As your German Shepherd ages you will notice that they are slowing down and not able to do the fun things they used to enjoy. Do not allow them to simply lounge around and give up on life. This is important in order to keep them mentally and physically fit. Before committing to any activity for your old German Shepherd, have them fully checked out by your veterinarian so you know their limits. Be sure to modify any activity to fit their abilities and do not push them too much to do something they are no longer physically able to do. It is important to make sure they do not become overly tired or become injured during any activity you guys are participating in.
may sound simple to say play fetch with your senior German Shepherd. However, it
is not that simple. Owners need to remember that a senior dog has special needs
and cannot chase after a Frisbee or ball for long periods of time. Do not expect
them to leap through the air making fantastic catches and racing back to your side
for you to do it all again. Their joints and bones cannot take the harsh impact
of leaping and catching in mid-air and then landing on the hard ground. Take it
slow and lightly hurl the Frisbee or ball across the yard or field. Your dog
will still enjoy the exercise of the activity and be grateful that they are not
expected to race around like they did in their younger years.
This is an activity that can be done inside the house when the weather is nasty or it can be done outside in the backyard or even in the local park. While not necessarily called exercise, hide and seek does get your senior German Shepherd moving and interested in life once more. They will feel that they have actually accomplished something when they find the item that was hidden. Most hide and seek sessions should last about 45 minutes, but you can adjust the time to suit your dog’s attention span and activity level. When first introducing the activity, be sure to hide the item in an easy to find place so their reward is quick or they may quickly lose interest.
This is a low impact activity that is excellent for joints and gives your senior pal plenty of exercise. Older dogs especially benefit from spending time in the water and working their muscles without the harsh shock of walking or running on solid ground. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard, you are set for the summer; if you do not have a pool, check around your area for dog friendly bodies of water. Do not take your dog into a body of water that has a strong current. If your old German Shepherd has never been swimming, introduce them slowly and be sure to stay close to them while they are in the water in case they get in trouble while swimming. Senior dogs will still have the heart and drive to swim longer than their bodies will allow. Seniors are more susceptible to the cold and will tire quicker. Do not stay in the water for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Senior dogs will not necessarily play tug-o-war the way they played when they were puppies or younger adults. Their physical abilities will have changed significantly but they will still enjoy a good tug on a favorite toy. Keep in mind that their jaws will not be as strong and they may have loose or missing teeth that can cause them to not be able to pull as hard. Modify the activity to fit them and only play for short periods of time to allow them to rest between activities.
This may sound odd, but just like people, dogs love to be massaged too! Take about 10 to 15 minutes and sit on the floor with your senior German Shepherd and start gently massaging their neck, shoulders, along their spine and their ears. This is very relaxing for them, forms a stronger bond between you and helps with any slight aches and pains they may have.
You will notice your old German Shepherd beginning to slow down both physically and mentally. It is your job to keep them active and help them keep their mental functions from fading too much. By engaging them in fun activities that are similar to those they used to enjoy, you will be helping them live longer and enjoy their life as they age. Just remember to modify any activity to fit the needs of your dog and be mindful of any special needs they may have.