November is National Senior Pet month. As our dogs age, they still love us as much as they did when they were younger, and they still look to you for love, safety and security. We need to understand how to properly care for them and continue that relationship.
Our dogs give us unconditional love, respect and trust their entire lives and are still willing to give us everything in their senior years. Unfortunately, many times, owners feel that when their dog can’t keep up, go for long walks or jump into bed with them, so they take them to a shelter or put them down. Instead, we simply need to adjust some of our expectations so that our relationship with our dog continues to stay strong.
- Start to decrease the length of walks and take your dog in the morning or early evening. Try to find more grassy areas for your walk and minimize any vertical pathways. This minimizes the physical stress brought on because of his increasing age.
- Try to play the same games he once played. Even though your dog is getting older, it doesn’t mean that his brain has slowed down. If the games involve a great deal of physical activity, decrease the amount of activity.
- Don’t have strangers quickly approach your dog or approach him from his “blind side”. As he ages, his sight and physical agility start to decrease. This takes away his ability to adjust for approaching people and his ability to back off or physically posture. With this option gone, he may naturally revert to nipping as a tool to tell people to back off and let him check them out.
- Age can bring on the need to go to the bathroom more often. If you work during the day, bring in a dog walker to let him out in the middle of the day and to provide him with some calm play time.
- Try to cut down on the amount of trips and car rides with your dog. He can’t jump in the back seat as easily as he could when he was a puppy and may not be able to get in a comfortable position.
- Cut down on the treats and goodies that you give your dog. Since he is older and slower, the treats will begin to add additional, unneeded weight. This puts extra stress on his joints; possibly leasing to arthritis.
- Still give him all the love you want. When you pet him, make it more of a stroking action. This makes sure that you don’t hit a sore area and hurt him.
Just like us, our dogs age and become old. We need to understand that it is our duty to make their later years as happy for them as their entire life has enriched ours.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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