Playing With Your Senior Dog

Is there any face more dear than the graying muzzle of an elderly dog?  Your dog may be getting older, yet he still enjoys many of the same things he did when he was younger.  Just because a dog is getting a little older doesn’t mean he can’t still have fun playing!  In fact, your older dog probably loves to spend time with you more than ever.  It’s also true that your older dog still needs regular exercise to keep up good muscle tone.  So, don’t relegate your senior dog to the old dog’s home just yet.

Benefits of playing with your senior dog

Many senior dogs tend to be a little on the chubby side as they get older.  Enjoying some good exercise with you can help them keep their weight in check.  If your older dog is already slim then engaging in play and exercise should help him continue to have a good appetite.  Exercise also helps promote good muscle tone.  Older dogs may start to feel a few aches and pains from arthritis and other joint problems which can affect their mobility.  Taking some mild exercise and spending time playing is a good way to help your dog stay active and promote better joint mobility and circulation.

Plus, spending time playing and exercising with your dog can help your senior dog continue to take an active interest in life every day.

In short, play and exercise can help keep your older dog feeling and acting younger and may help add a few more years to his life.

What kind of play is safe for your older dog?

For the most part, you can continue to pursue the same kinds of activities with your older dog that he enjoyed when he was younger.  If you and your dog engaged in obedience, go ahead and work on your obedience lessons.  If you liked to take long walks, take walks with your senior dog, just shorten them a bit.  If your dog loved to catch the frisbee, give him some easy tosses to catch.  Just keep in mind that his current physical condition will probably restrict some of the things he can do now.  Don’t overtax your older dog or encourage him to do something where he might injure himself.

If your dog loved to perform agility, you may have to scale back the obstacles so he can run through some obstacles that are set up with his current abilities in mind. If your dog loved to go hiking with you, set out with him on a short, easy hike instead of some of the harder treks you used to take.

Swimming is a wonderful exercise for older dogs.  It’s excellent for dogs with any arthritis or hip problems and most dogs find it very relaxing.  Plus, it’s something that you can do together.

Spend some time tossing a ball for your older dog and teaching him some new, fun games in your backyard.  The important thing is that you and your older dog are getting to spend some time together and your dog is staying active and having fun.

Every Dog Is Different

Every senior dog is different so you will need to keep an eye on your older dog and see how he responds to different kinds of play and exercise.  Many senior dogs will thrive on spending time playing with you and getting some exercise, but it’s always possible that your dog may have an injury or an ailment that makes it uncomfortable for him to play.  So, watch your dog and be sensitive to how he feels.

Don’t play or exercise with your dog during the hottest part of the day.  It’s also better not to exercise outside when it’s too cold or when it’s rainy.  It’s usually better to play with your dog before he eats and then wait about 30 minutes before playing or doing any exercise.

Some older dogs may feel more comfortable playing indoors.  Try playing in a carpeted area so your dog has good traction.  Spend a little time playing fetch indoors.  Try a wrestling game.  Teach your dog to play hide-and-seek with some of his favorite treats as rewards.

Senior dogs are very special so try to do all you can to keep your older dog happy and healthy.  Remember that gentle play and mild exercise can be very beneficial for your dog.  In many cases they can help your dog feel better and live longer.  Spend some quality time playing with your dog and you’ll have more precious memories in the years to come.


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