Keeping your senior canine kids physically and mentally stimulated should be a top priority in their care. Just like when humans age, as your fur kids get older, they will be more prone to joint aches and pains that can slow them down, visual and hearing changes, as well as many other challenges. That doesn’t mean Fido’s fun is over, it just means things might have to be altered a bit. So, when you’re making a plan to keep your senior dog fitness level the best it can be, think of ways you can work his/her mind and body. Check out the 5 senior dog fitness activities below!
1. Go For A Walk
Walking doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done almost any time, anywhere. Walking with senior Fido will help increase the quality of his life—it’ll get his joints in motion, strengthen muscles and bones, help maintain a healthy weight, benefit heart, lungs, digestion, elevate mood, as well as enhance his bond with you. Keep in mind that your senior pooch may not walk as fast or as far as he did when he was younger. Follow his lead to build up his tolerance gradually, as you increase his senior dog fitness.
Swimming is a gentle, low-impact way for Fido to exercise every joint and muscle in his body while increasing his cardiovascular fitness. Be aware, though, there are several breeds that don’t do as well in the water because of their body structure.
- Brachycephalic (short or flat-nosed) breeds, like a Shih Tzu, have to tilt their heads up in order to breathe while in the water. This causes them to tilt backward and eventually sink.
- Short-legged breeds also have a tough time swimming since it is very hard for them to effectively paddle and stay afloat. Did you know a Bassett Hound can’t swim?!
- Dogs with very large heavy heads and very dense muscular bodies tend to be less buoyant making staying afloat and swimming very difficult for them.
If your dog matches one of the descriptions above, it doesn’t mean they can’t go in the water. It simply means you have to give them a lot more assistance (maybe even hold them in the water while they paddle their paws to get their workout).
3. Learn New Tricks & Refresh Old Ones
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, forget that. Because, yes, you can! Not only can they learn new commands and tricks, but it’s a great bonding experience for you and your senior pooch. He’ll appreciate the attention and it’ll keep his mind sharp. So whether you decide to teach him something you’d always wanted to and never did, or you want to refresh his old tricks, this will be rewarding for both of you.
4. Play Games
Just like we love to play games so do our senior fur kids. Games like fetch, tug-of-war, find the treat, or get the treat out of the bottle can all challenge your pooch mentally and physically. If you are playing pulling games like tug-of-war, you may want to go a little easy on senior Fido since his teeth and gums may not be as strong as junior Fido’s.
5. Make New Friends
Your pooch is never too old to make new friends. Some people love to go to the dog park and meet new canines. If you have a dog park that you trust, it could be a great avenue for networking. Remember, though, if you’re ever at the dog park and don’t feel safe for any reason, pick up your pooch and leave. Although I do like dog parks, I am always very aware of my two dogs’ surroundings and I’m extremely cautious. Another great way to make new friends is to talk to people that you know and see if they would be willing to set up play dates with their pooch!