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As November is the ASPCA’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month, I thought I would extol the virtues of senior dogs. Although puppies are adorable, they require a lot of work. Puppies need constant training, play time and housebreaking. Conversely, older dogs can be much easier. Too often they are abandoned in shelter not because they are bad dogs but because their owners have passed away. Yet they still have a lot of love to give, plus usually have had some training.


While age 7 generally marks the start of the senior years, the actual age more often depends on the dog’s breed and/or size. For example, large breeds like the Great Dane are called senior starting at age 5, while small breeds such as the Chihuahua may be considered senior at age 9. Here are some advantages of adopting a more mature dog:

  1. Less destructive. Many older pets are well past the digging and chewing phase.
  2. Have basic obedience training. Most older dogs settle into a new home easily – they’ve already learned what it takes to get along with others and to be a part of the “pack”.
  3. Most senior dogs are housebroken.
  4. You can teach an older dog new tricks. They are generally more attentive and eager to please than their younger counterparts.
  5. You can adopt a purebred pet. You would be surprised how many pure breeds are looking for new homes.
  6. Ideal for seniors. Many senior citizens benefit from the company of an older dog, because they are calmer, trained and need less exercise. They are content to move through life at a slower speed.
  7. There’s no guessing. Adult dogs have reached their maximum size, shape and personality – what you see is what you get.
  8. First Pet. If this is your first dog, or if you cannot devote the time necessary to train, socialize, and exercise a puppy properly, an adult dog could be a better option for you.
  9. You’ll be a hero. Older pets seem to have an intrinsic sense that without you, they wouldn’t have a home.

Open your heart to a hard-to-place pet and help save the life of a senior dog.

Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.


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