Just like humans, dogs experience the effects of aging.
Dogs enter their golden years somewhere between the ages of 7 and 11, depending on their breed and size.
Every dog experiences the effects of aging differently, but that doesn’t mean their life can’t be just as exciting as it is for their younger counterparts!
Your senior dog might look like he’s sleepy all the time, but they might actually just be bored.
It can get tough, however, to know how to keep your aging dog’s life exciting while still accounting for the changes their body has gone through.
But, fear not!
Whether your dog has arthritis, or their hearing or sight is starting to fade, we have 5 tips that will help you help your dog get the most out of their golden years.
Engage Their Mind
One of the best ways to enrich a dog’s life, regardless of their age, is to provide them with mental stimulation.
This is especially important with senior dogs, who are more prone to cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Stimulating your dog’s mind can look like many things, such as light training, scavenger hunts, or puzzle games.
One of the best tools for senior dog enrichment can be a snuffle mat.
Kongs and puzzle games are great as well, but a snuffle mat puts a bit less stress on your dogs body.
One other easy tip to keep home life more exciting for your dog is to rotate their toys.
If they have stopped immediately destroying their toys, and consequently have a lot of them now, try putting some of them away for a week.
The next week, swap the toys you put up with the toys you left out. This is such an easy way to add some variety to your dog’s life.
Exercise Their Body
It’s true, senior dogs don’t need as much physical activity as younger dogs.
In many cases, they really shouldn’t be as physically active as they used to be.
But, that doesn’t mean they should go without exercise completely!
Make sure you’re giving your dog opportunities to go out for walks, even if you have to keep it really short.
If walks are uncomfortable for your dog, as they are for many seniors with arthritis, take them for a swim!
Drive them over to the local watering hole, strap them up with a flotation device, and head out into the water with them.
Getting into a stretching routine with your senior dog can also greatly benefit their health and happiness.
Yes, your senior dog still wants to play and socialize!
Playing with the puppy down the street might be a bit much for them, but a little sit down with another senior dog could be just what they need to brighten their spirits.
Some senior dogs actually do like to play with younger dogs, or at least be around them. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not overdoing it.
In all cases, keep in mind your dog’s social preferences. Avoid putting them in situations you know they have disliked in the past, or completely new situations without precaution.
Your senior dog will also enjoy socializing with new humans!
Having company over, or going to a friends house, can be a great way to add a little spontaneity to their week.
Go on an Adventure
Take your senior dog on an adventure that matches their speed.
Experiencing new environments in a safe way is sure to provide your senior dog with the engagement they need.
But, keep it appropriate to their activity levels.
Maybe skip the five mile hiking loop you used to do when they were younger.
Instead, hanging out on a blanket at the park could be just as adventurous for them!
Head out to a local hiking trail and explore around the woods near the parking area to give them some new smells and sights.
Your senior dog might also enjoy going on car rides, whether you’re rolling around the neighborhood or cruising down the highway.
Just make sure you have a seat belt for them, as senior dogs won’t be able to stabilize themselves as well as younger dogs in the car.
Love, Rest, and Relaxation
Most importantly, make sure you let your dog know how much you love them regularly.
Whether it’s with treats, snuggles, or words of affirmation, expressing your love to your dog will go a long way in improving their time as a senior.
Puppies get a lot of attention, but senior dogs need love too!
On top of that, make sure they have cozy places to rest when you’re not adventuring or playing games.
Laying on the floor or getting up on the couch can be pretty uncomfortable and difficult for senior dogs.
So, get them a quality orthopedic bed and put it in a place they can easily access.
Give them a few places to hang out at when they want to relax.
By balancing engagement, affection, and rest, you will certainly maximize your senior dog’s happiness.