The UK is in lockdown once again and while at home, many of us are thinking of adopting a pet. Whether you live alone or with your partner or family, there are lots of great reasons to consider adopting a pet into your home. Of course, before adopting any pet, it’s important to ensure that you will still be able to care for them after lockdown is over and when the world goes back to normal. Getting a dog is a huge amount of responsibility, so it’s a wise idea to take your time and decide if it really is the right option for you over the long-term.
Getting a puppy can seem like a cute idea, but if you’ve decided that this lockdown is the best time to open your home to a new pet, it’s definitely worth considering an older dog. Here are some reasons to consider giving an older dog a loving home rather than getting a puppy.
If You Want a Dog for Lockdown
If after careful consideration you have decided that getting a dog might not be sustainable for you in the long-term, don’t worry. You might still be able to get a dog just for lockdown by working with rescues to foster dogs who are looking for their forever home. Many rescue centres and shelters work with the general public to find people who are willing to take their dogs in for a certain amount of time, to keep them out of kennels and provide them with a caring, home environment to live in while they wait to be adopted. This can be a seriously rewarding experience for anybody and can be a great alternative to actually adopting a dog if you feel that you might struggle to give them all the care and attention that they need after the lockdown.
Puppies Require Socialisation
Getting a puppy for lockdown isn’t a great idea for many reasons but one of the biggest is that puppies need to be socialised. The first eight to ten weeks of a puppy’s life, especially, are crucial for their future development and the more socialised they are during this time, the better. Not socialising a puppy means that as they grow up, they might be missing out on some key social skills with people and other dogs, which can lead to behavioural problems and more. Since we are all staying inside as much as possible, helping your puppy socialise is certainly not going to be easy.
Adopting an Older Dog is Rewarding
Adopting an older dog is one of the most rewarding things that you can ever do. Many older dogs have been in shelters waiting for their loving home for some time, while others have suddenly found themselves in a confusing situation, for example, if their previous owner has passed away. Older dogs in rescue centres just want to be safe and loved, and providing that for your new pet will make you feel like nothing else.
Skip the Training Stage
Many older shelter dogs are actually perfectly trained and very well-behaved. It’s a common misconception that dogs who end up in shelters tend to have behavioural problems and need a lot of work. While of course, you’ll always find dogs who do fit this description, many are very well-trained and have ended up in the rescue centre through no fault of their own. Unlike puppies who need to learn everything from scratch, adopting an older dog means that you don’t have to worry about things like toilet training or basic obedience classes, although some dogs might definitely benefit from refresher training.
Get Out More
Unlike when you bring a puppy home, adopting an older dog means that you can start enjoying lockdown walks and adventures with them straight away. You can take an older dog for a walk in your local park on the day that you bring them home if you like if you feel that they’re in a good place to do that. On the other hand, it’s quite dangerous to take a puppy outside when you first bring them home as they will usually need to have had their second and third sets of vaccinations before this is possible. Before the second round of vaccines, your puppy is particularly at-risk for canine parvovirus, which can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. You’ll likely need to wait a minimum of two weeks before you can start walking a puppy. This time is usually crucial for socialisation but often has to be done inside homes where it’s safe for the pup – something that’s not possible right now in lockdown.
Some Tips for Adopting an Older Dog During Lockdown
Providing a forever loving home to an older rescue dog during lockdown will be one of the best things that you’ll ever do. Some tips to make the experience safe and comfortable for your new dog, and more enjoyable for yourself, include:
1. Provide Them with a Safe Space
Many dogs are a little confused and apprehensive when moving from the rescue centre to their new home. Provide them with a safe space that they can retreat to. Many dogs like dens, so a crate covered up with a blanket with comfortable pillows and blankets inside is a great choice.
2. Understand Their Nutritional Needs
Many older dogs require a certain type of nutrition, especially if they are getting on in life. The rescue centre should let you know what type of food they are used to, and you can ask your vet for extra advice. An older dog who experiences joint stiffness and pain may benefit from adding some of the best joint supplements for dogs to their diet. You may want to try YuMove; these are considered the best joint supplements for dogs and include a range of ingredients such as green-lipped mussels, C & E vitamins and magnesium to help your dog’s mobility and comfort.
3. Give Them Time to Settle In
With everybody stuck at home during the lockdown, it can be tempting to want to start spending as much time with your dog and going for as many walks as you’re allowed to. But this can be quite overwhelming for a dog who’s just moved into a new home, so be sure to give them plenty of time and space to settle into their new home. With consistent affection, kindness and respect from you, your dog will begin to settle in and settle down in their new home.
4. Understand Their Exercise Needs
Before bringing your new dog home from the shelter, it’s important to learn as much as you can about them and their breed so that you understand their exercise needs. Depending on the age of the dog that you’re adopting, you might need to adapt your expectations, since many older dogs don’t require a huge amount of exercise or prefer to gently stroll in the park.
5. Focus on Bonding
Finally, focus on bonding through playing and spending time with your dog. Get to know your new dog’s personality and find out what they love doing the most. Many older dogs will get just as excited as a puppy would if you offer them a game of fetch or tug.
Getting a puppy might seem like a good idea for lockdown, but the truth is that being stuck at home can do puppies more harm than good. If you’ve decided to welcome a new pet into your family this lockdown, giving an older rescue dog a loving home can be one of the best things you’ll ever do.