When you bring home a puppy, it remains thrilled to start its life and is full of life. He jumps at every opportunity and looks forward to running around and going for long walks. But, as it ages, it does not demonstrate the same energy levels. He wants to return home sooner than he did in the past. At times, it might even avoid going for walks. Again, he can also feel disinterested in playing with his other furry friends. This happens as dogs, similar to humans, slow down when they become seniors.
However, it does not mean that as your dog has become senior, it does not need exercise. It still needs to remain active as it will keep its bones and muscles strong. Exercise would also help in maintaining a healthy body weight. Some tips for exercising your aging pup are:
Enjoy a regular walking routine along with your dog – Every dog must have a regular walk, and in this matter, senior dogs aren’t an exception. Though a senior dog can’t continue a 4-hour hike, it can enjoy a good stroll around your neighborhood. If you find this thing to be a bit boring, you can make your aging pup have more fun by allowing it to take regular sniff breaks. Now, if your dog has got some mobility issues or is out of shape, then you must stick it to only flat surfaces.
Take baby steps – When your dog becomes a senior, instead of remaining a puppy, you must take baby steps. Based on the shape of your dog, you must begin slowly. Again, you must not begin a different exercise routine. You can’t expect your dog to run 3 miles with you any longer. You must be observant of the attitude of your dog, its heart rate, and breathing. When your dog looks over-exerted, you need to stop and never compel it to carry on.
Don’t change your dog’s exercise routine abruptly – When the matter zeroes on exercising your dog, you must have a consultation with your veterinarian. Only after this can you change its routine. It is always a nice idea to jot down your concerns and questions before the appointment so that you do not miss anything. Your vet, after assessing the condition of your dog, will tell you about some exercise routines that would suit your dog well.
Cross-train your dog – Though it sounds funny to get engaged in cross-training with your pet, it is mandatory. Cross-training helps rest some parts of the body when you work to build strength. You can use several methods to exercise the body of your dog outside of running and walking, and commonly they involve lots of tasty treats. With time, dogs’ pilates and yoga for dogs are gaining huge popularity as they provide various physical and mental benefits to dogs regardless of their age levels. Cross-training seems lots of fun for people as well as dogs, and your dog, too, will love it as you do.
Concentrate on the weaker areas – When your dog suffers from an ailment, like hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, or an injury, you can consider some physical activities, including the ones that would ease the stress on joints and also strengthen the muscles. However, you must never overdo any exercise. Again, you must not attempt to treat an ailment without taking the suggestions of your vet. When you work on your dog’s problem areas, it will strengthen those spots. Additionally, it will make all activities thrilling for your pet. You must give priority to the well-being and comfort of your dog, and if you find something too difficult or painful for your dog, you must not allow your dog to do it.
Include some mental exercises – You must add some mental exercises to your dog’s routine besides mental stimulation. Some modest nose work games, like discovering the treats, will make your dog’s brain engaged. Additionally, it will also encourage it to remain active indoors. You need to include some activities and extra games so that your dog enjoys staying indoors. To give your dog mental stimulation, you can use a stuffed Kong, use some food dispensing toys, play hide and seek, etc.
See whether or not your dog is suffering from some pain – When you begin a new exercise routine, you must see that your dog isn’t suffering from any pain or discomfort, like wanting to slow down or limping. If your pet shows any sign of discomfort, you must allow it to take a rest. You must be mindful that dogs don’t cry or moan when they suffer from pain; hence, you must observe their behavior and body language before you begin a fresh exercise routine. In the process, if you confront any concerns or questions, you must consult your vet. He will be able to guide you in the ideal direction when the matter comes to assessing the level of activity that would be ideal for your pet.
Remain consistent – When you exercise your dog, you must remain consistent. You must keep in mind that a regular 20-minute walk is better than walking for a couple of hours. When dogs do not get sufficient exercise, they injure themselves compared to dogs that go through regular exercise. However, being consistent does not mean you must do every exercise at the exact time, but it is related to the amount and intensity of the exercise that your dog does every day. You must mix up your dog’s routine to keep things interesting.
Remain slow while introducing a new routine – When you exercise your senior dog, you must begin slowly. Similar to humans, dogs, too, become over-exerted when they exercise. This is particularly true for dogs that have gone out of shape. Hence, it is important to begin slowly and enhance the activities of your dog to avert injuries.
Reassess – After your dog starts a new exercise regimen, you must tailor it carefully. Additionally, you must re-adjust the exercise programs so that your dog adjusts to them well. You must keep in mind that your dog must enjoy every exercise and have fun.
Things you must not do with your dog
When you deal with your senior dog, you must avoid doing some things like:
Never push your dog to cross its limits – Every dog owner must keep in mind that not all senior dogs are the same, so they can’t do all kinds of physical activities. A few dogs can hike and run with their owners, while some require additional support. However, you must never push your dog to do what it can’t.
Never fail to follow a routine – You must be consistent when you teach your dog a novice command. While developing exercise plans for your dog, you must remain assured that it has fitted into its routine well.
Don’t allow your dog to put on weight – Similar to humans, aging is a natural process that comes in every dog’s life. By the time a dog reaches its middle age, it slows down. Some begin to develop chronic illnesses. Though all dogs turn less active when they age, overweight dogs become prone to some diseases. This is the reason exercise is hugely vital to improving your senior dog’s quality of life.