Woman petting smiling dog

Playtime with Your Senior Pup

Doggie Games to Play

Part 2 of 2 in the series

If you’ve read Doggie Games to Play Part 1, you know I was having a senior moment and got a little off track. But I’m allowed a little leeway, as I’m your Senior Editorial Director. Okay, now back to my list of games for your pups.

5) Round Robin

Round Robin is a great game for seniors who are motivated by food or people. It will take two or more people with treats to call your pup back and forth between them and giving a treat when the dog responds.

a)    You can easily modify the game. You can make it harder or easier by hiding in a place less visible or by standing in the open.

b)   If you keep the area smaller, it will be less strenuous as he’ll have less ground to cover.

c)    You don’t need to use high-calorie snacks. You can use green beans, banana slices, apple slices, or carrots, to name just a few. Google the best fruits and vegetables to use as dog snacks.

Set the pace of your games according to the needs and abilities of your dog. If he has a vision problem, compensate by using continuous sounds to help him find you. And stay out in the open. If your dog has difficulty hearing, try using hand signals to lead him to each person.

If his mental acuity is diminished, then lead him to each person as needed. Always remember, although lots of people make the game loads of fun for you, don’t forget about the one you’re playing the game for. Sometimes, too many people can make the game difficult and quite stressful for him.

Whether playing inside or out, choose a location that best suits your dog’s needs. A small open room. A larger open field or just a spot with lots of hiding places.

Have someone call your dog’s name and say “come,” or “here,” etc. If he has difficulty hearing, be sure to have everyone wave their arms, jump up and down, and dance about. Anything to get his attention. If he has trouble seeing, continue to make noise until your dog finally reaches them. If your dog won’t or can’t go on his own, gently lead him over to them.

Once the dog reaches the person, be sure that person rewards him with a treat. Once he receives his treat, have someone else call and encourage the dog to come. Again, reward with a treat. Continue taking turns calling your dog back and forth between all of the game’s players.

Always pay close attention to your dog’s well-being and energy level. If he begins to get bored, tired, or stressed, STOP THE GAME!  Remember… it’s supposed to be fun for him.

6)  Finders Keepers

Another great game for food motivated dogs who also like to use their nose to ferret things out. Hide large treats throughout your home or fenced yard and encourage your pup to find them. This game is especially helpful for keeping your older dog entertained while you’re at work or just out and about for several hours. As with all the games, keep the well-being of your pooch in mind. If he’s tired, STOP!

7)  Puzzle Toys

These toys are great for all dogs, but especially suitable for senior dogs who are unable to do what they once did, like going on long walks or hikes. You can restrict them to smaller areas if they have issues such as incontinence, hearing, or blindness. This gives them something they can do while lying down.

Many of these puzzle toys can be stuffed with food that they enjoy. Just be sure you take into consideration their digestive system and their teeth. Many older dogs may have dental issues as they age. If need be, use soft treats.

Also, many older dogs are still pretty good at solving problems and will probably really enjoy the challenge of a puzzle toy. Other senior dogs may not be as fortunate. So, to avoid undue stress, give them a puzzle toy that only involves chewing or licking.

You’ll find loads of puzzle toys online. Have fun!

8)  Fetch

Sometimes a game as simple as playing “go fetch,” with some modifications for your senior pup, can be as much fun as when they were youngsters.

a)     Set the distance and pace accordingly. Roll the ball as opposed to tossing it. Select balls with rubber nubs or octagonal shapes instead of a smooth round surface. This will help slow down the speed of the ball.

b)   If they have vision difficulties, use balls that make noise, have lights and have bright colors such as blue and yellow. Why those colors? Behavioral tests suggest that dogs see in shades of blue and yellow and lack the ability to see the range of colors from green to red. In other words, they see the colors of the world as basically as blue, yellow, and gray. So, if they get a little confused, lead them to the ball. You can also add a scent to the ball and instead of rolling it away from him, try rolling it toward him.

Also, if they’re easily confused, you can always use a long leash for retrieval of shorter distances to help guide the dog back once he has picked up the ball. ALWAYS keep it low pressure and fun if he’s struggling to remember how to play. Patience is a virtue. Don’t forget that.

c)    Be cognizant of his joints, nerves, muscles, and bones. Keep the game low impact by rolling the ball slowly to avoid him jumping, running too fast, and perhaps falling. You don’t want or need that. He’s not a pup anymore.

Be sure to find a flat grassy area. Concrete sidewalks and driveways or tiled or wooden floors are not the best for obvious reasons. Instead of having your dog stand in front of you and risking the possibility of him turning too quickly in order to run, have him stand beside you as you roll the ball ahead of him. No turning involved. If he forgets to drop the ball after bringing it back, simply show him another ball to get him to drop his and then roll the new ball.

9)  Ante Up

This is a great game for seniors who are still mentally capable but are limited physically. Hide a treat under a heavier plastic cup, such as a Solo Cup, and let him sniff out the goodie. Place holes in the bottom and sides of the cup to make it easier for him to sniff out the treat. To keep it fun and stress-free, limit the number of cups to two or three. After he gets the hang of it and if he enjoys it, feel free to increase the number of cups.

Line the cups up on a flat surface and lift the cup that has the treat beneath showing it to your dog. Now, place the cup back over the treat and coax your dog to find the treat by saying something like, “where is it, or “go get it.”

When he nudges the correct cup, lift it up and let him eat the goodie. Keep repeating until he finds the right cup on his own.

When he does nudge the correct cup, move that cup into another cup’s spot while he’s still watching you. Coax him again to find the cup with the goodie. Lift the cup up only when he nudges the right one.

When he can pick out the right cup after watching you move the cup around, gradually make it more difficult by adding another cup to the game. Lift the cup and only reward him with the treat when he selects the correct cup. Have fun, but keep it stress-free.

Monitor his health

Finally, if you’re looking for ways to get both you and your senior dog healthy together, check out a product called FitBark2, one of the highest-rated dog health monitors on the market. It’s small, colorful, and you simply attach it to your dog’s collar.

It will monitor his activity levels, sleep patterns, distance traveled, calories burned, and overall health and behavior 24/7. The battery life is an incredible six months, allowing you to worry less about recharging and more about bonding with your best buddy. It fits all size dogs, and it’s waterproof, just like your pooch.

Once again, I want to thank you for welcoming this old senior human into your life and your homes to bring you a little information to perhaps make your life and the life of your old senior doggie more enjoyable.

I’d also like to invite you to visit our Facebook Group: GOOD OLD DOGGIE. Here we’d love for you to post some pictures of your furry friend and tell us a little about him or her. And please share both sites with your friends and family. Your most faithful companions will thank you, and so will we.

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