You’ve decided that you’re not prepared to train and raise a puppy, but you still want the dog. An older puppy, even a mature dog is a great alternative. Many dog breeds are highly adaptable but you have to check for this first before you consider this option.
There are plenty of reasons why older dogs are available. Sometimes breeders hold on to a puppy to determine his breeding potential. Other times someone else had to part with his dog and he was returned to the breeder. In any case, he is there for you to take.
Chances are that the dog is already housebroken, well-trained and has many behavior patterns already set. All you need to do is determine that the dog was properly loved and taken care of.
What do I need to know?
First, you need to know that he will probably give you some troubles at first, he will be confused by the many changes between environments and he might suffer from low self-esteem for a little while.
Your job is to be patient and consistent in reassuring him that he’s safe, that this is his new home and that you and he will have a great time together. His self-esteem will return, he will be outgoing again and he will adapt to your routine.
Try to find out everything you can about the dog before you get him. Anything can be helpful, such as habits, daily routine, his diet and history, his favorite toys and activities. Also, make sure that all of your family members meet the dog beforehand and agree that he is the dog you want.
How do I help him adapt to his new home?
Take it upon yourself to be home full time for the first few days. Don’t ever get angry with the dog because he doesn’t know what you want from him yet. Make things clear so he knows where to sleep and where to relieve himself. Where and when he will eat and what is generally allowed in the house are all equally important. Give him time so he can learn what is expected of him.
After a month or so you can begin formal obedience training. Even if the dog is already quite proficient at various commands obedience training is an excellent way to deepen the bond between you and help both of you understand each other completely.
Getting an older dog, as opposed to a puppy, can mean you get the result you wanted much faster. Both are great companions, equally suitable for you so weigh your options carefully, and only make a decision when you’re sure what you want.