Sunday, December 8, 2013

5 reasons adult dogs are much, much better than puppies

Sinead the puppy and her toys

Sinead the puppy Boston terrier had her first birthday last week, and as this photo clearly demonstrates, she had a whale of a time. Presents and zucchini cupcakes were hers for the taking, and she even got to skip the dreaded afternoon walk in the freezing cold for a special treat.

Obviously, she had a lot to be thankful for, but I had my own reasons for throwing her a party. For me, this birthday meant the end of the days of the puppy, and I'm really glad about that. While I loved her little puppy belly and intense small dog cuteness, I think older dogs are far superior to the whippersnappers. Here's why:

1. Adult dogs  have potty training figured out.

Sinead potty trained rather easily, as did Liam, but it took an intense amount of vigilance on my part to make it work. I had to supervise each place they went, and be prepared to haul their butts outside if it even seemed as though they might need to go. It's a little exhausting. Adult dogs, on the other hand, usually have the potty business down pat, so there's no need for me to be on high alert around the clock.

2. Older dogs have impulse control. 

When Sinead was smaller, it was hard to keep her from doing something that she wanted to do. She saw a morsel of food, she ate it. She saw a squirrel, she chased it. As an adult, she's more likely to think through her options, and weigh the costs of doing something crazy against the injury she might face. She's also more likely to ask for my input, and listen to me if I ask her not to act on her impulses. This makes living with her much easier.

Sinead the Boston and a cupcake
Sinead waits for the "okay" command that tells her the cupcake
is fair game. 

3. Older dogs have less energy. 

Living with a puppy means living with a creature that has two speeds: on and off. Sinead was hard to pet when she was younger, as any contact I'd initiate seemed like an invitation to play. She ran around the yard at top speed multiple times each day, and she wore my other poor pets out with her constant demands for attention. She was a drama queen, and while it was endearing, I also love the mellow side of her adult personality. Now, she plays and runs, but she also takes time to nap. She loves to snuggle, and she's content to simply sit near me without asking me to throw something or pull on something. As an adult, her energy level more closely resembles mine.

Sinead the Boston terrier will not fall asleep
In desperate need of a nap.

4. Older dogs know basic commands. 

This is a biggie, and it's only true if you take the time to teach a pup the basics, but it's nice to feel as though I have at least a modicum of control over what Sinead will and will not do in a given situation. If I need her to get out from underfoot, I can simply tell her to do so and she complies. When she was smaller, it was a bit like living with someone who didn't speak the language. I'd ask her to do something, and she'd look at me blankly. It's nice to have a dog that can communicate with me.

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier waiting for a treat
Liam and Sinead demonstrating a nice sit.

5. Older dogs have independence. 

Dogs are pack animals, and I find that small puppies need almost constant physical contact with another living being. Little Sinead was reluctant to sleep on the floor in her warm bed at night, when she first came into my life, and she'd cry until I picked her up and let her into the person bed. I had to throw toys for her, as she wouldn't play with them alone. She always wanted to sit in my lap. I loved this, of course, and she's still a very needy little dog. But, as an adult, she happily sleeps in her own bed and plays with her own toys. Sometimes, she seems to need a little alone time, and she'll head out into the yard to search for fun and adventure. I like to think that she feels more confident as an adult, and that's reflected in her habits.

Sinead the Boston terrier with a toy
Solitary, under-the-couch play.

I got Sinead as a puppy as I wanted my husband to experience puppyhood at least once in his life. But, we're both agreed that Sinead will be our last. As she grows and changes, it's so apparent that we prefer adult dogs. As much as we love puppies, we're really made for adults. So it's adult rescue for us from now on. Hopefully, if you agree with my points, you'll do the same, and give an older dog a chance in your home. Chances are, you won't regret it.

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