Activities For Large Senior Dogs

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Introduction

If your big dog is getting up in years, they may have slowed down a bit. They no longer run in circles chasing their tail nor spring into action every time they hear a leaf blow. That doesn't mean your dog doesn't still need exercise and mental stimulation or that they don't enjoy spending as much time as possible with you. They may not be able to go jogging with you anymore but they can do some less vigorous activities, and will enjoy the diversion. You may have to practice cutting back on some activities but there are still plenty of fun options for you and your large breed senior pal to explore.

Teaching New Tricks

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Any Day
Free
Normal
15 min
Items needed
Treats or rewards
Activity description
We know, they say you can't teach old dogs new tricks but that doesn't mean we agree. Many dogs love to continue their education well into their senior years. Your dog probably already knows the basic commands so try giving them a new challenge. Tricks are always fun and entertaining so pick a new trick and spend a few minutes every day adding it to their repertoire. Before you know it, you'll be showing off the new tricks to friends and family and your dog will love being the center of attention. Don't forget to reward them with a treat and high praise.
Step
1
Pick the prizes
One thing to keep in mind while training is too many extra treats adds calories to your dog's daily diet. Choose the rewards that your dog responds to best while keeping in mind the calories and sugar count. In addition to selecting healthy treats, choose suitable tricks. Tricks to teach could include high five, shake, put up toys, go to bed, and many others.
Step
2
Teach yourself first
If you don't feel confident about training your dog to do tricks, do some research initially on gentle, positive dog training methods. And remember to be patient. Your dog is trying to please you and will work hard to win your approval. If they don't understand right away, keep your voice calm and show them the trick again.
Step
3
Allow for limitations
Keep in mind that senior dogs may have limited physical abilities to perform certain tricks. They probably won't be jumping through hoops or doing somersaults but they''ll enjoy learning a new trick and you'll enjoy showing off their new skill to your family and friends. Happily demonstrating a high five or showing proficiency at recall are gentle skills that suit the senior dog. Together, you make quite a team.
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Car Ride Fun

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Vehicular Doggie Safety Harness
Activity description
Your large breed senior dog may not enjoy walking for long periods anymore, but going for a car ride is another story. Older dogs vision may worsen and they may lose their hearing, but their sniffer usually works well their entire lives. Lower your windows enough to allow a breeze to enter and your dog can catch the myriad of amazing scents that come racing at them. Wise people never lower the windows enough that their dog could jump out if they are not fastened in and they don't let their dogs hang their head out the window (so they don't get hit or injured by bugs and other flying debris). This is one activity your dog is sure to love.
Step
1
Get ready to go
Load your car with a portable water dish, a container of water, and if you plan on being gone for a while, some kibble. By now your dog has probably figured out you are going somewhere and will be super excited to be invited to join you on your journey. Now, it's time to hit the road.
Step
2
Buckle up
Buckle up for safety. You can get special car restraints for dogs. This makes the trip much safer and doesn't allow your dog to distract you while you're driving. If your dog is loose when an accident occurs it will become a flying projectile and is much more prone to injury. As well, your senior canine may feel more secure when buckled in. Be safe, not sorry.
Step
3
Cruising along
Enjoy the ride. Turn on some tunes or just relax in the company of your best friend. Whether you're out running errands or taking a cruise around the countryside, your dog will appreciate the change of scenery. There's always plenty to see when you're wheeling down the road.
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Swimming

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Hot Day
Cheap
Easy
45 min
Items needed
Life Vest or Flotation Device
Activity description
This activity is good for both of you. Low-impact exercise is great cardio without putting a lot of stress on the joints. Many dogs are natural swimmers and take to the water right away but don't worry, even if your dog doesn't get the idea instinctively, they soon will. JustĀ  make sure to stay close until they do. This is the perfect exercise for dogs suffering from arthritis, as most older large breed dogs do. You need to watch older dogs closely as they are swimming because they get tired much quicker than they used to. Don't let them go out into deep water. If you are lucky enough to live near a body of water where you can enjoy your aquatic activities, that's great. If you need somewhere else to go, look for pools that offer doggie swim classes or pool time.
Step
1
Head to the swimming hole
If you want to go swimming with your dog you have to select a safe destination, first and foremost. If you're lucky enough to have a nearby body of water that you and your dog can paddle in, that's great but if you don't, look for a pool that offers doggie swim classes or pool time. The bonus with a swimming pool is that there most likely will be a canine swimming instructor present. This safe, instructive social time may be so much fun that it could turn out to be a favorite activity to share with your dog.
Step
2
Use a life vest
It's always best for your dog to wear a canine life vest when he goes in the water. If your dog is new to the water, use the leash to gradually walk him in a ways until he starts to float and paddle. When he gets the idea, join in the fun and paddle away with your big buddy. Be sure to keep him close and stay near the shore until you are positive that he has the idea. Now, that's real fun under the sun.
Step
3
Get dry
Once you come out of the water you'll want to dry off and get your dog as dry as possible. Of course he'll do the wet dog shake, but that's not enough. Older dogs get chills easier than younger canines do. Use towels to rub your dog dry. While you're at it, indulge in a little doggie massage time.
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More Fun Ideas...

Practice Sit and Come

Keeping your dog active is important to their overall health. Even small activities aid in helping your dog stay mobile. Practice 'sit' and 'come' at mealtimes or any time during the day.

Doggie Massage

If you spend a little time each day giving your dog a massage it will help aid muscle function and mobility and also relieve any stress your dog is feeling. Check with your veterinarian to see what movements and manipulations will most help your dog feel the effects while being safe at the same time.

Conclusion

The more active your dog remains the better outlook for the rest of their life. They are happiest when they are spending time with you and making you happy. Large breeds in particular need to keep up their physical strength to maintain mobility, so don't let your old dog lie all the time. Make these years the best years of your dog's life and share some time with your best pal.