Puppies for seniors? Is it a good idea?

As people get older, many “dog people” have concerns about adding a new puppy or dog to the household. There are ways be certain that your dog will be cared for forever. Puppies and seniors are a great combination.

It’s possible a new dog will outlive me. Is it fair to get a dog?

It’s not only fair – it’s a great idea! There are lots of ways to be sure your dog will be taken care of in the event something happens to you. Make sure you have your instructions in place, via a will or letter of instruction. You can even designate someone with power of attorney specifically for your pet.

Will breeders even talk to an older person about getting a puppy?

Of course! Yours may be the perfect home that every good breeder wants for their puppies! You’re financially stable, responsible, and have plenty of time to spend with your dog. Puppies and seniors are a great combination. And reputable breeders, in any breed, will have their puppy buyers sign a contract legally binding the owner to return the dog if something happens and the owner is unable to keep the dog. A dog from a responsible breeder will always have a home. 

What if I really don’t want a puppy? What are my options for older dogs?

Puppies require a lot of work and energy. And there are many older dogs waiting for “forever families” in rescues and shelters. It’s a good idea to research any shelter or rescue carefully – make sure the shelter or rescue will welcome the dog back if something unforeseen should occur.

Are there other options for seniors who want adult dogs?

Absolutely! Consider becoming involved as a “foster home” for dogs from your local shelter or preferred breed rescue in your area. In most fostering situations, the rescue picks up all the bills for the dog while it acclimates to life in a normal home situation. Some shelters and rescues encourage “foster failures” and allow the foster home to adopt the dog. Others have rules that don’t allow it, so do your research before you commit.

What if I really want a pure-bred dog?

We understand entirely! With a pure-bred dog, you know the size, type of fur, general disposition, and health concerns of the breed. Although, as we know, every dog has its own, unique personality! If you’d like an older dog of a particular breed, reach out to the parent club of your breed. Find the Breeder Directory (most breed clubs have them) and reach out to breeders in your area. Responsible breeders may have adult dogs that have been retired from their breeding programs and may be available to be spoiled, only dogs in your home.

New dog dilemma

Just this week we talked to a couple of people, life-long dog people, who had dilemmas about welcoming a new dog into their families.

The first woman came into the shop looking for a gift for a friend’s new puppy, which is what started the conversation. She recently lost her beloved mixed breed “malti-poo” after 16 years. She said she’d love to get another dog, but didn’t want to obligate her children to care for a dog if it outlived her. Especially since her dog had lifelong health issues that required careful management. She is exactly the kind of owner that any responsible breeder would welcome as a puppy buyer.

Maltese puppy

She had no idea that responsible breeders strive to eliminate the health issues her dog faced by doing extensive health testing on the dogs in their breeding programs. Or that good breeders will always be available to support their puppy buyers throughout the dog’s life. She left the shop with a plan to contact the American Maltese Association and set about finding a wonderful companion.

So much wrong

The second person called us by mistake, looking for a “board and train” facility for her 10-week old puppy. We were really happy she made the mistake – we were able to help.

At first, we were kind of appalled by how many things were wrong with the question. There’s a lot to unpack here.

First: you don’t board a 10-week old puppy. Research has shown that most puppies shouldn’t even leave their litters until two weeks later. 

Next: “Board and Train” is a terrible idea. Unless you know the trainer very well and have a long-established relationship with that person. And not even then. Search “board and train reviews” or “dog boot camp reviews” and read the horror stories. If you’re not there, how do you know that person who “gets great results” isn’t slapping a torture collar on your dog and zapping her into compliance? It gets results. And changes your dog’s personality forever.

As long-time dog trainers we know that dogs obey the person who trained them. And you’re missing out on one of the great joys dog ownership if you’re not playing training games with your dog. 

Onward: the family is scheduled to pick up the puppy on October 10 and leaving town for a family wedding on October 18. They’ll be gone a week. 

Naturally, we advised them to just call the puppy’s breeder and ask them to hold the puppy until they get back in town. This shouldn’t even be an issue! Any responsible breeder would be happy to accommodate! 

It turns out they’d already asked the breeder of their “Berna-doodle” to hold the puppy. And they wouldn’t. The “breeder” is the one who suggested “board and train.”

So wrong on so many levels

We were horrified and probably gasped audibly. This isn’t a responsible breeder. This is the owner of two fertile dogs looking to make as much money as possible without regard for any of the dogs. 

So we asked the caller why she chose that kind of dog. She said, “My husband’s allergic.” We probably gasped again. Anyone who claims that a mixed-breed dog will have a particular kind of fur is a liar. Bernese Mountain Dogs shed like crazy, some drool like nobody’s business, and are the last dog an allergic person should consider. Did you get the “best” genetics from your parents? Neither does your dog. It’s a mixed bag that only time will reveal.

Sadly, the poor woman caller was sniffling by this time – at a loss to know what to do. Under the circumstances, with all that we’d talked about, we advised her that the smartest thing to do would be to walk away from this situation. This wasn’t the time, or the puppy for them. 

Do your homework

And that’s possibly the best advice for anyone looking to get a dog. Do your research. Find a responsible breeder. Devoted to rescue? Delve deep into the ethics and reputation of any organization you’re considering supporting. 

A pet is the only family member you get to choose. Do your research and get the ideal dog for you. With luck you’ll spend more than a decade together. Don’t settle.

4 thoughts on “Puppies for seniors? Is it a good idea?

  1. Rhoda

    Thank you so much for all the helpful information you give on your blog. I also enjoy watching you work with your fur babies. You can tell they are truly loved


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