Puppy or Adult
This is a question most people don't stop to think about, but they should. Typically, when people think of getting a dog, they think about getting a puppy. They think of the cute ball of fluff running around the house making the family laugh. They want to nurture and raise the dog from a pup.
Do You Really Want a Puppy?
Think about it: Do you really want a puppy? Is a puppy the best fit with your family's lifestyle? Having a puppy is like having a two-year-old in the house. Puppies want to get into everything, and they use their mouths to explore. They need to chew, and if you don't supply a variety of toys, they'll chew what's available.
It's a fact: Puppies are adorable. Who wouldn't fall in love instantly with this Irish Setter puppy? One look into those soulful eyes is all it takes.
Puppies need to be kept on very strict schedules in order to be housetrained. That means taking the puppy out first thing in the morning, several times during the day, and last thing at night. It means monitoring the puppy during the day to try to prevent accidents from happening. It means making a real commitment to training and socializing, because when your puppy gets big and she doesn't know what's expected of her, she'll make the rules. It may be cute to have your puppy curl up on the couch with you or sleep in your bed or jump up on you to greet you, but then don't be surprised if you meet with resistance when your pup's grown up and you don't want her doing those things anymore.
What Older Dogs Have to Offer
When you get an older dog, you obviously miss the adorable stages of puppyhood. You miss the complete experience of growing together from the time he's ten to twelve weeks to twelve to fourteen years old. But you do get other things in return. Older dogs are generally calmer; they're usually housetrained; they're more set in their ways; and people report that they seem grateful to be in a new home in which they're loved and appreciated.
There's also the feel-good part of getting an older dog, because whether you adopt one from a shelter or a purebred rescue group, or just take one in from a neighbor, you are essentially saving that dog's life. Yes, you are inheriting behaviors that the dog has learned from his previous owners or circumstances, but contrary to the old saying, you can teach an old dog new tricks. And if you approach getting an older dog as conscientiously as you would approach getting a puppy, you're sure to find one whose temperament suits you ideally.
Am I doing the right thing?
You may be more confused now than when you first started thinking about getting a dog! Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. The final decision is what's best for you and your family. It's understanding the pros and cons that go into that decision that will truly make it the right one in the end.
Adopting an older dog doesn't limit your choices much, either. It doesn't mean going to the dog pound and rescuing a mangy mutt on death row. There are many older dogs available — both purebred and mixed-breed — that are physically and mentally sound. The obvious thing about taking in an older dog is that you're making a difference in a dog's life. But the thing you need to consider is: Is an adult dog going to make a difference in your life?