You know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks”? Well whoever coined the term wasn’t entirely accurate. As with humans, remaining mentally keen helps with overall health and happiness. Challenge yourself and enrich their lives with tricks taught throughout life.
For senior pets, long ago are the hours of fetch or batting the feather wand; with age comes physical constraints: sore limbs, sensitive joints and overall decreased flexibility.
- Jumping, running, or agility tasks may now be challenging.
- Decreased dental and jaw strength may impact tricks with toys.
- Poor vision may reduce environmental awareness and reaction capabilities.
- Hearing may be skewed or commands inaudible.
However, despite the lack of pep in their step, the desire and necessity for mental stimulation and physical activity remains.
Instead of strenuous or vigorous exercises that are no longer feasible with age, consider activities and tricks that aid in improving their health and that are fun for the both of you!
- Advance Current Tricks (Sit to Sit Pretty, Sitting to Bow, Laying to Crawling or Playing Dead) expand their skillset by easing from the known into the new.
- Walking Backwards or Weaving leads to increased nimbleness and spatial awareness.
- Learn with Objects: Object Recognition and Identification, Fetching for Objects (a Leash, Dish, pair of Shoes or Toy), or Hide & Seek.
- Tricks that don’t require too much movement such as Counting or Left & Right.
- Ringing a Bell, help your maturing mate let you know when they need to go out, as it may increase in frequency with age.
The feelings of accomplishment and excitement from the success of a newly learned skill are mutual. Remember praise before treats and eventually weaning to praise alone and clear one to two syllable commands.
Please be cautious and aware of your critter’s limitations prior to any increased exercises or tricks. Increased physical activity should be introduced slowly as to never overwhelm your furry pal’s system. Be sure to contact us at Hometown Veterinary Care if you have questions or concerns before training your elderly pet.