Watching your pup get older can be rough, even if they manage to age fairly gracefully and with minimal issues. Your senior dog may have limited energy and mobility, and they likely spend more time sleeping. You may find yourself in a position where you want to enjoy the time you have with your dog, but you don’t want to put them in discomfort. This can be a frustrating situation, which is why I’ve compiled a list of ways to help you make the most of your time with your senior pup (yes, in my vernacular, all dogs are “pups,” no matter how old they are).
Perhaps you’ve given up on walking your dog because you think it’s too taxing on him or her. However, if your dog is spending more time sleeping and lying around, walks will help enable their longevity, loosening stiffness in their joints and maintaining strong hearts and lungs. True, you will probably need to reduce the length and frequency of their walks and slow their paces, but even just getting your senior to walk down the street can help them stay strong. Furthermore, your dog will likely enjoy and appreciate it, especially if they see that you’re patient enough to stay by their side at a slow stroll.
2. Wagon Rides
If your senior dog is unable to handle a walk or under orders from your vet to stay off its feet, find them a wagon! Get one that’s big enough for your dog to both sit and lie down in comfortably and pad it with blankets. Pull them around the neighborhood so they can enjoy the fresh air, the change of scenery, and the sights, sounds, and smells. Your dog will probably have fun getting attention from passersby and watching other people and pets.
3. Car Rides
Much like with a wagon ride, a car ride will give your senior the chance to leave the house, move with you without having to put stress on their body, and enjoy several sights, sounds, and scents. Keep in mind that your dog will not be able to stay as steady as they once could and may become nauseated more easily, so you will want to drive at a slower speed. Cruise different neighborhoods and stick to more residential areas, avoiding the highway and places with busier, more rushed traffic. Put on some upbeat tunes and serenade your dog as you drive. They will probably be the only one who doesn’t mind some car karaoke, being more likely to enjoy the positive energy you’re radiating in their company.
You’ll never regret having an abundance of pictures of your dog. Even if you already photograph your pup on the regular, consider scheduling a special photoshoot with them. You can do it at home by having someone else take pictures of you and your pooch in various poses, or you can take your senior to partake in a photoshoot with a professional photographer. Professional photoshoots will give you high-quality pictures in both print form, which can be framed, and digital, which you can keep on a disk or flashdrive and upload as you please. You and your senior will get to have some memorable fun goofing around together, and imagine how special they’ll feel being the center of attention!
Take your dog to a pet store where they’re allowed to come in with you! In addition to getting out of the house, your dog will have fun exploring the different treats and toys throughout the store, along with getting to see other people and pets. Walk out with a new toy, bone, or treat and your pooch will be excited and grateful to go home with a present.
6. Ink Up
If you are someone who likes tattoos, why not get one in honor of your favorite companion? You can take a picture of your dog to an artist and have their face tattooed on you. Or, you can dip your pup’s paw in ink, press their print to paper, and have your dog’s pawprint tattooed. While this isn’t something your dog will understand, an ink representation of your senior may help you stay connected to them throughout your life, giving you a constant reminder of them and the wonderful memories you have.
7. Special Snacks/Meals
Let’s be honest…the best way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach. We live in an age where more research and thought has been put into creating foods that will be both healthy and enticing for your furry pal. There are countless recipes for dog-friendly cakes and cookies. You can find something at a store to bring home for your senior to enjoy or you can make something yourself while they watch and wait with anticipation. With this idea, keep in mind that sudden changes in diet can be trickier for a senior’s body to process, so be sure to consult with your vet beforehand and watch for any unusual symptoms your dog may display in the hours after eating. If you give them the right stuff, feeding your canine a new treat will bring them joy and excitement, and making something for them yourself can strengthen your bond with them.
8. Simply Be
This is the easiest and most surprising way to spend quality time with your senior: enjoy simply being in their company. Whether this is sitting by them at home while they rest or watching the sunset with them on a park bench, just being by your dog will make them happier than you realize. You might feel like being by them as they doze isn’t anything special, but your presence will mean the world to them. Falling asleep with your scent and knowing you’re at their side will give your dog peace and comfort. You can talk to them while sitting outside and, though they won’t know exactly what you’re saying, they’ll appreciate the sound of your voice. It’s understandable to think that it won’t make a difference being home or not if your dog will just sleep the whole time anyway, but to your dog, it’s a big deal, and if you pet, snuggle, or speak to your senior as you sit on the couch or on the porch, you’ll realize what a big deal it is too.