If you aren’t prepared to go through the trials and training of a baby puppy, an older puppy or even a mature dog can be a good alternative, especially in households in which the family pet may have to spend much of the day unsupervised. Goldens are very adaptable and a Golden Retriever of any age with a good temperament can become a member of the family in a very short time. There are many reasons that older dogs are available.
Breeders often hold a puppy until it is old enough to determine its show or breeding potential; a brood bitch that has been bred once or twice is retired; or circumstances change and the breeder is helping someone place a much-loved pet they have had to part with. The reasons are myriad, but whatever they may be, the grown dog is available. He is housebroken, knows many commands, and has formed many behavior patterns. If the dog has been loved and well taken care of, he will continue to give love and devotion to his new owners. Never be hesitant to take an outgoing, good-natured older dog into your home. Although it may be confused initially, patience, consistency, and reassurance are the key words. The dog’s self-confidence will return, and it will adapt readily to your routine.
The Joy of an Older Golden
Try to find out all that you can about the older dog that you are considering, so that you can determine if his temperament is compatible with yours. Learn as much as possible about his habits, daily routine, likes and dislikes, diet and past history. It is important that all family members meet the dog before its adoption and agree that this is the dog they want.
It is best to acquire the dog when the household member with primary responsibility for the dog’s care and training will be at home full time for the first few days. Time must be taken to make clear that the dog knows where it is to sleep, relieve itself, where and when it will eat, and what it can and cannot do in the house. In short, it has to learn the routine it will be following and what is expected of it. If you rescue a mistreated or abandoned Golden Retriever through a Golden Retriever Club Referral/Rescue Service or a humane society and give it your affection, it will reward you with eternal love and gratitude. These dogs may well be of unknown background and bring you a few more problems than those with a more favorable history, but the rewards can be great.
Rescue organizations also have senior goldens who have been abandoned because of advanced age or a death in the family. If you feel you cannot take on a 10–12-year puppy commitment, but would enjoy a devoted, slower-moving companion for several months to several years, please consider adopting a golden oldie.