How to entertain and exercise an elderly dog

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While your elderly dog still needs to be exercised, they may have various health conditions such as arthritis or sight loss, limiting their exercise.  However, it is vital for other health reasons that they l stay active and get exercise.  They may be slower and need more rest.

Exercising an elderly dog

At Finchley Dog Walker, we specialise in walking senior dogs, and below are our top tips on walking and exercising old dogs.

Gentle but regular walks

Even though your dog is now a senior family member, they still need to be kept active to help with the limbs and joints.

However, shorter and more gentle walks are needed rather than going for one or two long walks each day.  After all, your dog will still want to sniff around and enjoy the fresh air and the great outdoors.

Keep to small and gently walks.

Watch the weather

When walking your older dog, it is essential to check the temperature and weather conditions.  Senior dogs cope even less with extreme temperatures. During the cold season, I would recommend that you purchase a coat for your more senior dog to help their joints in the cold weather.

Would you mind keeping to the same old routes with your senior dog?

Now that our dog is getting older and the chances are his eyesight is failing keeping to familiar routes will prevent them from getting stressed and anxious.

Be your dog’s eyes.

If your dog has started to lose his eyesight or his hearing, then he is relying on you to keep him safe.  Bikes and joggers etc., that to him will appear to come out of nowhere will be stressful.

Try and keep an eye on your surroundings and be prepared.  If you notice something that you think will frighten or cause your dog stress, stop and stoke them gently, helping to reassure them that there is nothing to worry about.

 Let your dog set the pace of your walk.

When we are on walks with your more senior clients, we go at their pace.  This may mean it takes us half an hour to do a 10-minute block, but at the end o the day, it is their walk.

It is important to remember not to rush the or ake the exercise ore than they want t.

If they decide to have a lie-down for a few minutes during the walk, then let them. They are telling you they need a rest.

Indoor games and exercising an elderly dog

All dogs, including senior dogs, benefit from exercise and indoor games, especially when the weather is either too hot, cold or wet.

Playing brain games with your senior dog also allows you to have quality time together.

Exercise for senior dogs

Just because your dog has reached their mature years, this does not mean that you need to stop exercising. Don’t

Below are a few simple ideas of exercises you can do with your senior dog

Walking

Even the most senior dogs will still want to go out for a gentle stroll and enjoy the outdoors.  This may mean shorter walks with the opportunity to rest.

 Swimming is great for exercising and elderly dog

It has been proven that swimming can be an excellent exercise for older dogs as it is gentle and doesn’t put much strain (if any) on the older joints.  You must dry them off thoroughly when they have had their swim.  This will prevent them from getting cold.

As with all dogs, only let them have a swim providing it is safe. Remember, pools and lakes that have higher sides to climb before they can get out may prove a challenge.  Consider using a harness with a handle that enables you to help them out.

 Scent games

Generally speaking, older dogs will keep their sense of smell.  In this case, like all dogs, they will enjoy scent games.  The advantage of scent games is, not only does it help tire them out, but it keeps the brain active and in working order.

Playing

Senior dogs still love to play their favourite game.  However, you may need to be a bit more gentle and slower.  It is also essential to try and not make them have to jump etc.

Socialising

As a rule, dogs like to socialise.  This is the same as they get older.  Try and meet up with a dog of similar age and mobility so they can enjoy some time together. It is important to be aware some senior dogs can get grumpy around puppies and younger dogs that want to play and be busy.

 Training

“you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  This is not true. My 11-year-old collie loves learning new tricks and brain games. They may take longer to get it. Try teaching them some new tricks to help keep their brain active.

Doggy stretches

Senior dogs benefit from simple stretches.

Consider a mobility aid for the older dog

Maybe your dog has some mobility issues, so walking is a struggle.  If this is the case, it is still vital for them to have exercise of some sort so they can enjoy a certain quality of life.

As previously mentioned – brain games.

Consider acupuncture, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or massage techniques that might help them.

 Ramps – look into getting a ramp.  These can be a great aid in helping them get in and out of cars or tackling the garden steps.

Wooden floors – put down non-slip rugs so they can grip easier.  This makes it easier for senior dogs that aren’t so steady on their feet to walk rather than having legs slip in all directions.

It is essential that you keep an eye on their nails as they won’t be walking as much on concrete etc., to wear them down.  As a result, they may need clipping.

You may also be interested in 5 things your old dog would like you to understand

If you require help with your elderly dog, we offer a bespoke. service for older dogs

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