Springer Spaniel with tennis ball in its mouth

Fun with Your Older Dog

Doggie Games to Play

Part 1 of 2 in the series

Here are a few fun ways for entertaining your older dog. No purchase required! Just gather some household items and follow these tips, and you and your dog will enjoy some pure tail-wagging fun.

1)  Box Puzzles

Here’s an excellent way to use some of those delivery boxes you’ve been accumulating since the start of the pandemic. With your pup in another part of the house, arrange those empty boxes on the floor and hide treats in some of them. Show him the boxes and let him use his nose to find the hidden treasures. After you’ve done this several times and he’s getting the gist of it, rearrange the boxes with more treats.

2)  Cupcake Puzzles

Take an empty cupcake/muffin pan and place 12 tennis balls (or as many as you have) into each muffin cup. Place treats or pieces of his kibble into some of the cups, but not all, and then place a tennis ball into each cup. Show your dog the tray and see how long it takes for him to move the right balls to find the hidden treasure. Each time you play, change where you place the treats in the muffin tray.

3) Hide and Seek

This is where they’ll need to know some basic commands for this, like, sit, stay, and come. Take him to a different room. Have him sit and stay. Then you leave and hide in a different location in your home. Once you’ve found your perfect spot, call their name encouraging them to find you. And when he does, reward him with a treat.

4) Obstacle Course

This one’s a no brainer! Take advantage of everyday household objects and design your course to be either easy or more difficult. Just be sure to keep your dog’s age and any health restrictions, in mind. You can use old boxes for him to crawl through. Or put chairs all around for him to navigate around, or under. If he’s nimble enough, you can even stack books for him to jump over. Use your imagination. But, always remember, they’re not young pups anymore, so don’t give them anything that will be next to impossible for them to perform. When you watch an older dog doing something enjoyable, your heart lifts and it melts. He’s allowed you a little glimpse into those days of yesteryear when that old spark ignites in his eyes once again. Yes, they can still enjoy their life in their senior years. Just in a scaled downsize.

Also, when you’re playing with your older pet, just remember he can’t play the same as he did when he was a pup. His energy levels will be lower, which means you’ll have to tailor their exercise to support their age and energy levels. Their bones might be more fragile, making them more prone to injury. Even their muscles will be weaker making them perhaps, less coordinated.

Their eyesight is another factor to consider, as aging can contribute to diminishing sight, making it more difficult to see clearly while doing games like “fetch.”

Arthritis and hearing in old age can also be problematic. Oh, those painful joints. And some dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and loss of cartilage. And as they age, just like us, their digestive system quite possibly might change, becoming more sensitive.

Maybe you will have to count their calories or perhaps putting them on a restricted diet. Being less active tends to add some unwanted pounds which will not be good for their joints and other things.

Each dog is different. Just like humans. Some may be strong and healthy in their old age, while others may not be as fortunate. Keep in mind his energy level, vision, hearing, digestive system, and his mental acuity when playing games.

Don’t overdo it.  Keep it fun so he’ll want to play again.

OKAY, NOW THIS IS REALLY GETTING BIZARRE.  As I’m writing this article about our senior pups, I’m discovering that I’m sadly falling into every one of the categories I’m writing about!

a)   I’m a senior. Very senior.

b)  My vision is not 20/20 anymore, even with my contacts or glasses. But, I do look nice in my glasses.  So, I guess that’s a plus in the win column.

c)  My energy level is NOT what it once was. Sure, I can still go to the mall and go shopping with my girlfriends. But the days of “shopping until I drop” are long gone. Nowadays, it’s more like dropping before I shop.

d)  My hearing is still very good. I can still hear a gnat sneeze from across the room. So, if you’re out with me, be careful when whispering.

e)  My mental acuity is as sharp as a tack. And there’s no one brave enough to dispute that. So, I guess that’s another plus in the win column.

f)  My digestive system is okay. Maybe not great, but I get along just fine.

g)  Aches and pains? Well, that’s a whole other issue. Sure, at my age, I have a bit of arthritis. I’ve had both knees replaced (and they work as good as new). My joints, however, are not at all happy with me. How do I know this, you might ask? They NEVER stop complaining.

OMG! I’m becoming a Senior Dog! How scary is that? Well, at least I know exactly how they’re feeling at any given time and why. We’ll always be on the same page. Realizing the needs of each other. I guess it’s not so bad after all.

So, to all of you Old Doggies out there, you have someone writing articles about you who actually knows how you feel and what you’re experiencing at any given time. ME!  CARROLL!  Your very own private Senior Editorial Director, reporting on all things “Senior Doggies.”

Just stick with me Kiddos, I’ve got your back. Stay tuned for Part 2 of 2.

2 thoughts on “Fun with Your Older Dog”

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I had fun writing it until I discovered I was actually writing about myself. 😁😁🤣🤣
      It’s truly amazing how much I actually identified with the SENIOR DOGS! But I also learned something while researching for the article. I would not have been able to have written with the same experience and clarity had I been in my twenties or thirties. Age has many privileges. Wisdom being one of them! I’m pleased you enjoyed part one. Please look out for part 2, soon. Carroll

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