Lots of old dogs love to play. Using their brain and getting a little exercise at the same time are a great combination to keep them entertained and fit. Here are a few ideas of how you can safely play with your senior dog.
Go Find It!
This is a great game you can play indoors or outdoors. Just take some great smelling treats and put them in interesting and accessible places for your dog to find. If you are playing indoors, put your pup in a room while you hide treats around a specific part of the house. If you want your dog to stretch a bit, you can put the treats just a little above nose height or under a piece of furniture. If that is too much work for your dog, then hide the treats in places that are easy for him to access. Open the door and cue “Go find it!”
If you are playing outside, you can literally make a trail of 50 or 100 small treats to give your dog a bit of a walk around the yard by following his nose! You can also hide a favorite toy under a bush or behind a tree. When you let him outside, say “Go find it!”
Lastly, you can try a snuffle mat. They are easy to make or you can buy one on Amazon. If your dog needs to lay down, they can still play. Even a blind dog can really enjoy searching for treats inside the folds of the mat.
The best exercise for a dog’s brain is to sniff, so don’t be surprised if after a couple of rounds your dog takes a big nap!
Go on an Adventure Walk!
When dogs could only walk a short distance, I made sure that at least once a week we went on an “adventure walk.” It is easy to be in the habit of just taking a short walk outside your home or apartment. But since an older dog’s world often starts to shrink a bit, it is a LOT of fun to put him in the car and drive to a new place to walk as often as you can. If you can find a park where he can walk on the grass, or a trail where there are lots of trees and brush, so much the better – the terrain will be easy on the joints and nature will provide a whole variety of interesting smells.
Even if your dog can’t walk far, many enjoy the car ride with the window a little open to smell the world around. Even if your pup can only walk for 5 minutes, a NEW 5 minutes is very stimulating.
Let’s Go Swim!
Swimming is great exercise for most old dogs. Make sure that when you get in a pool you show your dog how to get out of it right off the bat. NEVER leave a dog unsupervised around a pool. If you have a dog who loved to retrieve in her younger years, you will likely find she still loves it and can do it easily in the water. Swimming is great cardio exercise without putting any pressure on old joints. There are tons of water toys, so try a few out and see if you can get her to chase them at any speed!
There are lots of other activities that your older dog may enjoy, but these three are good start and are activities that you can do together. It will fill both your hearts to be able to play and have some fun.