Your loyal companion was there for you during lockdown, entertaining you, relieving your stress, photo-bombing your Zoom meetings… Repay that kindness and nourish your connection even if you’re back in the saddle at work.
“What’s important is that you set aside the time to create DAILY opportunities for engagement – not just “weekend warrior” sessions,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
“Aging pets enjoy routine engagement and need dedicated, age-appropriate exercise and sunshine beyond a simple walk.”
Here are just a few great ways you can “up” your pet’s “game.”
- Daily Training – Just like an Olympic athlete, dedicated daily training is a must to keep Fido’s cognition firing. Teach old dogs new tricks. Build rewarded commands into daily routines, such as “wait” at meals and “stop/sit/stay/come” during walks or play. Dogs enjoy getting it right.
- AquaMan’s Best Friend – For arthritic pets, swimming can help keep the muscles moving without stressing the joints. Even wading pools can give your old dog a bit of relief. A trip to a dog pond (eg. Shaggy Pines Dog Park) or the Lake (eg. Kirk Park) or a friendly neighborhood Dog pool (eg. K9 Athletics) offer great opportunities for low impact exercise.
- Feline Fun – Dog aren’t the only contenders in Senior Olympics. Cats can combat cognitive decline with interactive food dispensing toys and games that trigger the hunter within. Hide treats under egg cartons or get out the flirt pole. High perch climbing equipment and a visually stimulating window (eg. put a bird feeder within view) will help keep Felix feeling spry.
- Scent-ual Work – Choose a smelly, favorite treat and create a “treat trail” around the yard to get Fido working his or her sniffer. Not only is it an engaging way to deliver goodies (or a meal) – sniffing also relaxes dogs, which may help with separation anxiety.
- Mighty Kong-Quest – Stuff a Kong with treats such as all-natural peanut butter, bananas, plain yogurt or wet food with kibble and freeze. See if your pet can beat their “Personal Record” for time to Kong-quer! Or leave this engaging treat as a parting gift when you’re away.
They say “old” is a state of mind. Help your pet feel young again with daily attention, movement, and novelty. That’s how you “win” the Senior Pet Olympics!