Should I get a Puppy, Adolescent or Adult Dog?

Puppies have an incredible amount of appeal. There is nothing like filling a family photo album with pictures of Bowsie as a pudgy, waddling ball of fluff! Puppies are so cute, so funny, and so little - how much trouble can one really be? You might well be amazed.

Whining, teething, housebreaking, shots, wormings, digging, chewing, barking, etc.; the list stretches on into adulthood. Some new puppy owners are truly overwhelmed by what is simply normal puppy behavior. Training a puppy can only happen if someone is home to do it. This is why puppies should never be left alone for more than three or four hours at a time, and should never be given free run of the house or yard if unattended. A great misconception about puppies is that the younger they are when you get them, the better they will "bond" with their owners. Unfortunately, separating a puppy from its mom and littermates prior to seven to ten weeks of age can deprive it of a critical period of emotional development, and behavior problems could result later in the dog's life.

Adolescents are not nearly as cute as puppies. They seem to be all legs and feet and ears, and can definitely look strange during the four - ten month old stage. The benefits of getting an older puppy are not always readily apparent. The older pup has usually completed shots and wormings. It is mentally mature enough to train with longer-lasting results, and can be left alone for longer periods of time. It is also much easier to evaluate what the dog's personality will be like as an adult. There are some considerations, however. You will be getting a puppy at its most boisterous age and, if the puppy has been allowed to develop bad habits, you will have to "untrain" these. An adolescent of almost any breed, however, will still bond with your family just as well as a young puppy, and will spare you many of the trials of puppy infancy.

Adults are a finished product. What you see is what you get! No worries about how big or how friendly it will be. You can probably tell how well it will get along with you, your family, and your children. Adult dogs are often a much better choice for families with young children. They are calmer, and their temperaments are more stable, which means they are less likely to injure a young child unintentionally. With only a few exceptions, adult dogs can and do bond well with new owners, especially a dog that has been previously neglected. These dogs can bond with you so tightly that they become your "shadow" and can show you what true devotion really means. Contrary to popular belief, adult dogs can readily be trained! Dogs can learn at any age, and adult dogs have a longer attention span than do either young puppies or adolescents.

Remember, you will get as much out of your dog as you put into it.