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How can I keep my old dog amused?

(11 Posts)
mamager Thu 31-Mar-16 10:33:11

I don't know what's up with my dog - he hangs around me constantly looking at me beseechingly. Mainly he wants me to take him out for a walk, but I already take him out 3 or 4 times a day for short walks as he is 13 and 50kg, so not exactly sprightly. We also have a sunny garden where he could lie out.

I took him out an hour ago so he doesn't need a wee (he won't wee in the garden). He has had half a kilo of his food. But I am trying to work and he is just at my feet making begging noises.

I've only had him a year and don't really know much about dogs, so I'm not sure if I've been too soft on him (he's gorgeous).

Help me please!

pigsDOfly Thu 31-Mar-16 12:13:45

Do you do any training with him? Most dogs love to learn, and love the praise when they get it right.

I know he's old, but he might enjoy doing a few things that don't require too much leaping around but exercise his brain. Exercising his brain will tire him out more than walks and it might mean he'll be more relaxed so he won't focus on you so much.

mamager Thu 31-Mar-16 13:59:22

Thanks Pigsdont, can you give me any ideas of the sort of things I could do with him? I've never trained a dog before.

pigsDOfly Thu 31-Mar-16 17:19:08

I take it he knows all the basics like sit and stay etc if not you could start with that sort of thing.

I do things like finding a treat under one of five plastic cups, or you could hide treats and let him sniff them out - depending on his sense of smell. You could teach him high 5 or shake hands. My little dog has just mastered 'where's the ball', when asked, she has to touch the ball with her paw and then she gets a treat.

I'd keep it very simple as he's very old. Although you might find he isn't interested if he's never done that sort of thing before. Worth a try though. Google trick for dogs, there's so much on the net.

Have you tried giving him some of his food in a Kong, rather than in a bowl. That will keep him occupied for some time. Does he have toys and things to occupy him.

The problem is that if he's never done any of these things he might just not understand at his age. He might just be asking for a few extra tummy rubs. My dog loves having a gentle back massage (she's not old BTW) but would let me rub her back and shoulders for hours if I would smile.

Google Tellington TTouch. It's a kind of dog massage that will help relax your dog and is a lovely way to help you bond with him.

mudandmayhem01 Thu 31-Mar-16 17:24:06

Its hard, my lovely dog is nearly 16, he used to come running with me everyday and now can only manage a half hour shuffle in the woods, he looks so sad and confused when I go out without him. He is still nice and slim but food obsessed ( never used to be) keeps looking at empty bowl as so he has forgotten he has had his dinner. I think he might be developing mild dementia, is this something that happens to dogs?

mamager Thu 31-Mar-16 17:33:43

Thanks for your posts. I just got back from the pet shop with a kong style boredom-breaker thing, but he ate it in under three minutes. Admittedly he wasn't bored for those 3 minutes!

I love the trick ideas, I will give it a try. I'm just not sure he'll get it - he's not exactly sharp at the best of times.

It doesn't help that our house is 3 storey but he can't manage the stairs so is always in the kitchen diner which leads out to the garden. He barks when I go upstairs sad. We both work from home and have 2 DC so he isn't alone much. We also have several neighbours who pop in to see him (he inspires adoration in all around him).

mamager Thu 31-Mar-16 17:34:01

Brilliant ideas, thanks so much!

pigsDOfly Thu 31-Mar-16 17:35:10

Oh that's so sad Mud, getting old is horrible. Bless him, sixteen is a great age for a dog though. I really dread my dog getting old; she's just coming up to her fifth birthday, so a long way to go and by that time I'll probably be lucky if I can manage a half an hours shuffle as well.

I imagine dogs can develop dementia, I know cats can and their behaviour can become quite strange when they do.

EternalWinter Thu 31-Mar-16 17:47:14

Dogs can get 'dementia'. It's known as canine cognitive dysfunction and is caused by physical changes in the brain. If caught early there are treatments available and lots you can do to help OP. I would get a vet check and mention your concerns. Have a Google, there's lots of helpful advice out there. Of course it could just be boredom. Dogs needs active play and interaction and don't forget to praise him when he is settled and behaving well.

mudandmayhem01 Thu 31-Mar-16 20:31:04

You are right about still needing interaction. After reading this I very gently played a bit of ball with him, which the old dog really enjoyed. I thought he was too old to play!

Scuttlebutter Thu 31-Mar-16 23:55:29

Just wanted to add that oldies really do enjoy their training. All our gang are into double figures and love doing stuff with us. Simple clicker work (start with Look at me, and some hand targeting), sit, down or stand. I did a little mini workshop with our 12 year old greyhound boy a couple of weeks ago - he loved it! The key is to build it up in small bite size chunks and to remember that physically they won't be as flexible so go gently on repeated exercises, downs etc. As with humans, oldies actually flourish with plenty of mental stimulation and even things like making sure you vary their walk routes, having days out, playdates with friends, beach trips etc all help to give them a varied, stimulating life. Until recently our 13 year old was enjoying doing Rally classes with me, she probably still could but she has lost vision in her left eye and I didn't think it was fair on her.

I'd also add that I think it's really important with oldies to take a very proactive approach to managing their health. I keep a very close eye on their general fitness and am quick to take them to the vet if I have concerns. These days, there are excellent drugs available for issues like arthritis and a much more positive approach to pain management. We have a superb vet and I feel able to discuss any concerns or changes with her.

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