Senior dogs are the best — they’re wisdom knows no bounds and their graying face is the cutest. They also may have less energy, but that doesn’t mean they should have less fun! Senior dogs can’t run around like they once could, but there are a variety of good activities for senior dogs that are still fun and age-appropriate for them.
Senior Dogs Love Car Rides
Most dogs love being in the car, especially if they associate it with the wind in their fur and not a trip to the vet’s office. If it’s a nice day, take a car ride with your dog. Roll down the windows, strap them in (if necessary), and let them enjoy the nice day in their favorite way possible: head out the window and tongue flapping in the wind.
You don’t even need to have a destination in mind. Your dog will just love the experience. If you’re in the mood for it, you can take them for ice cream or a pupachino, or to their favorite park for a nice walk or sunbathing session.
Take a Day-cation with your Senior Dog
What dog doesn’t love a day of fun with their owner? Take them out for a few hours so they can enjoy being a dog. If they love the beach (and if it’s dog-friendly), take them out for a swim! If you have a boat, take them for a ride, or if they have a favorite dog park, walk, or easy hike, take them there.
The point of a day-cation for a dog is to let them go at their own pace. Allow them to sniff to their heart’s content, to rest in the sun, and be as active or as inactive as they want to be. In other words, just let them be a dog and have some good-natured, instinctual fun.
Take Your Senior Dog Swimming
As mentioned above, if there is a dog-friendly beach in your area, or if you or a friend has a pool, let your dog go swimming. A kiddie pool is great for smaller dogs too! Swimming is an incredible activity for most dogs, especially older ones, as it allows them to work their muscles with less strain. It’s a low-impact activity that’s easy on aging joints and ligaments. Plus, it’s just fun!
You can turn swimming into a game too, if your dog is adventurous. Throw a toy into the water and encourage them to go fetch it. They can either jump in and swim it to you, or just swim after it and bring it back.
If your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, consider investing in a doggy life jacket. This will help them stay afloat without hindering their fun.
Brush Up On Obedience Training
If your dog is treat motivated, then why not use that to brush up on obedience training? To you, it’s good behavior reinforcement, but to them, it’s a game! Obedience training is a good bonding activity that engages your dog mentally and physically through communication and a lot of praise.
Because they’re older, this is a good time to retrain some older tricks and eliminate others from their focus. For example, a senior dog may still need to know “watch me” to eliminate distractions and “sit down,” but they probably won’t need to be retrained on how to calm down after a bout of the zoomies.
Try teaching them with hand signals as well as vocals, as their hearing or eyesight may be going bad in their old age. This will help them catch on to what you want them to do, even if they can’t see or hear as well as they used to.
You’re also able to adapt this training to their physical needs/abilities. If your dog is having trouble with arthritis, then you can work to eliminate any tricks or old habits that cause them physical discomfort.
Use Their Senses to Make Games
A senior dog’s nose can be just as good as when they were a young pup, so use it to their advantage! They don’t need their eyes and ears when they have their nose to find buried treats. A good scent game you can play with them involves a small handful of treats, and a few small boxes.
Scatter the boxes on the floor and drop a few small treats in two or three of the boxes. Encourage your dog to find the treats. Then repeat this several times while cheering your dog on as they find the treats.
Remember, just because they’re older, doesn’t mean they deserve less attention. While their naps may be longer and their run may be slower, they still love you and deserve the same level of care they received when they were younger. Show your senior dog some love with plenty of kisses, pets, games, and treats!