So you've made a decision to get a dog! You've worked out all the logistics of home care, you know where the nearest pet shop is, checked out the best vet and are keen to make the decision to go and choose your new dog.
We often get asked "what age of dog shall we get?" A tough one as all dogs are just great, but both young and old dogs have their pro's and con's. Do you opt for the super cute and cuddly puppy or choose an older dog who may not have the cuteness factor but has more experience of life and may make life easier for you quicker?
So where do you start in the decision process?
The first step is to analyze your own life and home environment, look around you and imagine a dog living and being with you in your world. Imagine the commitments and routines that will be required on a daily basis regardless of what else is going on in your life. Caring for a dog never stops from the moment you get it to the moment they pass away! Try and picture who will be feeding the dog, how many times will your dog need to go out to toilet and walks, where will their bed be or will you allow your new dog on the sofa? If your dog wants to play is there plenty of space, do you have a garden or just a balcony? How about your routines, are all members of the family at work all day, if so how will a dog cope without you being around and what will they do in your home when left unattended? If you have kids will they take part in the care of the dog or will the burden eventually wear off and you get lumbered with more chores around the home? Do you enjoy your weekends doing nothing or getting out and about and exploring? All these things need thinking about...... to include a dog.
The pro's and con's of a Puppy
They are of course, cute, cuddly, playful and everything is just a big game for a puppy. Their age means that they are out to explore absolutely everything and everything they do indeed explore. With this exploration comes destruction on various levels, unlike humans they don't have hands so most things are tested or picked up with their teeth. Anything new will most probably be examined by chewing, sucking, nibbling and pulling apart. This behaviour is not at all unusual as it is to be expected of a healthy puppy. If a puppy was still with his mother and litter mates they would be encouraged by the mother to explore and test things as part of learning and growing up to be an adult dog. This helps them learn how to hunt their prey, kill it and then eat it, even though they maybe bred as domestic dogs their prey instinct is very much in tact and this comes across as puppy play in the domestic dog.
Puppies also are totally inexperienced in the world and they do not come with a remote control or puppy manual! They do not come trained, they do not know where and when to pee and poop, they don't realize that their barking (to get your attention over and over again) can be a nuisance to those other than their owners and their body clock can be a little all over the place. Their desire to dig holes and seek out new smells can be overwhelming and the washing basket will be emptied time and time again to parade around the lounge with underwear and odd socks in their mouth when you have guests visiting! Does a puppy still sound like fun? ;)
To list in short the below can be challenging when acquiring a puppy:
Not toilet trained.
Digging in the garden.
Awake at random times day and night.
Sleeps a lot.
Messy when eating.
Costs for training.
Costs for initial veterinary care, starter vaccinations.
And the positives of having a puppy:
Cute and adorable (of course).
Behavioural issues can usually be corrected quicker.
Training can be easier.
Children are more engaged with puppies to help care for them.
Best time to socialize them with other dogs.
They can be toilet trained quicker.
They will settle quicker in the home and are more accepting of new environments.
The Pro's and con's of an Adult Dog
It is not uncommon for adult dogs to be overlooked in dog shelters, typically adults are not for sale with breeders as they prefer to sell puppies on quicker as they are a more attractive "product." So usually adopting is the key with adult dogs.
Adult dogs have obviously been on the planet longer than puppies so they have life experience behind them, their experiences could be either positive or negative depending on where they have been and where they have come from. That said all adult domestic dogs deserve a second chance at being with a family.
Adult dogs can be set in their ways and may need longer to adjust to a new environment and people, if they are confident and have had positive experiences beforehand then this will not be an issue, when looking to adopt an adult dog if you do not have the time to train and work with a "challenged" dog then look for a confident and happy dog who is engaging with you from the first meeting. If you have the time and money to work with a dog who is less confident has known behavioural or training issues then it is an admirable thing to do to accept the challenge and take on a dog who needs a little bit more time and effort of which the rewards will be immense when results and goals are achieved together.
What can be challenging when getting an adult dog?
Unknown behaviour issues.
Not knowing their history.
Not knowing any health problems.
May take longer to settle into their new home.
Positives of getting an adult dog.
Almost always toilet trained.
Well trained and behaved.
Walks well on a leash.
Already confident and experienced.
May not chew things.
Will be appreciative and positive to be with a new family.
Have set daily routines already.
Whichever you decide to do, remember to look inwards to what you can offer a dog into your home. Do not make a snap decision based on your heart only, look at the practical side of dog care and routine, snap decisions usually go wrong. Do not be overwhelmed with jargon and marketing from the source of where you get your dog from, it is your decision alone, if you are unsure then don't get a dog until you are 100% ready. You can always go back a week, month or year later when you are completely ready to welcome a dog into your life. Remember a dog is for their entire life, they will view you as their pack mate until death do you part and by doing that it will make you an awesome person.