Activities For Small Senior Dogs

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Introduction

Who was it who said that senior dogs don't want to have fun? Ask any dog whatever their age if they want to play, and unless they are seriously ill, it will be affirmative. Your little dog may not be as fast or as steady on their paws as they used to be, nor may they have the same stamina, but with some creative thinking, games can be altered to accommodate the aging pooch. The worst thing for an aging dog is being excluded from family activities. They need to feel useful, wanted and loved. With a small dog it is a bit easier to include them, even if it means carrying them when they tire on a walk. Larger dogs have different issues, but in this article we will focus on small senior dogs and what we can do to keep them fit, active and mentally alert. Games in general need to be a bit slower, and slightly less physically challenging. But it is important to build some exercise into their day, to strengthen their leg muscles, and maintain their circulation.  Accommodating your older dog can be as simple as changing the pace of an activity. A game doesn't have to be done at full throttle, your dog should be encouraged to go at their own pace and still get the same praise, cuddle and small treat as a reward for their effort. Changing the elevation of a game, the pace, the distance and the time involved will still allow your little grey nomad to enjoy life and feel useful and loved.

Dog Paddle Delight

Popular
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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
20 to 30 Minutes
Items needed
Paddling or swimming pool
Floating toys
Small treats
Small floating board
Activity description

Swimming or playing in water is a fun activity that can involve your dog in the warmer summer months. The waters buoyancy takes the stress out of your dog's limbs, allowing them to play without pain. If you don't have a swimming pool, then a child's paddling pool will do for some small dogs. Another option is an outing to a quiet river inlet, which would be ideal. You may have to go into the water yourself, to give your dog confidence. As dogs age, some may become fearful as their strength diminishes, preventing them from doing things that they used to do without a thought. So, give them ample encouragement and be there to support them. They will love the extra attention and feel important, which will boost their confidence. It is a great activity to cool down a hot dog and can be a sneaky way of bathing them! Older dogs feel the cold, so don't overdo the water play. If they want to stop, then end the game. Wrap them in a fluffy towel and cuddle them dry.

Step
1
Choose your venue
The first thing is to choose the venue for this activity. If you have a swimming pool at home, the problem is solved. Otherwise you may need to invest in a child's paddling pool, or take a drive to a river inlet (which your dog will love, watching the scenery through the window and all). The idea is to choose a shallow stretch of water where you can play with your dog.
Step
2
Let the games begin
This part of the activity is where you can make use of those cheap floating toys you brought along. Throw one in the water and ask your dog to fetch it. Allow your dog to go at their own pace, and reward them for their clever completion of the task. Do this a few times with a break in between each retrieve. Watch your dog and take note of their level of activity. When they tire of the game, move onto the next part.
Step
3
Doggie surfer
When they tire of the retrieving part of the game, stay in the water with them and lift them onto the float board - lying on their tummy (or they can stand or sit if they wish). This is an opportunity to teach them to stay, and to trust you to pull them around in the water. Small dogs will love this activity once they get used to it. The board allows them relaxation time and fun, it allows your dog to keep cool, and it is a workout for you! Bingo! You get to spend valuable time with your aging pooch AND get fit at the same time!
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Hidden Treat

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
20 - 40 Minutes
Items needed
Yogurt or similar container cups
Small flavorful treats
Activity description
This game will appeal to any dog but especially a senior dog, where with minimal effort they can earn a delicious treat. It is a fun way to get them to use their nose and their powers of deduction to sniff out where you have hidden the treat. Once they get the hang of the game you can hide the treat while your dog watches, then move the cups around before you give the order to 'find'. Watch as they deduct which cup you have hidden the treat in. Your dog will love that you are down on the floor with them, and the time will be a chance for some quality time together. All dogs need to know that they are valued, that they are important to their pack (you and your family). Status in the wild depends on your pack value, so build your dog's status up and make them feel great. This is one game that is cheap to play, it really only costs the price of the treats, plus the yogurt tubs that you keep after devouring the goods.
Step
1
Teach your old dog a new trick
Set up three or five cups on the floor after punching a few holes in the bottom to let the scent of a treat waft out. If your dog has never played this before, start with hiding a treat under a cup or two and letting them sniff it out, knock it over and scoff it up. Once they get the idea, just put a treat in one cup while they watch, then move the cups around and give the order to find. It's fun to watch them go into action, sniffing each and every cup until - yummo - they get the treat amid much excitement, praise and patting from you.
Step
2
Make it a little harder
To get them moving a bit more, move the cups wide apart, with the treat hidden in one cup only. Your senior dog will have to wander from cup to cup to find the hidden treat. Once again, give lavish praise for their find.
Step
3
Change the containers
You can add variety by changing the containers. Clean take-out containers, empty cereal boxes and brightly colored bags all make a good change. It teaches your dog to focus on what you are doing to be able to find the treat in the quickest time. But having said that, let the game commence at your dogs pace, don't pressure them to rush as they are not puppies anymore. Just let them enjoy the challenge.
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Special Day Out

Popular
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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 2 Hours
Items needed
bike with a basket
small soft cushion
collar and leash
water and small treats
Picnic food and blanket
Small towel
Activity description
Many senior dogs are house bound while the family is away all day at work. Imagine how bored they must become, which often causes them to turn to mischief! Plan a day out for your dog to add some spice to their life. First, train them to enjoy sitting in the basket on the bike. Teach them to stay in the basket, then get them used to them sitting in the basket while the bike moves. Having you there will encourage your dog to stay and before long, you will have a hard time getting them to get out of the basket! The goal of this activity is to go for a bike ride around your area with your dog, stopping occasionally at the park so they can get out and socialise. Then move onto another area. It is an ideal activity for getting them out in the fresh air, meeting and greeting other dogs, and just a change from what can become a boring housebound routine.
Step
1
Begin the bike ride
Get everything you will need in your backpack, put your dog in the bike basket using the pillow to make it comfortable, and then head out cycling the route you have planned. Your dog will love the sights, sounds, smells and fresh air in their face. Just moving about while sitting or lying comfortable on the cushion in the basket will bring a grin to an old dog's face.
Step
2
Park break
Stop at a park, pop your pal's leash on and let your dog have a walk about. They will love the opportunity to socialise with other dogs, sniff some smelly stuff, and do all the doggie things that can be enjoyed in the great outdoors. After a while, pack up your dog and cruise off again to a different place. If you live near the beach, your dog will enjoy a paddle in the water. Make sure they are dry before heading off again as you don't want them to get a chill.
Step
3
Time for a snack and a nap
Pull up at a nice quiet park and set up the blanket, then get comfy for a snack attack. By now your dog may be a bit tired, so have a cuddle session with lots of patting or even a brushing session. Then, dish up some special treats for lunch. Spend as much time as you can with your dog. Then pack up everything and bike back home again. What an exciting day for your dog! They will treasure this outing and will love it if you repeat it often.
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More Fun Ideas...

The Incline Exercise

Stairs are often too much for a small senior dog to cope with as an exercise tool anymore. If you set up a ramp around the home that has a gentle incline, it will be perfect to strengthen those aging muscles. Don't over do this game, especially in hot weather. You can train your little dog to quietly walk up the ramp and sit at the top, then come back down and get a treat. You can even put a nice smelly treat at the top to encourage them to keep going up the ramp. Dogs of this age should work for their treats as they don't do the same amount of exercise as they age. Just giving treats for the sake of it doesn't mean anything, but if they have to overcome a challenge, and then get a treat - they will feel important and their grin will be so wide they may be in danger of tripping over their tongue!

Tug of War

Tug of war is a cool game for a small senior dog to engage in. Not only is it a natural outlet for their pent up energy, but it is a good exercise for their mouth and teeth. Use a soft tug rope and drag it past your dog's nose - they will respond by grabbing it and tugging as you hold it firm to resist their efforts. Driven by the need to win, your dog will become fully involved, with huffs and puffs and pretend growls as they shake, pull and strive to win the rope. Let them win after a few minutes of the game. Follow their win with a hug and lots of praise while they will no doubt chew on the rope. Then take the rope back, reset your dog (this is good training for them) and repeat the game. You may get tired of it, but your dog won't. At the end let them know the game is over by taking the toy away after they have had a good victory chew, and take the dog for a mini walk around the back yard or throughout the house to complete the game.

Sit and Beg Builds Muscles

This activity is a simple trick to add strength to your dog's hind legs and lower back muscles. It is all about revisiting the trick of teaching your dog to beg. They may have learned this when they were younger, but chances are you don't ask them to do it any more. Bad choice, as this is a great chance to strengthen the hind quarters of your dog - an area that is often the first to weaken. Sitting up and holding for a few seconds at a time will strengthen ailing muscles. Your dog will love the extra attention (and the reward treats) and when everyone claps and says what a smart dog they are, you can see them puffing up with pride. Not only is it a good exercise trick to do with your dog on a regular basis, it will build their confidence and have them acting like a dog half their age!

Conclusion

As your dog ages, they won't have the energy that they used to. Your dog may enjoy just lying on the porch watching the world go past. Things change as age creeps in, like not having the same bladder control or lack of energy to run a marathon. Just as you researched what to do when you got a dog, so you should research about caring for the senior dog. Dietary needs will change, exercise needs will change, your dog will change. But they will always have the same willingness to please, to be part of your family. Tailor your dog's golden years to be enjoyable, and adapt things to suit your pooch. A more comfortable bed may be needed to support those aching bones. Steps can become difficult for an aging dog and can cause injury if they slip or fall. For slippery surfaces, consider getting carpet runners so your dog can get a grip. Platforms instead of steps into the car or the house will help prevent jarring on the muscles and bones. Sniff out gentle activities that keep them active and flexible is important. It can be frustrating for a dog when the mind is willing but the body can’t keep up. Spend quality time with your doggo, offer support when needed, and make the golden years of their life the best they have ever had!