Studies show that having a pet can bring both emotional and health benefits to the elderly. But for many seniors, the fear of not being able to provide the proper care, training and exercise may keep them from experiencing the joy of dog ownership.
To help, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips for seniors to match the right breed with their lifestyle.
Where you live
• Small apartments are suitable for toy breeds or small members of the hound and non-sporting groups. Rural settings with lots of space are ideal for large breeds because they need room to exercise.
• If you want your dog to cuddle, sit on the couch or sleep on the bed with you, smaller breeds are most suitable. Toy breeds love to be on their owner’s lap and to curl up under the covers at bedtime.
• Active seniors will enjoy a breed from the working, hound and sporting groups. Herding breeds love the outdoors. If you’re looking for a specific activity to do with your dog, it’s important to take that into consideration when deciding on a breed.
• Less active seniors will enjoy a breed from the toy or non-sporting group. These breeds need minimal exercise and are ideal for short walks or a small fenced-in yard.
Who you live with
• You should consider how many people live in your home and if you have grandchildren or other frequent visitors. If you have several people living in your home or regular visitors, then you should get a breed that is sociable.
• Many herding breeds make great family dogs and love meeting new people. Most toy and non-sporting breeds were bred for companionship and crave attention. This isn't to say that other breeds wouldn't make great family companions. With proper socialization and training, any dog can be an ideal family dog.
Amount of travel
• If you travel often or prefer to take your dog on errands with you, then a small breed is for you. Toy breeds are small enough to fit in travel carriers, so they are more apt to receive a friendly response from managers and employees at stores, hotels and other travel destinations.
• Small dogs can accompany travelers on airplanes as carry-on baggage, while large dogs must stay in the cargo hold, which is not temperature-controlled.
How to obtain a dog
• Once you have narrowed your selection to a few breeds, the AKC suggests meeting a few dogs in person. Attend a dog show or consult dog-owning friends and neighbors to get a clear picture of what responsible dog ownership requires and to find out more about different breeds. AKC’s Marketplace can help you find responsible breeders in your area who are members of AKC clubs as well as affiliated breed rescue groups that have dogs for adoption in your area©2021 American Kennel Club. Visit at akc.org. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC