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Getting a new dog: Puppy or adult?

Sharpe
Hough

If you are thinking of adding a new dog to your household, consider adopting an adult dog.

Many people resist the idea of adopting an older dog thinking that you don't know what you'll get. But the opposite is true; spend a little time with the dog you are considering and you will soon know if he is shy, friendly, energetic or laid back.

Much of a puppy's personality will be determined by genetics from both of its parents, how the breeder has raised them and by the experiences they have had for the first few months of their lives.

Puppies are sometimes chosen at 2-3 weeks of age. At that age, you cannot predict what they will be like as adults. Even when choosing a puppy at 8 or 10 weeks of age, you cannot foresee what they will be like at 2 years of age.

Genetics, early social experience, training and exercise combined with a host of life experiences will determine their adult personality.

In need of rescue

When adopting a dog, spend some time with the dog to see if his personality will fit in with your household.

A responsible and knowledgeable rescue group will be able to give you some insights to any current or potential problems and allow you to spend time with the dog.

Does he get along with other dogs? Does he have issues with children or men? Be honest with yourself and if you're not willing or have time to work through the behavioral problems than continue your search for the right dog.

Many dogs in need of rescue are friendly dogs that were just a little too rambunctious for their previous owners. They just need a little training and exercise.

Most dogs in need of rescue are 6 months to 2 years of age, still in their energetic stage. Retrievers are great dogs, and people often choose a retriever puppy thinking they are going to have the laid back dog sleeping next to them while they read a book – forgetting they have to get through that active puppy stage before achieving their goal.

When considering an adult or older dog you'll see the new dog's personality and more clearly know if the dog fits into your lifestyle. Most adult dogs are past the chewing stage.

They may already be housetrained. If not, many times adult dogs housetrain much quicker than puppies because they have mature bladders and therefore don't need to eliminate every few hours. Their energy level is also beginning or has stabilized.

Want a particular breed?

If you are partial to a particular breed, you may be surprised to find purebred dogs are available through shelters and rescue groups. Every breed of dog has a rescue group, and often can be found in shelters or other adoption organizations.

At our local shelter, almost half the dogs available for adoption are purebreds.

Many dogs available for adoption have not been abused or neglected, but through no fault of their own, they were unable to stay with their original family.

The dog may have been given up due to allergies, a career change, a death in the family, the economy or a number of other reasons that has a dog in need of a new home.

Many people wrongly believe if a dog was given up he caused the previous owner problems. When the truth is the dog simply didn't fit into the previous family's lifestyle, but he may be the perfect dog for your household!

Tip of the week: Forget the adage you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs can learn new things at any age. Whether you've adopted a 6-month-old dog or a 6-year-old dog he or she is still capable of learning! By using positive reinforcement they can learn anything! Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email info@caninecompanion.us.

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the lead trainers are graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

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