Pros and Cons of Older Dogs

Basically, if you can, do! It’s a fantastic feeling when you adopt a rescue dog in the knowledge that you’re making a huge difference to its quality of life. You might even be saving it's life. Furthermore, they will come house-trained, probably neutered, and with lots of social skills on board.

Laid-back older dogs are a great choice for older people wishing to own a calm, docile pet. They are also a good choice for busy families – as long as the dog gets to meet everyone first. Ask the owner, or shelter, if you can take him on a walk – you’ll soon get a clear picture of how he comfortable he is with a bustling family!


Mixed breed dog nose golden retriever old english sheepdog mix
An older dog from a happy home usually arrives house trained and with good social skills

The downsides are mainly to do with where the dog came from. If they’ve had a hard life up to this point, it may manifest in a general distrust of people. The dog will soon come to love you and rely on your emotional and physical support, but may remain wary of other people for the rest of its life. Some rescue dogs have a fear of men, for example, or of children.

In general, older dogs require less of your time and patience (something puppies demand lots of!), and are less likely to get under your feet. They can sometimes need a little longer to settle into their new home, especially if the dog was mistreated by its previous owners, but once you’ve built that bond of trust, nothing’s going to break it.


Dog walk golden labrador walking in woods
Old dogs, new tricks - an older dog , like this Golden Labrador Retriever, can still be trained

Can You Train an Older Dog?

Yes, it’s a myth that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks! They’re perfectly capable of learning, they catch on quickly, and many are more willing to learn – especially if they have a few tricks up their doggie sleeves already.

Dog House Training Problems

When it comes to toilet training, most older dogs that come your way will have been house trained already. If your new older dog does have problems in this area, there might be an underlying problem. Some males, for example, are very territorial, and that involves generous use of urine to mark the territory – a squirt here, a dribble there, on the furniture or any other regular object that just happens to be lying around. Neutered dogs seldom get into this habit, and persistent territory-markers can be trained out of their bad habits by being taken out several times a day for a pee, and by cleaning the mess indoors with a detergent or shop-bought product designed to discourage dogs from peeing in all the wrong places.

If the problem persists, consult a vet – it may be a medical issue. Sometimes a change in diet can be the cause. Again, keep taking the dog outside and look at the training your dog section elsewhere in this guide.

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