Do you have a senior dog?  Well, I do and I often wonder if there are some games that I can play with him.  He doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything these days, so I was thinking that I could maybe get him interested in some fun games!

I’ve been told that a lot of times senior dogs want to play, but their body doesn’t always allow them to.  It’s been said that often the mind is willing and the body wants to follow, but because of their age, it’s not always possible.  If you can find an interactive game for your older dog to play while he is lying down, it will help engage his brain.

I have found a few games to play with Scout.  If you are looking for some games to play with your senior dog, you might try some of these!

The Cup Game

This game consists of placing a tasty treat under a plastic cup and sliding it toward your dog.  Most likely, he will smell the treat and will tip the cup over in seconds to get the treat.  Repeat, but make it a little more challenging for your dog.  Try placing a small dish towel over the top of the cup.  Depending on your dog, he will either paw at it or tip it and push it around with his nose.  If you have a really smart dog, he will most likely just grab the towel and remove it from the cup with his teeth.

Older Dog

This is Scout. He turned 13 years old November, 2014.

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek is a great game to play with any dog!  My daughter used to play this game with Summer, our yellow Lab that is no longer with us.  The two of them spent countless hours playing this game!  Everyone knows how to play Hide and Seek from their younger days, but playing it with your dog is a little different.  You should hide somewhere in your house and call your dog.  When he finds you, be sure to give him a reward.

Unfortunately, this is a game that we can’t play with Scout because he is a little hard of hearing.  But, if your dog’s hearing is okay, this is a great game to play with him!  It’s fun, and is also good for learning or reinforcing recall.

Dog Puzzles

We have all seen those interactive puzzles and toys that can store treats inside.  These kinds of toys are great for dogs that can’t do more strenuous exercise.  Make sure that the holes in the toys are big enough for your furry friend to get the treats out, or he will become frustrated.  Don’t leave these kinds of toys on the floor all of the time, as your dog will become bored with them and won’t be motivated to play with them.  When you feel like your dog needs something to do, pull out the toy or toys and let him play with them.  Your dog’s eyes will brighten when he sees the toys!

Exercises for Older Dogs that are Sense Stimulating

When you notice that your dog is slowing down and sleeping more, it is time to start engaging him in mind and body stimulating exercises.  If you start these exercises in the early mental decline of your dog, you should do them for about 10 minutes.  If your dog is an older, debilitated dog, one minute maybe enough time to do the exercises with him.  These are some sense stimulating exercises you might want to try with your older dog:

  • Place hair scrunchies on different legs.  Make sure they are loose.  The purpose of this exercise is to help with joint position sense.
  • Tickling your furry friend on the face gently will help stimulate cranial nerves that can stimulate the mid-brain.  This will help with tearing and salivation.  The same principle works for older, weaker dogs but you should tickle him farther from the central system.  For example, tickle his toes to enhance touch, local withdrawal reflexes, and position awareness.
  • You can gently push against Fido’s hip when he is standing.  His normal reflex should be to push against your hand which is why dogs normally lean into us.  If Fido doesn’t push back, try swaying him gently to stimulate the reflex.
  • If your furry friend has potty accidents try pinching and tickling him gently around the head of his tail and around the parts that he uses to potty with.

Pushing on your dog, pinching his toes, gently tickling, etc. will stimulate his local reflexes which will strengthen his local muscles.  These activities will cause sensations at the local level of the spinal cord, sending information telling the brain that these parts of his body still exist and need input from the brain.  These exercises stimulate the dog’s brain indirectly without giving the older dog’s brain too much information to process.

Most pet parents will do anything to help prolong their furry friend’s life quality and time.  By doing these exercises with your dog, they might do just that.  While doing these exercises, look for subtle changes and little improvements.  If your dog can stand a little longer and push a little harder, that is an improvement!  Take it slow and you never know what might happen!

Do you  have games that you play with your senior dog?  If you do, we would love to hear about them!  Please write about them in the comment section!  Can’t wait to hear what kind of games you play with your beloved friend!

Filed under: Caring For Your Senior Dog

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