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  • Cara Ryckman

Adding an Adult Dog to your Family

We have added several adults to our family over the years, and some of these have been absolute favorites of our family. Some people have concerns that an adult won't bond like a puppy, and that's just not the case. Our beloved Daphne came to us as an adult. For some families, an adult is just better - you can possibly find a retiring show dog who is well socialized, friendly, well housetrained and already walking on a leash or doing other commands or tricks. Yes, there are some dogs who will not be well socialized, or even housetrained. You need to have that same great relationship with your breeder or seller, and find someone who will be honest about the dog's strengths and weaknesses.


Be very honest with yourself on what you want. Are you going to be sad you missed out on the puppyhood chapter? Or will it be a blessing to have a dog that you won't have to go through the housetraining and chewing stages? If the dog has some things to work on, will you have time to do that? Would you be willing to?


When you meet the potential dog, if you are going to the breeder or seller's house, the way we have found works best is have a family member who the dog likes sit on the couch holding the dog. The prospective owner is given some treats the dog likes, and sits right next to the person holding the dog. The dog is fed and talked to. When the dog relaxes, the dog moves over to the prospective owner's lap and the same thing occurs - feeding and talking and petting.


Don't be upset or concerned if you see different reactions in the dog when you arrive than the owner has described as the dog's normal temperament. A Chihuahua is going to react differently to strangers than to his family. It takes a little longer for the dog to adjust than it would if this were a baby puppy. If the dog does have a more aloof or shy temperament, or if the dog has had previous bad experiences, it may take even longer.


If you do not have the ability to meet the dog at the breeder or seller's home, and the dog is going to arrive at your house with a puppy nanny, give the dog some decompression time in an ex pen. If dog is in a crate and doesn't want to come out, just open crate door and go about your business talking to the dog and giving treats. Don't force it or rush it. Do not put a dog outside with no leash where you do not really have a relationship with the dog - you may not catch him. Do what the breeder or seller suggested for potty time - if dog is used to pee pads, do not switch to something else immediately. Let the dog get used to one big change at a time.


We placed a girl who is friendly and loving with our family, and the family who purchased her were awesome folks - they were prepared to stay longer and work with her when they arrived, knowing an adult can have some challenges. I was surprised when this friendly loving girl growled at her new people. The people were not deterred, they were patient and hung out for AWHILE working through it. By the end of the visit, she was sitting in both of their laps eating her favorite lunch meat. By that evening she was in their bed sleeping with them and day 2 they were HER family. They had a wonderful bond with this girl as part of their family after those first couple of days.


A dog may be different in your home than he or she was at the breeder's or seller's. If the breeder or seller has a number of dogs, and the dog is going into a home where there is only one other dog or no other dogs, he or she can show a completely different personality. Some dogs do not shine in large multi dog homes, and do much better as one of one or two dogs.


Every home is not the right home for every adult. The FIT is still very important for the happiness of the dog and the family.

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