Adopting an Adult Dog: Pros/Cons, Challenges & What to Expect

Image of an adult brown labrador dog
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Are you looking at getting a new dog? There are many different places you can get a dog, whether that be purchasing a dog or adopting.

If you’re thinking of adopting an adult dog, there are several pros and cons to consider.

Just as there are many things that you need to be ready for when getting a puppy, this article takes a look at the benefits and possible setbacks that you may face when adopting an adult dog and what to be ready for if you get a puppy.

What are the Pros and Cons of Adopting an Adult Dog vs. Getting A Puppy?

Image of an adult dog running on the left and a puppy on right to compare whether adopting an adult dog or getting a puppy is right for you

There are many different ages that you can adopt an adult dog. These are common age ranges that you may look for when adopting a new dog:

  • Young adult stage (1 to 3 years of age)
  • Mature adult stage (3 to 7 years)
  • Senior dog stage (over 7 years)

Each stage has a different set of pros and cons that you need to consider just as there are many pros and cons of purchasing a puppy.

Adopting a Young Adult Dog: 1 to 3 Years Old

Image of dog owners petting their newly adopted young adult golden retriever dog

The younger the dog you adopt, the more training you will need to do, but the less the bad behaviors that they will have learned.

Dogs over a year of age have usually learned a few tricks and have developed a few good behaviors. Most of these dogs have learned that good behavior usually gets them a reward. These dogs can also go on more strenuous exercise that puppies should not engage in due to their developing bone and joints.

Young adult dogs are still full of energy and love to go for a hike, jog, or long walk.

Young adult dogs may have developed some bad habits that you will have to deal with. Commonly these dogs may get things off the counter, bite or urinate in inappropriate places. These dogs may also try to push their boundaries and try to get away with things. During this time, you will have to be a stern leader to correct some of these bad behaviors and get their training back on the right track.

Adopting a Mature Adult Dog: 3 to 7 Years Old

Image of a man playing with his adopted mature adult dog

Adult dogs who are 3 to 7 years old are usually mostly if not completely house trained. They have also learned many of the basic commands such as sit, stay, and come.

These dogs have usually been evaluated by shelter or rescue groups for their compatibility toward kids, dogs, or cats. These dogs still may have some puppy instincts and be very playful.

You will also know what size dog you are adopting, so there are no surprises on the size that your dog grows into. Most adult dogs who are adopted know that they have a great life living with you and will appreciate you adopting them.

Some adult dogs may come with a few bad or unwanted behaviors.

These behaviors can take a little longer to be untrained. With time and persistence, you can un-train some of these behaviors.

Adult dogs can have a harder time bonding with their new family. They may have spent many years being alone or abandoned and can take time to trust new people. Some of these dogs can become fear biters when they are put into a new situation.

Adopting a Senior Adult Dog: Over 7 Years Old

Image of a happy adopted senior adult dog looking at its owner on a leash in a dog park

If you decide to adopt a senior adult dog, there are many fulfilling benefits that you will have.

These dogs are already house trained and know many basic commands. You can test their personality out with other animals and kids before adopting an older dog.

Even though these dogs do not have as long to live as a puppy, you will get a lot of joy from giving an older dog a great few years of life in a loving home.

Older dogs are very sweet and quiet. They love to lounge in their dog bed or spend time with you curled up on the couch.

A senior dog may have some age-related issues that you may have to deal with.

They may have joint pain, vision loss, or other chronic issues. Some of these health problems can be expensive.

An older dog may have some habits that are impossible to change. You can teach an old dog a new trick, but unteaching them something may be very hard.

The biggest reason that most senior dogs are very hard to get adopted is that people do not want to get attached to an older dog that could die very soon.

However, adopting an older dog is a noble thing to do and by adopting an older dog you can give them a great last few years of their life.

Getting a Puppy: 8 Weeks to 1 Year Old

Image of a Havanese puppy sitting in bright green grass smiling

Some people do not want to worry about the dog that they have adopted having bad behaviors and want to start with a clean slate.

A puppy is great if you have time and patience. Puppies will need to be housetrained and taught many basic commands.

While they may be very cute and adorable, there is a lot that they need to learn. You can help mold and develop your puppy’s personality into what you want them to be like. You can also teach them right from wrong.

Puppies will have accidents in the house that you must clean. You will also have to invest a lot of money into vet care for your puppy. They will need vaccines and be spayed or neutered.

While some breeds usually are a standard size across the breed, mixed breeds can be almost any size. This could cause you to get a puppy you think is going to be small, and it ends up being very large. If you do get a puppy, plan on spending a lot of time at home training and socializing your puppy for their well-being and for them to turn into a well-mannered dog.

