: Robert Thomas, for TAP
Senior dogs tug at your heartstrings with their grey muzzles and eyes that hold wisdom beyond their years. As your dog ages, it can sometimes feel hard to bond with them as they can no longer do all the things they did when they were puppies. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to bond with your senior dog that you may have never considered!
Here are five!
Go for a Scenic Drive
Car rides don’t have to just be to the vet! If your senior dog loves the car, this is a great option for the two of you to get out of the routine of daily life and spend some time relaxing together. Start by picking a scenic place, whether that be a road through the mountains or one along the beach, or even one through the nearby neighborhood to look at holiday decorations! It doesn’t have to be anywhere particularly special, just somewhere both you and your dog would like to see.
From there it’s as simple as packing your dog up – don’t forget their safety harnesses for the car, a leash and a water bowl – and hitting the road. It can be a half hour drive or a three hour drive. If the weather is nice, put down the windows to breathe the fresh air. Play music you enjoy, and even sing along if you want! There’s no question your dog will have the time of their life with you, and they didn’t have to do anything other than tag along.
Explore a New Place
Even if your dog can’t do the hikes they used to, there’s no reason you still can’t take them exploring at a new place. Find your nearest State Park and have dinner together at one of the dog friendly picnic areas. If your rescue dog is a Pitsky, or a type of pitbull mix, take them hiking! If your senior dog is a Labrador Retriever or another breed that loves water, take them to a nearby creek with a sandy bank so they can walk along in the water without tripping. Swimming is excellent exercise for senior dogs, just make sure to take their life jacket! Find a scenic overlook and watch a sunset together, many of them you can drive right up to.
Recognizing that your senior dog isn’t as mobile as they used to be doesn’t mean your exploring days are over, it just means you have to readjust the planning of your adventures.
Go to the Dog Park
Going to the dog park doesn’t mean your dog has to run and play, oftentimes senior dogs are just content laying at your feet and watching other dogs!
Dogs strongly rely on their sense of smell for information about the world around them, and a dog park is a fun place to expose them to new scents. The opportunity to smell, take in the outdoors and watch other dogs provides mental stimulation for your senior dog, and they don’t ever have to leave your side!
The dog park is also an awesome place to work on commands with your senior pup. If you’ve had them their whole life, they probably know and execute basic commands very successfully. Working on commands at a dog park provides an additional level of distraction for them, and also helps keep the important commands fresh in their mind.
Proper socialization is important throughout the entire life of your dog. Giving them the opportunity to meet people and other dogs as well as practice their training will keep them mentally fresh, and contribute positively to their overall wellbeing.
Take Your Senior Dog on a Date
Lately, dog friendly restaurants and breweries have become very popular. What is more relaxing than enjoying a nice meal, or a cold drink with your best friend? If your dog is a social butterfly, then this is the idea for you!
Research a dog friendly restaurant or brewery in your area that you’ve never tried. Oftentimes a place being dog friendly is something they are very proud of, and that information will be displayed readily on their website. If you’re unsure of a certain place, call and ask! Pick a nice evening and take your dog on a date! Many dog friendly places will have different foods specific for dogs, but feel free to take their kibble. You can even invite friends and their dogs to join in on the fun!
Take Photos Together
Photos are the one memory that lasts a lifetime, and there’s no better way to capture the bond you and your senior dog share than taking photos together. You can schedule a photoshoot with a photographer in one of your favorite places, ask a friend to snap some pics for you or you can even take the photos using your cell phone camera timer! The quality doesn’t matter, the time you spend together does.
Regardless of how the photos are being taken, spend time with your dog preparing for them! Take your dog to the place you’re getting photos taken prior to the photoshoot and allow them to explore so they’ll be comfortable when the day comes. Pick out an outfit and matching bandana or collar. Get some props like a picnic blanket or holiday decorations fitting the time of year. The sky’s the limit for these photos, they can be whatever you want them to be!
Before the photoshoot, spend time grooming your dog. Brush out their fur, trim their nails and clean their ears. Grooming is another way to get in that quality time. When you’re both ready for the photoshoot, take lots of treats and toys and go have fun! You and your senior dog will love the time spent together, and those are memories you’ll cherish for the rest of your life!
In a world where dogs are widely accepted as man’s best friend, there’s lots of fun and easy options to bond with your senior pup. Regardless of what you choose to do, just get out and do something with them, you won’t regret the time you spent together!