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Teaching an Old Dog a New Trick

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Your pooch may not want to chase a ball all day, or test the latest equipment at the dog park – but daily exercise is still an important part of your older pups health and wellbeing.

Why exercise is still important to Senior dogs

You may think that because your dog is showing signs of joint issues like arthritis and generally ‘slowing down’, it might be time to call time on spending hours chasing a ball and outdoor adventures. However, this isn’t the case. Fido might be generally taking things a lot calmer these days, but your dog will still be waiting eagerly to hear those magic words ‘walkies’! 

Exercise for senior dogs is still extremely important. Not only is it important to keep them active for all the usual reasons we would a younger dog, but also for things like:

  • Heart health
  • Keeping them lean and muscles strong
  • Mental stimulation
  • Not maintaining regular exercise will actually exacerbate any joint issues making the problem worse

If you stop their regular exercise, it can lead to further stiffness and injury. So, perhaps instead of heading out for your daily 5k run (!!) you need to rethink what exercise means for your pup and what is achievable at their current stage of life.

Switching up your routine

Shorter walks more often is generally the best advice for your dog. This will allow your dog to get movement they need in order to combat joint stiffness, aid mobility and still work off those calories consumed. A few short walks may be more beneficial than one long one less often.

The following are types of exercise you could try

  • Gentle walks on soft grassy undulating surfaces
  • Swimming at the beach or pool if it’s not too cold, and introduced slowly. Swimming can be an excellent choice for pups needing to lose weight but need gentle exercise, check out your local hydrotherapy pool for more information
  • Getting playful with games like tug-of-war or ones that require mental stimulation
  • Training is a great way to keep an older mind active
  • Socialising with other dogs their own age (minus any puppy antics!)

What to avoid

  • Any activity that involves fast exercise like throwing a ball or sudden change in direction and speed. 
  • Not expecting too much from your dog, keep an eye on their energy levels or if they need a moment to catch up with you
  • Avoid putting extra stress on joints by using a ramp to get in and out of the car
  • Keep nails trimmed short. Long nails can alter their walking gait and cause further issues

There are heaps of things you can explore with your older dog, even though it might look different – exercise can still be enjoyable and beneficial to your dog’s overall health. But most of all fun for both of you!