A lot of times we get into a rut with our relationship with dogs as they age. We walk them less, stop teaching them new tricks, and don’t go out and explore new places as much together. With this comes a significant decline in mental and physical ability. As dogs age they can develop literally overnight new fears and disorders such as Cognitive dysfunction Syndrome which is equivalent to our Alzheimer’s. Sometimes its a sudden fear of thunder, or develop anxiety, even have aggression towards other animals. You might see them become clingier and less social. The good news is there are measures we can take to prevent this. We need to stretch them mentally and physically with a little dog training. The more we teach and interact with them the more you we are able to control some of the reactions they may face when their older. Here are some important tips on how to create a long, happy, balanced life for your dog.
Dog boredom and depression happen too often in too many dogs. Try changing directions on your dog walk, go for a hike, or enjoy a relaxing picnic together under a shaded tree after visiting the dog park. You’ll never get a complaint out of him; seeing and sniffing new things is always exciting. In a previous blog I mentioned an app for Iphone users called Dog Park Finder. Its pretty sweet. No matter where you are you can see pictures, maps and reviews for the nearest dog parks.
is crucial in their development. You can make play dates with your friends dog as one idea. Another would be to hire a pet sitter to play with him once a day while your at work. This way he can build lasting relationships other humans and dogs. They learn new things and get plenty of exercise.
Examine your dogs environment at home
Are there new things your dog can discover? One suggestion would be to rotate new toys in. Have specific toys just for certain occasions. The toys will remain exciting to them and they will always feels new. For example if your leaving town have a specific toy that is only allowed for the time he shares with his pet sitter. Older dogs work best with high contrasting color toys so they can see them better. Also keep in mind softer toys work best for older dogs. Its gentler on their jaws and teeth. Another fun suggestion would be to hide and spinkle a bit a his food out in the yard. So he has to sniff and hunt for his meal. To start; just sprinkle a bit in a relatively small area of the yard.
is a great way to keep his mind occupied; thus strengthening their brains and building their confidence levels up. It keeps him on his toes and he has to think ahead if he wants to please you. Plus its a whole lot of fun to show off to your friends. Dogs want to learn and they want to please you. There are many tricks you can teach them that don’t require you to spend long lengths of time teaching. To name just a few; bow, play dead, cover their eyes with their paws, shake, crawl, kiss or hug. Hand signal commands taught before they become deaf is also easy to do and deosnt require a whole lot of effort on your part. By just taking 1 hour out of your day you can make the world of difference to your dog.
is another way to bond with your pet. Petting and brushing is not only relaxing to them but is quite therapeutic to our health as well. Research studies have show that when we pet them or sometimes just by looking at them we release Oxytocin which is the “feel good” hormone most associated with social bonding. Thus boosting our own immunity, lowering stress levels and decreasing pain. It plays a big role in the deep love that grows between us and our pets.
The book titled “Why dogs die young and what we can do about it” suggests changing their food periodically, seasonally if you will just like the way a wild wolf would have different food seasonally, and also the way we would do. I’m currently feeding mine Blue Buffalo. I highly recommend it. As dogs age they need more protein. Blue Buffalo’s first ingredient is always meat such as chicken, fish, duck, or lamb. Their food includes both veggies and fruit. No artificial colors or preservatives and its packed full with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Decrease their food intake. In a recent study conducted by the Pet Nutrition Research Department of Nestle Purina Pet Care dogs were paired, and 1 dog in each pair was fed 25% less food than its pair-mate from 8 weeks of age until death. Compared with control dogs, food-restricted dogs weighed less and had lower body fat content and lower serum triglycerides, triiodothyronine, insulin, and glucose concentrations. Median life span was significantly longer for dogs in which food was restricted. The onset of clinical signs of chronic disease generally were delayed for food-restricted dogs. Results suggest that 25% restriction in food intake increased median life span and delayed the onset of signs of chronic disease in these dogs.
Let love be your guide; get out there, be creative and have fun! The bond that you share together will continue to grow stronger and your dog will thank you. He’ll repay you with a long healthy life. With less illnesses and medical procedures down the road. He’ll continue to reward you with many years filled with laughter, kisses, hugs, and smiles.