We all envy that one friend who got a puppy as soon as they moved off campus. Who can blame them? Puppies make people happy cry more than any other animal on earth. Sadly, students fail to realize that college kids can’t handle the responsibility of a puppy. Those that take on the challenge find themselves struggling to raise the puppy. Those that forego the collegiate canine experience altogether do so with heavy hearts. Did you ever think about moving past the puppy aisle to the older, already-trained dogs? The perfect companion actually waits just around the corner.
1. Cut Back on Total Training Time
If you know anything about training a puppy, then you understand that class everyday can seriously mess up your pup’s schedule. “With puppies in particular, if you’re in class all day and you can’t get back and forth between your apartment, you’re going to find yourself with a big mess and it will be harder to get them housebroken,” said Margot DeConna, Director of Development for the Alachua County Human Society. Plus, puppies whine at you for attention constantly and need tons of playtime. A full-time student can’t provide that with classes, homework, organizations, sports and partying (no, you can’t take your dog with you to the club). Older shelter dogs already come housebroken and know basic commands. And they actually know how to sit still for more than two minutes.
2. Save on Expenses
Older dogs almost always cost less to adopt, especially if they have lived in the shelter a long time. Even if you find score that puppy for free, initial vet visits cost a lot of money. “Puppies need vaccines every two weeks for quite a while which takes up a lot of time and can get expensive,” DeConna said. That doesn’t even include getting your dog spayed or neutered. Carpet cleaning, replacements and training costs also find their way onto your monthly bills when you train the puppy. Older dogs, meanwhile, usually come vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Another expense new owners tend not to think about? Microchipping. “Any time you get a rescue animal here they are microchipped,” DeConna added. At Alachua County Humane Society, adopting an older dog costs $25 and adopting a puppy costs a whopping $160.
3. Eliminate the Guesswork
Older dogs come fully-grown so you won’t need to purchase a new collar every month for your ever-growing puppy. No need for a bed that immediately becomes two sizes too small. Basically, what you see is what you get and you don’t need to worry that the dog will get bigger than expected. With puppies, you also guess what temperament the dog will grow into, whereas your older dog has settled into its personality and will be upfront with you from the start about any behavioral problems.
4. Form a Faster Friendship
When you first get a puppy, they sometimes cry for a week. They didn’t want leave their mom. Although you try to snuggle with them immediately, they just aren’t that into it. But an older dog could not be happier to run around, sit on your lap and explore all their new home offers. Nothing beats the bond between a rescue dog and his rescuer because they feel so overwhelmed and grateful to have you in their lives. “I’ve heard this said a lot by our adopters—those animals know that you saved them. They’re a lot more perceptive than people give them credit for and they understand that you gave them a home,” DeConna said. Plus, there’s no disciplining phase to tear you apart. Friendship with an older dog means an immediate loyalty like no other.
5. Save Your Sleep Schedule
You can hit snooze on an alarm clock unless that alarm clock yaps and begs to go outside. You may mistake your puppy for a new born baby the first few months. You need to get up insanely early to take them outside. Sometimes you’ll pull all-nighters without the homework solely because the puppy has trouble getting used to a new environment. An older dog already sleeps through the night from day one and actually appreciates your snuggles.
6. Keep Your Furniture (and Skin) Intact
Save your shoes and protect your toes. Teething is one of the worst phases a puppy can go through. Whether they destroy your clothes or rip open your skin with too playful biting, puppies chew everything. And they lose their teeth. Did I mention they think your furniture is food? Skip the bite marks and get an older dog who has put that phase behind them. You won’t deal with those innocent eyes when you come home and find the place destroyed because an older dog knows that chewing stuff was a passing fad.
7. Become a Hero
Unfortunately, a dog’s chance at adoption drops dramatically as it ages. “Puppies usually get adopted the day they go out on the floor but in the past we have had older dogs who have been in the shelter for a year or longer,” DeConna said. This leads to a higher number of older dogs being put down at kill shelters. “We struggle to find them homes because people can’t stand the idea of losing a dog ‘so soon’ after getting them, but how many years the dog has left depends on their breed. And isn’t it better for them to be in a home getting love and attention than in a shelter for the last years of their life?” Older dogs will love you just as much and appreciate you more. By adopting them, you bring the light back into their life and give them the home they deserve.