Differences Between Adopting an Adult Dog and Getting a Puppy

Adopting an adult dog usually is far less expensive than buying a puppy. An adoption fee ranges from free to a few hundred dollars. This usually includes a spay or neuter, vaccines, flea, tick and heartworm prevention, and microchipping.

When you purchase a puppy, you pay the cost of the puppy, which can range from 500 to a few thousand dollars. After you buy your puppy, you will have to pay for any vaccines they need, spay or neuter, and anything else that they need to get started in life.

The average cost of all of this could be well over $5,000. Buying a puppy can be very expensive, with a cost that continues to come.

When you adopt a dog, you will know a lot about their personalities and can even have a few days of a trial run to see if they fit in good with your family before making them a permanent member of the family.

When adopting a dog, there are even many pure breed dogs that do end up in shelters or rescue groups. If there is a certain breed that you want, do not forgo adopting as there may be a breed-specific rescue near you.

Challenges/Behavioral Issues You May Encounter

There are many challenges and behavioral issues you may encounter, no matter what age dog you get.

With time and patience, you can work through any behavioral issues that your new dog may have. These are common issues seen with older dogs and puppies.

Adult Dog Challenges

Image of an adult dog who has chewed up a pillow looking guilty

Adult dogs usually have already started to develop habits. Some of these are great, but some are not so great.

These dogs are usually potty trained, making their new owners very happy, but some may have other behavioral issues.

They may not like certain people or be distrusting of certain people. For example, tall men or men with beards. Some older dogs do not like children or cats. It’s possible for a dog to have had a bad experience with a certain type of person and the dog carried that with them.

Some dogs have anxiety about different things such as storms, fireworks, or separation anxiety.

Dogs who have spent a lot of their life in a shelter once they find a permanent home may develop separation anxiety. They think that you are leaving them for good every time you leave the house. This can be worked on but may always be an issue. Some dogs have such severe separation anxiety that they destroy anything and everything they can find.

Adult dogs can develop habits such as barking and chewing. These dogs may constantly bark at things moving outside, doorbells, or strange people in their house.

Usually, with a little time and patience, you can teach these dogs not to bark.

Dogs who are chewers can be easily taught what is okay to chew on and what is not approved. Make sure that your new adult dog has toys and approve things to chew on before they come home.

These are all things that you need to consider when getting an adult dog. Sometimes these behaviors can be quickly changed, but sometimes it is a lifelong struggle.

Challenges of Having a Puppy

Image of a jack russell puppy laying on a green carpeted floor looking guilty after having an accident

Puppies can always be a challenge at first.

Puppies are not potty trained and will need to be taught where it’s appropriate to potty. This can take a few months or even longer, depending on the puppy.

Puppies are also more destructive and chew on things. Puppies go through a teething phase where they will chew on shoes, clothes, and furniture. You should keep in mind that these bad behaviors will happen and have patience with your puppy as you train them to stop.

You will have to have a lot of extra time for a puppy.

Many puppies cannot hold their bladder all day, and you or someone will have to go home during the middle of the day to let your puppy outside to potty.

You will also need to spend time socializing and training your puppy. Puppies can be a lot of hard work for them to get to the point where they’re well-behaved and properly socialized. You’ll need to find time to do things like fit puppy classes into your busy schedule and spend time introducing your puppy to people so that your new puppy gets used to being around strangers.

How You Could Save a Dog’s Life by Adopting

Dogs that are in a shelter can only stay in the shelter for so long. When you adopt an adult dog, you are not only saving their life but the lives of other dogs who need a place in a shelter or rescue.

If you get a dog from a rescue group, then they’ll have space for another rescue dog.

Many rescue groups will take dogs from a shelter and place them with foster parents who can start teaching them basic commands and manners. This helps make these dogs more adoptable and frees up more room in a shelter.

Adopting an adult dog will not only be saving a dog’s life; the dog will also be enriching your life. A dog that you adopt is usually very grateful that you took them from the shelter situation that they are very grateful for you and make your life full of joy.

Studies have shown that owning a dog helps decrease stress. They also help make people healthier and live longer and happier lives. People who suffer from depression often get dogs to help with their depression, so the dog that you adopt may also be saving your life.

Final Thoughts

At first, many people love the thought of getting a cute puppy but then they realize how much work it takes. Adopting an adult dog is usually less work and less of a hassle to add to your family.

While older dogs may have a few bad habits that you need to work through, they can make wonderful pets.

When looking for a new dog, also consider a senior dog. They may just have a few years of life left, but you can give them a great loving home for their last few years. These dogs will give you great satisfaction knowing that they spent their lives in a wonderful home full of love and attention and not in a shelter.

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