Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

They say age is just another word for living. The more we age, the longer we live! And that is such a privilege, isn’t it? It is the same with our dogs. I take great pride in my 12-year-old staffy healthily sitting by my side. His muzzle may be grey and his body a little less muscly, but to him; life is to be lived, and boy does he live it!

We want our dogs to live as long as they possibly can, but often the process of ageing can make life less comfortable and enjoyable, especially if we don’t engage in preventative measures. Whilst we cannot make our dogs live forever (despite our very best efforts), we can at the very least make the ageing period comfortable, purposeful and free of ailments as much as possible.

There is a wealth of evidence that shows there is an increase in lifespan when we are more active. Similarly, exercise is critical when it comes to maintaining optimal health for ageing dogs. Exercise requirements change along the lifecycle, becoming a routine of less impact and more strength building. Additionally, mental exercise is just as important as physical stimulation. The more you can get your dog thinking, the more you exercise their cognitive skills, and that is really important for old doggos.

Happy labrador retriever looking up with its tonge out

Here are some tips to keep your best friend active both mentally and physically:

1. Shorter walks but more often

Depending on the health, size and age of your dog, you may need to modify your exercise routine over time. Switch from pounding heavy pavements to softer grass, and reduce the athletic strain of catching the ball in a game of fetch. Knees and hips can suffer from pivoting and tumbling games. So, keep it short, light and often.

2. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is excellent for strength and endurance. There are many clinics that offer this service; and wading in shallow pools, or the beach may be a nice substitute in-between visit.

3. Teach your dog to use its nose to find food

This is a terrific low-impact sport for your dog and so good for its nose and mind. You can do this by spreading some food out in front of them, or make it more difficult by hiding it. Dogs love to use their nose, and it is such an important and natural behaviour. Interestingly, it can reduce greedy dogs from guzzling all their food down at once, by extending the time it takes to actually find their food. Remember, having a sense of purpose is so important for us as humans. It is no different for a dog, and working for food actually increases their sense of happiness, too.

4. It is actually a great idea to teach your dog a new trick

And yes, old dogs can learn new tricks! As long as your dog is motivated to work for you with high-value treats and fun, you can teach them something new. This might even be a behaviour routine that equally benefits their physical strength exercises as well!

5. Supplementation can be helpful

Supplements can be used to help alleviate symptoms associated with age-related decline. ZamiPet supplements are formulated by leading Australian veterinarians to help keep dogs in optimal health. For older dogs, ZamiPet Senior Support is specially formulated with Omega-3, Turmeric, CoQ10, L-Carnitine and Lutein to support immune, eye, heart and brain health. ZamiPet Joint Protect, containing key ingredients Chondroitin, Glucosamine and Hyaluronic Acid, is another great option for the maintenance of joint health in our ageing companions, and long-term use may help improve joint function.

So, if you look at your very best friend and notice a little greying around the face, a slight stiffness when getting out of bed, or even a bit of confusion here and there, it may be time to add some supplements to their diet. If we could make them live forever, we would. But, at least for now, we know that we can help support them into old age with love, comfort and the very best care possible.

Laura V