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Why dogs can be better than puppies

The holiday season is approaching. This is frequently when people decide to get a new dog. Often, their preference is for a puppy. It’s easy to see why. Puppies are cute and cuddly. It’s also much easier to get exactly the breed of dog they want.

People also seem to think that raising a dog from puppyhood creates a stronger bond with the humans in the pack. This makes sense from a human perspective. Most of the time, our strongest lifelong bonds are with the parents who raised us and the siblings we grew up with.

But there are downsides to getting a puppy, and we see the results in statistics at shelters. Most dogs that are surrendered by their owners are around one to one-and-a-half years old. Why? Because bringing a puppy into the pack is not always the best option.

That cute little bundle of fur may not be so cute anymore when it starts to get more curious and assertive. This is when they may nip people, destroy household items, and become destructive if the human pack hasn’t done its job right.

What it takes to raise a puppy
In order to raise a puppy properly, you have to invest a lot of time. The younger a puppy is, the more time it takes. Unless you have somebody to be there for the puppy every hour of the day, you’re going to have issues — either now or later on.

Energy level should come first
While people may chose a puppy to get a particular breed, what’s more important is the dog’s energy level. Unless you know exactly what to look for to determine how a puppy will behave as an adult, you’ll probably end up with the wrong dog.

I’ve seen it many times. A family looks at a new litter and immediately falls for the one puppy that runs right up to them. Guess what? That’s the one that will become the assertive, dominant, high-energy dog — the kind that takes even more work and is even more likely to end up in a shelter.

This leaves the stronger bond argument, but that one is easy to dismiss because it’s based on human and not dog psychology. A dog’s strongest bond is with whomever is their Pack Leader right now: the human who fulfills the dog’s needs.

Adopt, don’t shop
There are countless dogs like that in shelters right now. If you’re considering getting a dog during the holidays, or any time, that’s the place to start, once you get over the myths about shelter dogs.

Shelters have awesome dogs!
The first and biggest myth is that shelter dogs have something wrong with them — if not a problem behavior that put them there, then some disease they caught there. In the former case, the problem is almost always the humans who did not fulfill the dog’s needs. The dogs never had issues. Their people did.

In the latter case, while dogs may catch a disease, most shelters provide treatment, provide spay and neuter services, make sure dogs are free of fleas and ticks, and often also give out vouchers for a reduced-cost vet visit. Dogs in shelters frequently receive better medical treatment than puppies in pet shops.

Dogs live in the moment
Another myth is that you’ll never know the dog’s full story. My answer to this one is simple: Why would you need to? Knowing exactly how a dog was treated before it got to the shelter can be bad for humans, because we have a hard time letting go. When someone doesn’t let go and adopts a dog they know was abused, their tendency can be to feel pity for the dog. Pity is a weak energy state and prevents you from being a Pack Leader.

The joys of adopting an older dog
The third and biggest myth is that shelter dogs are too old to train. In fact, a lot of them may already be trained, they just aren’t balanced. With the proper leadership, you can quickly have the joys of a balanced dog without any of the problems of raising an unruly puppy.

Besides being much easier to bring into a household, shelter dogs have a lot of other benefits. For one thing, they will always associate you with a bad, scary situation ending, so they can bond just as strongly and be as loyal as a puppy, if not more so. Another great thing about shelter dogs is that each one of them is unique.

But the best thing about shelter dogs is this: they not only give you the opportunity to save their lives — they allow you to save the lives of other dogs by leaving space behind in the shelter when you rescue them.

If you’re thinking about bringing a new dog into your pack, just remember: Adult dogs are just as cute and adorable as puppies, but a lot less trouble.

Stay calm and adopt, don’t shop.

Don’t miss Cesar this Friday, November 6, on The Daily Share on HLN, between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. PST. Check your local listings for details!

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