What are the risks of adopting an older dog?
If you don't know the dog's history, are you taking a chance he may be overly aggressive?
Most places that have older dogs for adoption test them to determine if they have agressive behaviors. Mild behavior issues can be solved with good training no matter the age usually. The only downsides I have ever found is you may have to take an older dog to the vet more often and sadly you have to prepare for its death sooner.
Typically, the shelter or rescue you are adopting from will do some testing with each dog when they are brought in. Be sure to ask the shelter what sort of testing (if any) they have done and how the dog did. Our local shelter scores animals as red, yellow or green based on their temperament, how they interact with other dogs and whether or not they gaurd their food, etc. Most often, red dogs are not allowed to be adopted as they have too high of a risk of being returned. The shelter tries to work with them, but if space does not allow, these dogs are sometimes put to sleep to make room for dogs that have a higher chance of being adopted (green or sometimes yellow dogs).
If the shelter doesn't do much testing, I would recommend meeting the dog a couple times to see if you can get a feel for them. Try different things like playing ball and walking. Some shelters will let you take the dog home for a night (some don't allow this of course). You can usually get a pretty good idea of how aggressive a dog is by just walking and playing a time or two. Overall, I would say the risk of being surprised when you get home isn't too high.And the risk certainly doesn't outweigh the reward of adopting a shelter dog in need! Good luck and let us know how your search turns out!
The risks primarily lie with you. After receiving the preliminary evaluations by the caretaker of the dog, have a professional evaluate it. Then have the dog examined by a vet (you will be able to do little with a dog that has a traumatic brain injury). With that information you can evaluate your skills and limitations to see if the dog is a good fit.
Even an extremely aggressive dog can be trained to be appropriate in its aggression. While you cannot control the dog 100% you have 80% to 90% influence and even more. Don't let the excuses and myths get to you. You mostly get out of your dog what you put into it-
IF you are WILLING to take the TIME and ENERGY to train it.
Some breeds are strong and large and they know it. It doesn't matter as much how dangerous you may think a particular breed is (e.i. Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Doberman, etc.), what matters more is the individual. If it is big, it is more likely to cause damage from aggression.
Females statistically bite more than males.
Is the dog altered? (Spayed or neutered?)
Some things you can know, others you can't. It is good to know what the past is, but what is faaaaar more important is the now. Too many people get hung up on the past and expect the dog to act as if it was abused, which encourages negative behavior. If you expect the dog to have proper behaviors despite its history, you will have amazing results!
If you aren't willing to invest the time and energy to do what it takes to properly train a dog with an unknown history, you are taking a big risk.
No. No "overly aggressive" dog would be placed up for adoption. You actually have a higher risk of adopting a dog with aggression if you adopt a puppy than an older dog. You will not be able to tell what the puppy's adult personality is until the dog reaches maturity.
I adopted a 3 mos. old puppy from the humane society that was normal until the age of 2 - when she reached 2 years of age, genetics and lack of early socialization and the effects of early trauma and perhaps poor maternal nutrition and health kicked in and she developed fear and anxiety issues.
I still have the dog, bu the way and she has been doing pet therapy work for 3 years, but it has been a long haul to help her overcome her anxiety and fear issues.
Most of the dogs in the humane society are there because their owners failed to train them and when the dog reached adolescence the dog became too much to handle.
When you adopt an older dog, you can feel good about saving a life and you will can also be more sure of what you are getting than if you adopt a puppy.
It is highly unlikely the dog will have any aggression issues because all dogs are evaluated on intake and if they show any sign of illness or aggression they are usually euthanized due to limited space in shelters.
When you adopt an older dog you also avoid the trouble of housebreaking and other bothersome puppy issues such as teething and chewing.
You can feel good about giving a home to an older dog - and no worries about aggression. Really.
I only take in elderly animals because they are the ones that no-one else wants.
In my experience the benefits far outweight the only downside - and that is that they only have a few years of life left rather than a whole lifetime as a kitten or a puppy does.
On the upside, they are past the scratching,ripping things to shreds stage and are quite content ambling around and enjoying the home comforts they may not have had before.
I have had the privilege of welcoming some wonderful elderly animals into my home and without exception, they have been loving and gentle companions
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