense about people but senior dogs' perception is even sharper. They can read humans like a book. They can sense if their master is upset based on body language alone and they act on it, too. It's not surprising to find a senior dog who comforts his sad master by putting his head on the owner's lap. Most importantly, this isn't just some theory – science has proven that does do in fact read our emotions, and it's likely based on how long the dog has been around the owner or humans in general. Therefore, older dogs will be much better at this than young pups.
4. They have legitimate break times
It's hard to let puppies nap after they get tired from playing because every bit of activity around them sends them off. Every sound they hear or every movement they notice makes them get up from their nap and start the day anew as if they haven't played before. Senior dogs, on the other hand, can't be bothered by any of these things. They are so laid back that they embrace their naps as much as they embrace sleep, and have no regrets about oversleeping, really.
5. They manifest such gentle souls
Like a fine wine, senior dogs get better with age. Because of their mellowed energy levels and coupled with years of experience, senior dogs don't crave horseplay anymore. They have a gentle demeanor about them, hence they could live well among smaller children or senior citizens, too. In contrast, puppies have this overeager nature about them that could land them in trouble at times, and maybe even become annoying on occasion. They could accidentally hurt their humans if they play too rough as well.
6. They've lost the appeal for destruction
Cute puppies are actually chewing machines that can go through your personal stuff like free treats from a candy store. Destructive behavior is pretty common in young dogs because they are still learning and developing, hence puppy-proofing your home is a must. But senior dogs that have been housebroken no longer find any appeal for such behavior. So, your favorite pairs of shoes are safe around an older dog. You can also leave them alone at home for hours and not have to worry about returning with a worn-out couch, broken items, or garbage all over the place.
7. They can still learn new tricks
Forget the old saying about how useless it is to teach old dogs new tricks – it's a myth – because senior dogs can still be trained new commands and they're eager to learn. They won't be fast learners though, but their cognizance is still sharp, according to a study at the Messerli Research Institute in the University of Vienna (study). In fact, senior dogs have a lot more focus than pups, so learning new lessons won't be a problem and in some cases they may even be better at this.
8. Their obedience is second nature
Senior dogs are no longer ignorant about commands. They have been doing “sit” and “stay” for years that obedience is like second nature to them. Many shelter or rescue senior dogs don't require basic house training, too, once they get to their new homes. Surprisingly, a number of them are in fact housebroken. Puppies, on the other hand, still have to go through hours of training and struggles; they still have a lot to learn about becoming pets.
9. They saved you as much as you've saved them
You are saving a senior dog's life by adopting them from a shelter, and while this may be true, there's more to that as well. These senior dogs are also saving you (or at the very least, providing more fulfillment to your life) because how can you not fall in love with an obedient, patient and deep companion? What they lack in energy, they fill up with their endless love and devotion for someone who’s going to care for them in their remaining years.
10. They're the ultimate old faithfuls
Senior dogs seem to deeply know the meaning of companionship and loyalty. Whether they've lived with their humans for most of their lives or have been with them for just a few months, their dedication to their human companion is boundless. Many senior dog owners attest that they connect better than puppies, too. Rescued senior dogs have learned a very valuable lesson throughout their lives and have this special thing – they don't take their humans for granted.
11. They value family time
Senior dogs enjoy a big day on the couch by sitting comfortably still and observing family members walk by, maybe occasionally interacting with them. It always seems that they love the feel of a busy living room and take solace in the fact that they can watch mom read her book, dad cheer for a game on television, and the kids play with their gadgets. They simply love being around, spreading their energy. Puppies, on the other hand, want to be the center of attention when everyone in the family is around and often may get in the way.
12. They're just so Zen
Have you ever tried doing dog yoga (“Doga“) with an energetic pup? It's fair to say, you won't be able to get anything done right, or at all. But if you take a senior dog with you, it will be one of the most perfect yoga/Doga sessions you'll have because aging dogs are so calm, relaxed and chill; they're so Zen. Their stable temperament should be emulated, and in fact it is much easier to be calmer and find peace yourself when you have a senior dog by your side.
Senior dogs don’t expect much from their owners except to have a good home where they can live the rest of their lives in comfort, contentment, and peace. A crowded shelter is not a place for them. So, if you can, do bring home a senior dog from an animal shelter instead of adopting a young puppy – it will be one of the best decisions you've made.