Simply put, absolutely.
Not only can older dogs still learn new tricks, it is imperative to their health and quality life that they continue to be stimulated. Just like people, as we age we tend to slow down a little. Our metabolism slows down, our energy levels drop and even our physical and mental abilities slow if we do not create consistent stimulation. Dogs are the exact same. Owners may follow their aging dog’s lead by exercising and playing less since their natural tendency may be to lounge around and sleep more often, but this is not in their best interest. By continually challenging your dog with physical exercise and mental stimulation you are helping your dog continue living life to the fullest and experience a better quality of life.
If your dog is already in a rut of sleeping all day, it is not too late. You will want to gradually bring your dog back to speed by incorporating exercise and mental stimulation. Rather than jumping into a half-day hike up the mountain, try a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood instead. As you increase his exercise, pay close attention to your dog’s cues. If he needs to rest, let him. After an extended period of not exercising, muscles are not as strong and conditioned as they once were. It can be difficult for your dog to get back to a physical routine. As well, while dogs age, they may begin to develop arthritis and joint problems.
It is also important to mentally stimulate your senior dog’s mind daily. This is easily done by providing mentally challenging play, like putting treats or food in a Buster Cube and letting your dog figure out how to get the food out. You could try teaching your dog new tricks. Keep in mind that, like a puppy, your senior dog will have a shorter attention span, so short intervals in teaching your dog new tricks are better. With lots of repetition your dog can master new tricks.
By implementing brain teasers and new information for your dog to learn daily, you are helping keep his mind sharp and giving him purpose. When older dogs are left alone to sleep all day they can develop depression. You can help give your senior dog the best life possible by incorporating these simple steps back into your daily routines. Not only will you see your dog get a little more skip in his step, you’ll be providing him the best life possible. It’s perfect for the two of you to continue your relationship and bonding as you work together learning new ticks and playing games while getting some much needed physical activity.
No one likes to see their loved ones age. Do your part in helping your dog age gracefully by providing the necessary stimulation he needs to stay young at heart, both physically and mentally!
Dr. Susan Wright DMV has been a practicing veterinarian more than 10 years. Susan is the staff dog bark collar expert for Dog Fence DIY.