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The Joys of Senior Dog Ownership

Senior dog with gray snout and eyes

There are tens of thousands of senior dogs in shelters across the U.S. and around the world, with many of them being euthanized after languishing for months and even years without being adopted. Most people looking for a family pet or companion animal come looking for a puppy or a young dog that they can make their own. These people are passing up senior dogs because they fear that older dogs will be difficult to train or that an older dog will be expensive and die too soon. They are missing out on the special devotion and love of a senior dog and passing up the opportunity to give a senior dog comfort and peace in his last days. Let’s dispel some of the senior dog myths right now.

“You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”

This is one of the oldest misconceptions about bringing home a dog in his twilight years. Despite moving a bit slower and having difficulty hearing, an older dog actually has a longer attention span and is eager to please humans. Their response to instruction will be better and they’ll be thrilled with any attention you give them.

Most older dogs have been surrendered to shelters because their master passed away or had to move. They are generally well-trained and completely housebroken. Instead of having to take your puppy outside every half hour in order to housebreak him, you can sit back and let your senior dog let you know when he or she needs to go out.

“Senior Dogs are Inconvenient & Difficult to Care For”

While puppies will go through a phase when they chew up your shoes, your clothes and anything else he can get his teeth on, a senior dog is long past that developmental stage. Senior dogs will also respond to most of the basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “down.”

You’ll find that most older dogs are actually quite easy to care for. A soft bed, good food and a few short walks a day are all they will need to be happy. Belly rubs and some scratching behind the ears will be all they need to settle in with your family and relax. You may need to pay for more vet visits and medications as your senior dog ages, but that is only natural for any pet. Even if you adopt a puppy now, you’ll need to pay for care and medication in his senior years eventually. An up side for working pet parents – older dogs tend to sleep more and more relaxed being at home alone for a stretch of time without becoming bored or destructive. You can find out a lot more about the joys of owning a senior dog at the Senior Dogs Project, including this list of Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog.

And of course, a senior dog will be so grateful to be taken out of the shelter and into your home, away from the chaos and noise of the shelter environment. If you opt for a senior dog as a family pet, you won’t regret it. Falling asleep each night knowing that you’ve given a lonely, senior dog his last chance to be loved and cared for in his twilight years will be more than enough reward!


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