Old Person Young Dog

Age is catching up on me fast.

A couple of months ago I went to see a lady who described herself on the phone as a pensioner. She sounded elderly (it turned out she was younger than me).

I have been thinking about this Paws for a while. I have four dogs who are slowly ageing with me.

Even though I am still very fit and active, I could never consider having a puppy again, not least because I would probably ‘park up’ as they say in New Zealand before the dog. (Never again that lovely puppy smell, the cuddles and the multiple trips outside).

‘Small’ not ‘lazy’.

Older people too often get very unsuitable dogs. They think ‘small’ rather than ‘lazy’.

Small dogs are so often bred to be busy.

What about a sofa-loving rescue adult greyhound for laziness (providing he’s not got the kind of prey drive that means he pulls the lady over at the sight of a cat)?

The lady I went to lives alone. She has a 15-week-old Cavapoo puppy – the most gorgeous little thing I have ever seen.

Getting up out of her chair was visibly uncomfortable for her. She walked carefully. Understandably, her way of dealing with puppy was to try to direct operations from her chair.

As we get older, it’s very likely we like our surroundings to be better organised and tidy and  puppy leaving our papers and slippers alone.

Shouting ‘No’ merely fired him up more. It didn’t tell him what he should be doing. He became frustrated and wild and then he became rough.

The poor lady was being jumped at and grabbed, her clothes torn and the thin skin on her hands damaged by the little sharp teeth. He had already chewed through one leash while she held it at arm’s length to protect herself as he spun around with it in his mouth.

What he badly needed was appropriate stimulation.

Enlisting help

This lady is, however, now proving that it is possible for a less-active older person to give a puppy a fulfilling life.

It’s a question of planning and management, including enlisting other people.

The lady is now providing her energetic and playful puppy with a lot of enrichment in the form of chewing and digging opportunities. He destroys a box of rubbish in the search for little biscuits and has a sand pit with buried bones and toys in the garden.

A dog walker calls daily so he can walk and play with a couple of other small, young dogs. Family help her too.

When someone has less energy to put into occupying puppy, who can’t move fast when necessary, an older dog would be the wise choice.

An older dog

An unpalatable truth that I will myself be facing is that if we get a puppy, most likely that puppy will become an orphan eventually – one of the many lovely older dogs whose owners can no longer care for them. See Oldies Club. Adopting one of these dogs would be a far wiser choice. Great for both the dog and the elderly person.


About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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6 Responses to Old Person Young Dog

  1. Lyn says:

    Great post as always Theo

    Being a pensioner and having recently got a pup myself I know exactly how exhausting they can be! Fortunately I am pretty fit, sufficient to walk her twice a day and take her to obedience and trick training classes. Now, at a year old, she is starting to calm down but she is a terrier and may live to be in her 20s (I do hope so) so could outlive me. Fortunately I know she will go back to the rescue who let me have her. I keep in regular contact with them and post about all the things she does on their re-homers page so I’m pretty sure there will be people wanting to offer her a home, should the worst happen.

    I would however urge everyone with a dog to make good provision, with a fall-back plan, for it should they become unable to care for it. We recently lost a member of a group I belong to. He really believed he had made provision for his 6yr old but it fell through. Having shared all the dogs exploits over the years he was much loved and everyone pulled out all the stops and we have got him a new forever home but he could have ended up as a rescue

    Thanks again for another good, thought provoking, article


  2. Susan Ward says:

    Absolutely! You completely forget what it is like to experience puppyhood. After always having large dogs we decided to change to a smaller dog due to getting older. Get a pug they said! Pugs are quiet and docile they said! Wrong! Not ours. He is the most boisterous dog we have ever experienced. He is a whirlwind and quick as lightening. He is a dare devil and gets himself ‘stuck’ in dangerous situations climbing and jumping all over the show. It won’t be long now before I can’t keep him off the dining table. He is also a frenzed sharp toothed little ogre. Very bright, always one step ahead. We love him to bits but we are warn to a frazzle! We have short memories but one thing I do know is that I am embracing every moment because a few years from now I will see tiredness where I once saw energy and I will wish with all my heart I could have these days back again.


  3. Lyn says:

    Great description Susan, they are soooo quick and so curious but the manic part does pass eventually and you will be so pleased that you stuck it out. My terrier pup Alice is now a year and will even choose to lie down and rest without being put in her crate or playpen bless her!


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