• Old dogs..New Tricks…

  • Old age...it (hopefully) happens for most of us including our beloved furkids. You may start to notice the little things, like they dont run as fast as the used to, they are a bit slower getting up or down, arthritis may be showing its ugly head, lumps and bumps appear, signs of hearing loss, spending more time sleeping and so on.  This is actually a really wonderful time knowing that you have been able to share your dog's life from the heady juvenile times of doing things they shouldnt, sometimes hilarious, sometimes not, watching as they grow into a wonderful adult and companion and then as they progress towards their senior years.

    This is a time to cherish and also one of continued learning and patience (especially for us as guardians).  Just because they're getting old doesn't mean their life enjoyment should stop, it just becomes a chance to do the 'old' things differently, look for new ways to continue to enrich their lives and yours. 

    One of the most important things you can do as a guardian is to keep your dog fit, flexible and mobile, you know what they say, if you dont use it , you lose it.  As we age our muscle does begin to decline and dogs are no different, whilst we cant stop the clock, by helping your dog stay fit and mobile we can definitely slow down the process or make it more pleasant.

    Think about the things they love doing (or used to ) how can you offer the same in a different way? for example: going for a walk, maybe its slower or your dog cant manage more the 20-30 mins (or less)...take them for a drive some where new to explore rather than walking there first, really let the walk be about them and not your time schedule, encourage sniffing (and weeing), let them decide the walk, this may mean you spend 10 minutes sniffing out some grass and a couple of trees,  instead of fetch (if they arent able) play hide and seek (putting treats in a toy,eg Kong) hiding things around the yard (or inside) for your dog to find (their noses still work extremely well),  change 'catch the ball', to catch the bubbles, all these things still engage the mind and body and are fun for you and your dog!

    Another fantastic and different outlet is to introduce your dog to proprioception (balance and awareness). Proprioception is fantastic for helping with flexibility and muscle strength and there are many different exercises and activities that are suitable and fun for seniors and their people to do, as they both get to learn new things together.  

    Do provide enriching activities for your dog to do with and without you - for some ideas go to the  'enrichment article' and click the link for a few home made DIY ideas. 

    The little picture shown here is of our beautiful old man, Olly who has just had his 16th birthday, pretty good going for a large dog!!!  He is partaking in some very easy proprioception exercises, using low steps and mats.  Its a lovely slow activity, no rushing, encourages him to use muscles (which helps maintain his muscle mass), think about his foot placement, balance and coordination, provides him the benefit of exercise and engages his mind and he lets him do the same things as the younger dogs, just modified to suit him and his abilities