I just happened to be tuned in to the Today Show yesterday and caught the tail end of the piece they did on people opting for dogs instead of children.

I did say dogs, didn’t I? Yes – and they are skipping puppy-hood and opting to adopt older dogs instead of puppies.

They are going for pure breeds and mutts from rescue organizations.

They want to skip all the issues with house training, biting and jumping that comes with raising a puppy. They are generally “better educated” 🙂
Dogs Instead of Children

Yes,things are a changing in this fast paced world! As far back as I can remember, parents used to get dogs for kids instead of choosing dogs over kids.

Today, nobody seems to have the time or worse yet wants to take the time to raise or train their dog. They are gambling that the older dog won’t come with dog behavior problems and are probably also thinking that once you get a dog, and you like the dog, that it will be that way forever.

A word of caution: Even older dogs need structure in your home and in their life with you. Not providing your older adopted rescue dog with adequate structure and boundaries could be setting the wheels in motion laying the ground work for the very dog behavior problems you initially tried to avoid by getting an older dog to begin with.
What do I mean by this?

Here are some examples of problems that could occur in an older dog:

  • Older dogs can begin to soil in the houseif they become insecure in their sense of place in your home with you and your spouse. Providing adequate structure and boundaries can keep this from happening. 
  • Too much doting or unearned love and affectionmay cause your older dog to consider you his property versus his leader which can in turn lead to guarding you from others he wishes not to share you with. This sometimes includes spouses. Providing adequate structure and boundaries can keep this from happening – especially if you start from day one and let your newly adopted dog know what the rules are. He will appreciate it more than you know. 
  • Older dogs can also get bored and look for things around the house to chew on in your absence. Providing your dog with an adequate exercise program and enriching his environment can go a long way to provide him with novel sights, sounds and experiences to think about while you are gone from the house. 
  • Too much love and affection can produce separation anxiety in some older dogs.  Not in all dogs – just some dogs. Down play your departures and arrivals. That is, ignore your dog for 5 minutes upon departure and upon arrival. This will help to level out his emotional highs at critical times of the day.

Relationships with dogs are a “give-and-take” deal – just like with people. Keep your relationship with your dog well-balanced – you’ll be glad you did.

Relationships – with people or dogs is a lot of work. There’s no getting around it. Always be aware of your dog’s needs:

  •   They need:  A road map to success with you,
  •   They need:  Plenty of exercise and training and
  •   They need:  Fun things frequently on the agenda like a trip to the beach, walk in the park or a “road trip” with you somewhere that is fun and dog friendly.

Remember, kids grow up and eventually move out on their own – if you did your job right. Your dog is going to stay with you forever. So get the relationship right for the long haul. The next thing to do is to sit back and enjoy the ride.

And remember, “Together we can raise a happy and obedient dog.”

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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best:  “There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.” Jane Wagner