Monday, April 13, 2009

Seniors Get More Than Companionship from their Dogs

Joan Enjoys Helping Oliver and Jacque
Learn Socialization Skills
About 6 months ago my mother adopted a Papillon puppy whose owner could no longer take care of him. Never having trained a puppy, she has had her hands full with so many things to learn.
Socialization is at the top of her list, thank goodness, and little Jacque is learning well. She visits the dog park with him regularly and he has proven to be a confident and well-mannered playmate for most of the dogs. He is still working on his vocalization, though. That's a nice way of saying that he needs to bark a bit less.

The many challenges of a new puppy have given mom a new sense of purpose in her life, and she is enjoying this immensely. Many senior citizens who are able to care for a pet, find that this responsibility breathes new life and energy into their days. A host of new tasks and challenges await and each one is a new adventure.

With many dogs available for adoption through shelters, at little cost to the owner, a senior citizen, on a fixed income can often afford to adopt a smaller dog, whose food requirements will be considerably less than my 4-cup-a-day Golden Retriever. A minimum investment of a crate and vaccinations necessary for good health can bring a lonely person a sense of importance in their new job of nurturing a dog.

Adopting a mature dog can often mean that the task of house-training is already accomplished. Even more, that puppy hood trait of chewing everything in sight is often also a thing of the past. With a daily walk, adult dogs can find happiness with a new owner who gives them the appropriate discipline, rules and finally...affection.

The latter is good for both dog and owner, but the whole package is necessary for a dog to become a bonded member of the new family. Take the lead and show your furry friend the boundaries of his new home, and he will become a good companion.

For a bit more information on bringing home a new family member, I like this DVD by Cesar Millan. His approach involves more leadership than training, and is very no-nonsense. Good luck!


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