Keep Your Dog Active: Physically and Mentally

As the years pass, it’s more important than ever to keep your older dog active, yet the opposite seems to happen! As our dogs age, many of us get a bit lazy about keeping them active.

I guess we figure that they’re happier just lying in their bed sleeping, so we leave them to it.

Trips to the dog park have dwindled, and you can’t remember the last time you taught him to do a trick.

Time to stop that right now! They’re old but still here, and if you want to keep them here as long as possible, some physical and mental stimulation can be a big help.

Let’s get cracking and start figuring out how you’re going to keep your older dog active, physically and mentally.

Exercise

red-wearing-her-raincoat

Just because your dog can’t run like she used to, doesn’t mean it’s an all or nothing deal. Don’t tell me she doesn’t get a bit depressed sitting around the house! Okay, she’s not jogging with you anymore, but she’d probably still like a walk. Just watch your pace! Let her enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. Bring along a dog stroller, so when she’s had enough she can be wheeled home in style.

She may not be chasing balls anymore, but how about a game of tug?

Did she love to play with her doggie friends, but now she’s in isolation because she’s slowed down? Invite some “calm” dogs over to play, or arrange to meet somewhere. I bet she misses them!!

If your dog really has a hard time walking, keep it short and sweet. How about taking her swimming? It’s great exercise, easy on the joints, and perfect for a dog with arthritis.

Teach your old dog new tricks

the importance of mental stimulation for old dogs

  • Not only do senior dogs needs physical exercise, but they also need mental stimulation to try and stave off cognitive cognitive decline, not to mention protecting them from depression and boredom.
  • Set up mini training sessions, teach her tricks she already knows, and come up with a few new ones.
  • Surprise her with new toys, but give her only one at a time, make them last.
  • Try some interactive or puzzle toys – hide treats your dog has to find, by moving levers or sliding open little doors.
  • Buy her a rubber toy and stuff it with some tasty treats, or part of her meal. It will take her longer to eat, and keep her busy figuring out how to get it all out!
  • I assume you have always had a routine for your dog, but if you haven’t now is the time to start. A predictable schedule will help reduce anxiety and confusion.
  • Hide healthy treats around the yard, and let her figure out how to find them. It will keep her mentally stimulated, and give her some exercise, at her pace.
  • Take her travelling or on day trips. Let her see and experience new things.

So it’s decided!! Help your dog stay active and you’ll improve your dog’s quality of life, and yours.

What are you doing to keep your older dog active physically and mentally? We’d love to hear your helpful ideas so please leave them in the comment section below or my Facebook page.

 

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Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

10 Comments

  1. Jason

    Every real dog lover should take a read at this post to help to keep old dogs active and happy as can be.

    I do not have a dog but I to see the importance of making sure that a dog or any other pet gets some form of exercise and exposure even thought they are declining with age.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~Jason.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hello Jason, thank you for your comment. I agree, every dog lover should read this. Unfortunately many people don’t realise no matter the age of the dog, they all need some form of physical activity and mental stimulation.

      Reply
  2. Rod

    Another valuable post for me and my older dog! I’ve been working with her, and she’s almost to the point where she wants to run and play! I’m excited about that! Thanks again for your posts, they’re extremely helpful!!! 😀

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Rod, thank you for commenting and sharing that with me. I’m so glad you find these posts helpful, that’s my aim with this site.

      Reply
  3. Dinh

    Thanks for sharing this reminder to all dog owners. Exercise and Mental stimulation is just as important for dogs as people.
    I would agree with you on gentle exercise such as a walk. You can kill two birds with one stone with a nice walk. Both dog and dog owner gets exercise and being in a different environment will stimulate the brain. Wouldn’t you agree that you also get to spend some quality time with your dog? Throw a ball for your dog to fetch, how hard is that?
    Enjoy your dog!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Dinh, Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It’s definitely true that taking your senior dog out and about, even if it’s just for short walks, can provide some mental stimulation, and is a great way to bond with your dog. Many seniors may not be able to play fetch anymore, but there’s still lots of activities they can take part in to get their bodies moving and keep their brains alert.

      Reply
  4. Carol

    Aw, so great that you are bringing awareness to the needs of senior dogs. It’s so important to a dog’s health to keep them active no matter what their age. And, the more people interact with their dogs, the closer the bond, and that’s an amazing thing! Love your article! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Carol, thanks very much for your comment, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Senior dogs are my passion, what can I say? I just love them. I wish more people understood the importance of physical exercise and mental stimulation for the health and wellbeing of their dog, no matter what age they are (the dog that is!!)

      Reply
  5. Ido

    Great post!
    It’s a subject not many people talk about, and every dog lover runs into.
    I have sinned myself with my dog when he got old.
    I was actually thinking he was happier sleeping on the rug than playing.

    Are there any specific tricks that are better for older dogs to do?

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Ido, thanks for taking the time to comment. When it comes to physical exercise with older dogs, the key is to only go at their pace. My senior also seems to be happiest when in her bed, but when we do go out I make sure she spends time having a good sniff, and I let her walk just not too far, or too quickly. Better to take them more often for shorter outings. As far as mental stimulation, the same holds true – whatever they’re able to do. Rolling over may be too difficult a trick for some, but perhaps they can still give you their paw. Interactive toys are good because if they’re more comfortable sitting, or lying down, any position works.

      Reply

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