How To Be Active with Your Senior Dog or Medically-Challenged Dog (Early access for our Patreon community)

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

How To Be Active with A Less Active or Medically-Challenged Dog

What can I do with my senior dog
Dexter the Dog living large

Are you seeing a decrease in your dog’s ability to “keep up?” Or maybe he has always been physically challenged. But that doesn’t have to mean the fun is over – far from it. Today is the day to be reinvigorated with fun and engaging ways to bond and spend quality time with your dog, no matter what his limitations are. It’s time to think outside of the box on what you can do with your dog instead of focusing on his limitations. Here are my top seven ways to be active with your less active dog. Please keep in mind that each dog is different in his needs and abilities, and all activities may not be suited for all dogs.

Casual Stroll

If your dog enjoys leisurely walking and sniffing, this is a great addition to his daily routine. Walking can be done in the house, outside in your yard, around the neighborhood, in a pet store, or even in the park; it really depends on how active your dog is. The important thing to keep in mind is to connect with your dog. Engage him on your walks, smell the flowers, smell the vole tunnels, maybe even encourage him to dig one up! You can even teach your dog to sniff on cue, here’s how. Get excited, say “sniffy-sniffy” and point and touch the ground. Point to something that is likely to have some scent interest, like a vole hole or tree trunk. Engage with him and touch the smelling spot and have fun. Then, allow him to sniff or walk away, and do it again on another fun spot. Because you are pointing to spots that are likely to be of prime interest, he will catch on pretty quickly and think you have an amazing ability to find the cool stuff.

Games to play with a disabled dog
Enjoy your surroundings

Dog Stroller Or Wagon

I am personally a huge fan of dog strollers and wagons. This allows a dog to be out on an adventure without the worry that he will get too tired, and even allows him his own personal space. It also is a great back-up plan; if you go for a walk and your dog just can’t keep up, you can pop him into the stroller and continue on. I take my dog Dexter’s stroller with me on every vacation, large adventure, and dog event. Just because your dog may not keep up, doesn’t mean he has to stay home.

How to live with a disabled dog
Dog stroller to the rescue

Biking With Your Dog

No, I’m not talking about your dog running alongside your bike, but instead riding behind your bike in a dog bicycle trailer! Or, if you have a small dog, you can look at dog bicycle seats that attach to the front or rear of a bike. If you are a physically active person, but your dog isn’t, this is a great option to keep you moving and your dog comfortable. With the extra weight of the trailer and your dog, it is a great workout for you, too.

Tricks And Training

Remember, the best way to keep a healthy relationship with your dog is to interact and truly make a connection on a daily basis. Teaching tricks and other behaviors is a wonderful way to bond with your dog and helps to keep your dog’s mind sharp and active. If you have a socially appropriate dog, you may consider attending a positive dog training class to have a fun, weekly outing with your dog.

Find You

Teaching your dog to find you is the dog/person version of hide and seek. It is a pretty easy game to play and you can easily modify it to meet your dog’s needs. Ask your dog to Sit/Stay as you leave the room and tuck yourself behind a piece of furniture, door, or curtains. If he doesn’t know how to stay, just sneak off when he’s not looking. Once you are hidden, quickly say your dog’s name in a sing-song voice, then be quiet. Let him start to look around the house for you. If he is actively looking, stay quiet and give him a chance to find you. If he seems confused, or you hid too well, say his name again. When he finds you, make a big fuss and play.

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Find Toy Or Treat

You can modify the find you game by teaching your dog to find a specific toy, treats, or treat-filled toy. Start by playing with one of your dog’s favorite toys. Get a nice game going. Ask him to Sit/Stay, or hold him back if he does not know how to stay, then place the toy 5′ away from him and say, “Find It!”  Once he grabs the toy, start playing again. As your dog starts to understand the idea of the game, start placing the toy farther away until the toy is eventually out of sight. If you want to use treats or a food-filled toy, repeat the stay exercise, but this time instead of placing the toy, you will place the treats and use another term, such as “Find your treats.”

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Massage And Talking

Turn off your TV, cell phone, and anything else that may disconnect you from your dog. It’s all about communicating your love and attention that really matters. Touch is one of the most powerful forms of connecting with another being. By massaging and talking gently to your dog, you can enhance your friendship and commitment. You don’t have to know any specific ways or techniques, just allow your dog to guide you on where, how long, and how deep. If you would like to learn specific ways to help with physical or mental discomfort, there are a variety of dog massage manuals, classes, and videos.

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The important take-home is to remember to include your dog daily in activities. He may have some limitations, but don’t we all? That doesn’t mean he would prefer to be left out. He’s a valuable family member, and we need to continue to treat him as one.


What games and activities have you found that your dog enjoys?


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How To Be Active with Your Senior Dog or Medically-Challenged Dog (Early access for our Patreon community)