Why Old Pets Are Good Pets
My dog is seven years, is a senior. It has been an incredible journey, and as Sasha has become older and my training has improved, why are we continuing to do new and fun adventures together!
As pet ages, life gets more interesting. Senior pets hold a special place in my heart. I have a fabulous senior dog Neo, my cousin's dog, in my life, who is such a trouper. Even though he is 15 years old, he loves life. Neo and I are old friends, and I have fun teaching his owner wonderful activities to do together. When they visit, I always try to have a new training idea to help keep him healthy.
Old pets are good pets. Whether you're looking to adopt a senior pet or growing old with your own, here are some of the top reasons older pets are great pet dogs.
When she was a puppy, Sasha went to a couple of classes, and I noticed a behavior change that was not positive. So I looked far and wide for some fun activities to do with her in training. Eventually, I decided I would become a dog trainer and offer classes like I would want to do with my dog. To this day, I continue to find fun ways to train dogs in a fun, enriching way. Just this month, I became an AKC CGC and Fit Dog Level 1 evaluator!
When is a Pet Considered a Senior?
So really, at what age does a pet become a "senior?" That depends.
● According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cats become seniors after age of 10.
● The AVMA also points to various experts who suggest a dog is senior when they hit the last 25% of their life expectancy.
Because size plays a significant role for when a dog is thought of as senior, it's Challenging to state a specific age. Larger breeds tend to age faster. For example, a large breed dog like a Shepard will generally become a senior sooner than a small breed like Sasha, a Dachshund.
Regardless of your pet's age, you might have a senior pet if you or your vet start seeing signs of aging. No worries, though. It's the next natural stage in their life and your relationship!
Reasons Old Pets are Fabulous.
Senior pets are fun. After seven years with my dog, she knows, without a doubt, she can count on me. However, with a puppy, it can take quite some time for them to warm up to their new human.
A quick way to build trust and relationships is to Ditch the Bowl and feed your pup by hand for some of their daily food allowance. Try walking around your home, and when your puppy comes up to you, provide them for coming in proximity to you.
Oh, training! As a dog trainer, I get many calls from dog owners who are still struggling eight months later with potty training. Many people have potty training difficulties with young puppies and have trouble being consistent to help make training clear to their new family members. The frustration you feel. Unfortunately, your puppy will also feel, which can take time to rebuild.
Older pets are most likely already trained. They might need a refresher, but chances are, they already know how to go outside and go potty without much help from new pet parents.
Less time you are destroying. If you've ever raised a young puppy, you already know how destructive they can be. Older dogs are much less likely to chew up your furniture, eat your shoes or again pee in the home. A nap in the sun is more their speed (some days mine too!)
Their love is mature. Older dogs love you. They understand a good thing and (usually) have the maturity to be a great companion. So while youngsters might need to learn the boundaries, seniors are more likely to know things like nipping=uncool and naps=awesome.
Check out our Eco-Friendly Games blog for significant enrichment for senior dogs.
What makes you happiest about life with a senior pet? Please find me on social at @gooddogconcepttraining and let me know!
Tips for Bringing Home an Older Dog:
Create a Safe Space: Prepare a designated area in your home where the dog can feel safe and secure. Provide a comfortable bed, water bowl, toys, and a few familiar items from their previous environment to help them settle in and feel more at ease.
Establish a Routine: Older dogs thrive on routine, so establish a consistent daily schedule for feeding, exercise, and bathroom breaks. Maintaining a predictable routine can help the dog feel secure and quickly adapt to their new environment.
Gradual Introductions: Gradually introduce your older dog to family members, other pets, and new surroundings. Avoid overwhelming them with too many new experiences at once. Instead, give them time to adjust and slowly introduce them to new people and environments to prevent unnecessary stress.
Offer Gentle Training and Reinforcement: While older dogs may already have some training, it's important to reinforce positive behaviors and provide gentle guidance. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards to encourage desired behaviors and build a strong bond with your new companion.
Show Patience and Love: Older dogs may take longer to adapt to their new home and family. Show patience, understanding, and much love during this transition period. Give them space when needed and provide plenty of affection and reassurance to help them feel secure and loved in their new environment.
Provide a Comforting Environment: Create a calming and soothing environment for your older dog. Use soft bedding, provide a cozy and quiet space, and consider using pheromone diffusers or calming music to help them feel secure and relaxed. Minimize loud noises or sudden movements that may startle them during their initial adjustment period.
Enrichment Ideas for Older Dogs:
Puzzle Toys: Invest in puzzle toys designed for senior dogs to keep their minds engaged and provide mental stimulation. These toys usually require the dog to solve a problem or figure out how to retrieve treats, keeping them mentally active and entertained.
Nose Work: Engage your older dog's sense of smell by hiding treats or toys around the house or in the yard. This activity taps into their natural instincts and provides mental stimulation. Start with easy hiding spots and gradually increase the difficulty as they become more proficient.
Gentle Training and Tricks: Teach your older dog new tricks or reinforce previously learned commands. This keeps their minds active and strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Use positive reinforcement techniques, break down tasks into manageable steps, and reward their efforts with treats and praise.
Remember to consider your dog's abilities and limitations when introducing new enrichment activities. For example, older dogs may have physical limitations, so it's crucial to adapt activities to suit their needs and ensure their safety and comfort.