It snuck up on me ever so slightly. I had mentioned to someone that I enjoyed paddle boarding and wanted a faster board for racing. I’ve been active in this sport for years. They rolled their eyes and gave me that look. “At your age, really?” I recoiled from their remark and then realized that there are still many pre-conceived notions as to what constitutes proper behavior for the over 50 crowd. Then I wondered, are we stereotyping our dogs too?
I think most owners will agree that once dogs reach a certain age we start to become hyper-focused on changes in their personality and health. And we may without realizing begin to treat them differently. Often without realizing it we may let them slow down in mind and body. Some may even think “Haven’t they earned that?” However, it may not be the best way to age gracefully. With a veterinarian’s approval there are so many ways that we can enrich the lives of our seniors without simply retiring them to the couch.
Here are some ways that you and your dog can enjoy these precious years together:
Keep up daily exercise together. I’ve known some people that never walk their dogs. Overweight dogs live shorter lives and are prone to more health problems. Visit your vet and discuss options for better diet management and potential exercise solutions based upon your dog’s current health. Swimming can be wonderful for dogs and there are many that incorporate this with physical therapy.
Keep that mind active. There are so many puzzle toys and interesting activities that you can introduce your senior dog to including scent work, rally and tricks that don’t require a lot of physical activity.
Have fun and find the joy in every day with your senior dog. They’ve spent many years getting to know you and will often reflect your moods. Include them wherever you can and let them know that even though they may need more naps, they are an important part of your life. They thrive on a regular schedule and humans do too.
There will be good days and challenges along the way with your senior dog, but there’s nothing as valuable in life as a devoted canine companion that is truly your best friend.
Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT), Consultant for Pet Therapy, Writer for AKC Family Dog and Gazette, Owner of Canines Can Do. Dorice has trained dogs since childhood and her dogs have received many national and international awards. She was mentored by master trainer, Bill Delaney and continues to study with international competitors and renowned trainers Betsy Scapicchio and Diane Goodspeed. She is a certified evaluator for the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program and an evaluator for the Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs. She was elected into the International Honor Society for Teaching, and participates in AKC and CKC performance events.