Puppy or older dog

Puppy or older dog: advantages and disadvantages

Puppy, young dog or an already adult furry nose - what suits you best? This is not a decision to be made lightly. Here is some food for thought to help you decide.


The advantages of a puppy seem clear: If you get a puppy, the imprinting and upbringing of the puppy is in your hands. Being able to train the dog the way you want is great. And with their cuddly looks, they immediately have you wrapped around their finger. Be angry for long? That doesn't work when they look at you expectantly with their googly eyes. And poof, there they are, the parenting mistakes. It's easy to forget that a puppy doesn't always stay small and needs a clear structure even in the first phase. Puppies are more work than you might think at first. We will explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of a puppy.

Advantages of a puppy

  • Intensive bonding from puppyhood
  • your dog grows into your family from the start
  • If the puppy comes to you from a responsible breeder at 12 weeks, it may already have some skills and valuable behaviours.
  • You can influence and control your puppy's behaviour.

Disadvantages of a puppy

  • If your puppy is not yet house trained, you will have to take him out every 2-3 hours at night.
  • A lot of training is required
  • perseverance and patience are essential
  • You have to be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Your puppy cannot be left alone yet

Importance of the socialisation phase

Many breeders hand over their puppies to their new owners between the eighth and twelfth week of life. From the eighth week onwards, the socialisation phase begins, lasting about four weeks, during which the puppy learns how to interact with other animals and people, as well as how to cope with stress. The behaviour the puppy learns in this phase will shape it for the rest of its life. Therefore, the puppy should be accustomed to environmental stimuli during this phase. This can be done at the breeder in the familiar environment of the pack with the mother or already in the new home. If you take the puppy in later, it may already have learned some skills that you can build on with your training. If the puppy comes to you at an early age, this responsibility is yours. In return, you can begin to bond with your new family member sooner.

Challenges with a puppy in the first weeks

In this formative phase, the puppy should make social contact with people and other dogs in appropriate proportions, and get to know everyday situations. These include, for example:

  • Guests coming to visit
  • Driving a car
  • Vacuuming
  • Moving on slippery floors

Situations like these should be practised daily so that your puppy gets used to them, learns appropriate behaviour and is no longer stressed by them.

The right behaviour towards a puppy

Your new roommate is coming from a familiar world with his mother, siblings, familiar surroundings and familiar people into a completely new environment: a new home, new smells, and usually no peers. The little pelt-noses learn a lot during this time and soak up many impressions like a sponge. This is demanding and can also lead to excessive demands. Therefore, it is your responsibility to always keep an attentive eye on the new addition to the family and to find a balance between rest and educational everyday situations so that he is not overtaxed. Overstimulation, incomprehensible actions, wrong signals or lack of attention irritate the puppy. Unwelcome consequences are misbehaviour, insecurity or even aggression. How your puppy deals with visitors in the future, for example, depends above all on how you make him feel secure in this situation and train him to behave appropriately. If you succeed in doing this in puppyhood, he will be able to deal with unknown visitors in a relaxed way at your side in the future.

Adult dog

Shelters are overflowing with discarded and orphaned dogs. Old dogs have a hard time being placed. If you want to assess whether the shaggy terrier with the loyal eyes and the grey muzzle from the shelter could be your new companion, it helps if you can find out as much as possible about the four-legged friend's previous history. This way you can draw conclusions about how socialised and trained the dog is and how much training is needed for this adult animal.

Advantages of an adult dog

  • If it has been given away from loving and responsible hands, it is probably resilient and familiar with everyday situations.
  • the character is already pronounced and solidified
  • adult dogs are usually house trained
  • basic commands are mostly known
  • depending on character and phase of life, less attention and time is needed than is initially the case with a puppy
  • are easier to assess than puppies who are still developing
  • can at best already stay alone

Disadvantages of an adult dog

  • Shelter dogs or dogs from rescues with unknown or tragic histories need a lot of care, training, encouragement and often experienced hands.
  • bonding with adult dogs can be more difficult than with unprejudiced puppies, depending on their history and level of experience
  • if the older animals or seniors are insecure or fearful, a new environment can cause them to "forget" to be house-trained due to stress.
  • some training is also necessary with adult dogs
  • limitations and illnesses increase with age

A special challenge: dogs with bad experiences

Older dogs can usually be found in animal shelters or in foster homes of animal rescues, where the animals are temporarily housed with private dog lovers. Often, these animals have already had to go through a lot of experience and therefore sometimes exhibit established misbehaviour. With a lot of training and perseverance or professional help, for example from experienced dog therapists or behavioural trainers, even older animals can still be positively influenced. In addition, you should bear in mind that the four-legged friends are quickly overwhelmed, even by your well-intentioned attention. If your dog has had bad experiences with people, he will be reluctant at first. In this case, patience is needed until your new family member seeks contact and takes the first step.

Senior dogs with special needs

Depending on breed and character, older dogs can also be very active. If they are no longer so agile, intelligence games are a good activity to keep them fit. If the adult dog is already a senior, its resting phases increase significantly and it sleeps a lot. With decreasing physical fitness, health restrictions and old age diseases also increase. Therefore, a senior dog may at times require as much time as a young dog and your care and attention may be needed.

Conclusion: Puppy or adult dog?

Before deciding to adopt or buy a dog, you should take a close look at your own living situation: What is your home environment like? Do you spend a lot of time away from home? You can read more about this in our article "Getting a dog: 10 questions to ask before buying a dog".

In general, however, no matter whether you have a puppy or an adult dog: especially as a beginner, you need to read up on all relevant topics related to dog ownership, from the needs of your four-legged friend of any age to training and health issues. You can find out which type of dog suits you in the report: "Spoilt for choice - which type of dog suits me".

Our tip: Take the time you need to make a decision, because it will affect your life on all levels. And regardless of whether you end up with a quiet senior or a lively bundle of fur that will turn your life upside down - an exciting time awaits you!

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