A Dog’s Golden Years Can Be The Best of All
Sure puppies are cute, but who can resist the graying muzzle of an older dog. Their eyes may be hazy, but anyone can see the years of loyalty and love in them. I have a new-found love of senior dogs. They are grounded and determined and have big personalities. They like nothing more than to enjoy life, and they are not afraid to let you know exactly how they feel.
For the most part, older dogs don’t give us much trouble. Unless they have health issues, they are a low maintenance bunch. We see our aging companions differently than younger dogs. It is for that reason the need for training in older dogs is often overlooked.
Older Dogs Need Training, Just a Different Kind
What most owners do not realize is that the benefits of working with Senior Dogs will improve their quality of life in tremendous ways. First and foremost, it is imperative that owners begin to address the changing needs of their dog before they see signs of aging. Doing so can help prolong many of the effects of aging both physically and mentally. Being proactive is the best bet to keeping your dog from slowing down.
Physical changes in a dog’s appearance and movement are among the first changes that people notice when their dog begins to age. Owners may notice their dog’s energy level decreasing, they may slow down in general, they may appear stiff when rising from the floor, or they may stop doing their favorite activities. Owners may notice a change in eye clarity, whitening around the muzzle, and a difference in their coat. These telltale signs are nature’s way of ushering in the golden years. Though we can not undo the aging process, studies have shown that aging effects can be mitigated with training programs designed by trainers credentialed in Senior Wellness. Skilled trainers must work in conjunction with veterinarians to ensure safe programs for a dog. The goal for such programs is designed to strengthen the dog’s body and mind. These programs are very different than typical “training classes” for adolescent and adult dogs.
Often times owners feel that their aging dogs need more rest, and they limit activities and outings. It seems counterintuitive, as many things are with dogs, but senior dogs actually require continued exercise and mental stimulation. As with humans, if you don’t use it you lose it. Senior dogs need to keep moving to help with stiffness, circulation, and heart health to name a few. They also need to keep mentally engaged to stave off cognitive declines such as dementia and depression. A dog left at home day after day with no mental stimulation or play opportunities is more susceptible to such issues like Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Studies by neuroscientists show that playing with senior dogs has a remarkable impact on the aging process.
While in their golden years, dogs do deserve a free pass now and then, they may need their owners now more than ever. Through Senior Dog Training Programs owners have an opportunity to get to know their dogs on a deeper level. Your dog is still in there. She just may be a bit slower and wiser. She still needs you to take care of her aging needs, so she can enjoy more of her life with you.
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