Adopting An Old Dog

Adopting An Older Dog: Points to Consider

Question from Ann, Eau Claire, WI

We are considering adopting an old dog, a 10 year old Cocker Spaniel. What issues should we be faced with? How can we make it a smooth transition? 

Golden cocker spaniel, Max, taking a swim to cool down.

The current owners are getting rid of her because they say she wants more attention as she gets older and that when they leave her alone for more than 10 hours she acts out by pooping.

Adopting An Older Dog
By: Pauline

Hello Ann, 

You're adopting an old dog, a cocker spaniel...well, good for you! One less homeless pooch to worry about. 

As for specific potential issues that anyone adopting an older dog may face, it's always best to speak to the adoption center. They will most likely know the full background of the dog in question and will understand the problems that a prospective owner may face.

They will also be able to give you sound advice on managing any particular 'behavioural problems' the dog may have, if any.

If the adoption centre is certain that the reasons the previous owners gave for giving her up are true, it sounds like you don't have much to worry about, especially if you have plenty of time to devote to her.

I've listed a few points to consider before adopting an old dog and some things to help you get your new Cocker Spaniel settled into her new home quickly and smoothly.

Understand Why The Dog Is In An Adoption Center

Anyone considering adopting an old dog will need to consider why the dog has ended up in a rescue center and how long they've been there

For example, if the owner was elderly and has passed away, there's a good chance that the dog would be properly socialized and fully house-trained, with no or very little problems. The same would apply if the family had moved and was unable to take their pet with them, for whatever reason. 

However, if the Cocker had been with many different owners and is once again in the rescue, there may be many behavioral problems to contend with, but as I said earlier, it doesn't sound like you've anything to worry about.

Issues To Watch Out For When Adopting An Old Dog

When adopting an old dog, you might like to think about things from the dog's viewpoint:

  • S/He suddenly finds himself in strange and unfamiliar environment.
  • S/He will probably miss his previous family.
  • S/He may have had a traumatic time before he arrived at the center.

All or any of these situations will create stress and/or anxiety for him. We can try to remove the stress by keeping the house quiet and bond with him as quickly as possible. 

Things You Can Do To Help Your New Cocker Spaniel

When Adopting an Old Dog, Preparation Is Key

Prepare the house for when you bring your cocker spaniel home;

  • put her bed where it's going to stay,
  • set out her food and water bowl,
  • decide where she's to do her toilet in your yard or garden,
  • make sure your home is totally dog proofed. 

You've probably already bought the basics, such as food, a lead and collar, toys, a crate (if you're going to crate her) and a identity tag.

Before you bring her home, I suggest you register with a vet, so that if there's an emergency, you'll know the ropes.

Keep Her First Few Days Quiet and Calm

There are a few things you can do to help her get used to her new home and family: 

  • keep the house quiet and calm and let her settle in gently.

  • Show her the spot in the garden that you've chosen for her toilet and take her for a little walk around the neighborhood to let her get her bearings.

  • Introduce her to her food and water bowls and her bed. Let her wander around and get used to her new home.

  • Sit with her for a while. Talk to her quietly and stroke her to help reassure her and help you both to bond.

  • If you have children, try to stop them from getting too excited (I know, it's easier said than done!) but ask them to be gentle with her. 

  • You might like to let her sleep in your bedroom (in her own bed) for the first few nights.

If all goes well, you should see her settled in nicely by the end of the week.

Summary: Adopting An Old Dog

Whilst I believe all dogs should get used to being on their own for a while, I think that leaving her alone for 10 hours at a time (as her previous owners did) is far too long.

I'm not surprised she's pooping indoors and attention seeking! Poor mite.

Following the advice above will help her to settle in and to bond with you.  

Give her the attention she needs (on your own terms of course) and don't leave her alone for too long. Do this and I don't think you'll have any problems; you will see her toilet habits improve and she'll settle down nicely.

Good luck and I sincerely hope you enjoy your new cocker spaniel!

Visitor Comments: Adopting An Old Dog

Leaving A Dog Alone
By: Joseph 

If you're thinking of adopting this cocker spaniel I recommend you have lots of time to devote to her. This writer of this article is right, 10 hours is far too long to leave a dog on its own.

And when you do need to go out, if you can't take her with you, it's best if she's exercised first so that she can do her 'business' and will be relaxed while you're gone and will probably sleep most of the time.

Leave her some toys, some water, and maybe a radio playing so she feels she's got company.

If you really need to be out all day, Pauline recommends asking a neighbor to pop in and walk the dog or play with it for a few minutes.

Hope I've helped.

Cocker Spaniel Pooping
By: Anonymous 

Well, if that's all she's doing I don't think she's acting out at all. Poor thing. Of course she's going to poop or pee if left alone for that length of time, especially as her 'plumbing' is 10 years old.

I think leaving any dog alone for 10 hours is cruel. Imagine being alone every day for that length of time. It must be terrible for her.

As for wanting more attention as she gets older, why not? What's wrong with wanting a cuddle?

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