Hello. I have a 20 month granddaughter that is at my house most of the time. I had to put down my shih tzu who was only 7 years old last year because of a throat obstruction we could not afford to have fixed. I”m now aching for another dog. I am 60 years old.
My questions would be am I crazy to start raising a puppy at my age? And secondly, I have to have a small non shedding dog that is good and tolerant of toddlers. I have researched til I am blue in the face. I was so surprised to see the shih tzu not being very tolerant of children. Do you have any advice you could give me?
Thank you for reaching out to us. I am sorry to hear you lost your precious baby last year. It’s great though that you are now ready to open your heart and home to another dog. As you may already know, dogs make wonderful companions that enrich our lives and even provide many health benefits. Of course, these great benefits are reaped mostly when the selected companion makes a good match for our lifestyle and activity levels.
To answer your question, no, you aren’t crazy to want to start raising a puppy at your age – but we’ll have to take a look at several factors to ensure we’re prepared to deal with several “puppy issues.” Puppies are adorable bundles of joy, but they pose some challenges. When a senior asks me about raising puppies, I evaluate several factors.
Factors to Consider Before Getting a Puppy
- Is mobility an issue? Puppies need to learn the ABC’s of potty training and this means that accidents will happen. Bending down frequently to clean up messes will be at the order of the day until the puppy attains better bladder and bowel control and is trained to ask to go outdoors when nature calls.
- Do you have fast reflexes? Young puppies may need to be taken out as often as every hour, and in order to train them to potty outside, you’ll need to have an eagle eye so to recognize the puppy’s pre-potty signs, have good hearing so to attend to whining or barking at the door and be fast enough to take the puppy out before he eliminates on the floor.
- Are you on blood thinners? Puppies can also be quite nippy. Seniors tend to have thinner skin and those who take blood thinners are even more likely to have problems with wounds caused by those sharp puppy teeth. If your skin tears and bruises easily this can be a problem.
- How active are you? You will have to take your puppy outside to meet the world and begin the socialization process. Your pup will also depend on you to meet this exercise needs.
- Do you have family and friends willing to take care of the puppy if at some point you’re short on patience or can no longer take care of him?
If you feel you’re up for the task, have loads of patience and have raised a puppy before, the pup will sure benefit from getting lots of attention that only those who are retired have the luxury to do. There are several seniors who enjoy raising a puppy, but consider as well that there are also several seniors who find it frustrating, debilitating and stressful. For the latter case, what’s left to do?
Dog trainer Jan Manning suggests getting an older dog. She claims: “Older dogs are good for lowering blood pressure; puppies tend to heighten it.” With older dogs there are fewer chances for surprises when it comes to temperament.
The Shih-Tzu is generally tolerant of children, but toddlers may pose many problems to several dogs, even the child-friendly ones. The problem is that to most toddlers a puppy or dog is the equivalent of a mobile stuffed animal. If toddlers enjoy pulling at the Shih-Tzu’s luxurious coat, ears or tail causing pain, it’s normal for the shih-Tzu (or any other dog) to resent their company.
According to Dog Channel “Even a tolerant Shih Tzu can be expected to stand only so much.” So is Shih-Tzu not good with children? Not necessarily. The truth is that it depends. The American Shih Tzu Club claims: if you have small children and want a Shih Tzu, you might be better off getting an older dog or a larger breed or waiting until your children grow up a bit.” Children must be taught to handle the dog with the utmost care and close supervision is always a must. There are several child-friendly dog breeds that tend to not shed much. The shih-Tzu is one of them, but so are Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs and Bichon Frise’. A reputable breeder or rescue should work with you to match you up with the best companion.