Many of life’s great pleasures get better with age. Wine, friendship… and dogs! With a senior dog, you don’t have to worry about potty training, chewed up furniture, or endless bouts of exercise. Instead, you can just soak up each and every precious moment together, there’s lots to enjoy with an aging dog.
So how old is a senior dog? Generally, a dog is considered senior at 7 years old, but aging symptoms vary amongst breeds. Your dog’s size is also a factor — larger dogs tend to show signs of aging sooner than smaller dogs. In any case, we’d say that life with an older dog has plenty of perks. Here are six reasons why we love senior dogs:
1. Older Dogs Are Already House Trained
Whether you’ve had your senior dog since puppyhood or you adopted one, older dogs are usually already house trained. They’ve also had many years of practice with other behaviours, too — like human commands, relating to other dogs and interacting with humans.
If you’re worried that your older dog is beginning to display some signs of dog aging — like accidents in the house — don’t get discouraged. Incontinence in older dogs is normal. At Dog Quality, we offer things for senior dogs like dog nappies and dog pads that help you with senior dog care.
2. Senior Dogs Can Learn New Tricks!
Good news! The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is, by-and-large, totally false. Since you’re not spending time with puppy basics, old age in dogs is a great time to engage your dog’s mental well being by teaching him new things. Reportedly, aging dogs can learn new tricks and behaviours just as well as younger dogs — even better in some cases. In one study, older dogs did better than younger dogs in a “logical reasoning” task: choosing the correct, “new” option over an old option that previously was not rewarded. Just have patience with your older dog; an old dog learning new tricks is a tortoise-and-hare situation — he’ll reach his destination slow and steady.
3. Old Dog, New You
So you’re teaching your old dog new tricks and he’s enjoying new experiences. How about you? Living with a senior dog is great inspiration for shaking up your own routine and habits. Maybe your older dog needs more rest and less exercise. So, turn your previously brisk walks or jogs into slower walks, where you both take time to “stop and smell the roses”. Are you taking shorter routes? This is a chance to try new places you haven’t walked before. A different dog park could mean fresh stimulation, plus new dog and human friends.
If your elderly dog has mobility issues, it’s still important to get outside. Our dog buggies help elderly dogs get the stimulation, bathroom breaks, and exercise they need. You can take your older dog out to stretch his legs and see the sites while ensuring that rest is also available.
4. Get More Cuddle Time With An Elderly Dog
Dogs in old age tend to like cuddling more — senior dogs are more laid back than in their younger years and, as mentioned earlier, they don’t need as much exercise. Cuddling is not only physical rest for your older dog, but also a bonding experience; research shows that dogs can read human emotions. Centuries’ worth of domestication has trained them to pair vocal cues with facial expressions, allowing them to read our feelings. And senior dogs have had many years of practice. When you feel happy and calm, your senior dog can sense your positive mood and sit with you for a contented snuggle. When you’re tired or a little down, your senior dog is there to offer comfort and unconditional acceptance. Take this time to pet your senior dog, too; like with humans, touch releases oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin relieves stress and enhances the overall well-being of your dog.
5. Older Dogs Can Make Great Puppy Mentors
A dog in old age can act like a mentor for a new puppy; your senior dog can model house training and temper your puppy’s rambunctious play behaviours. Many sources say that introducing a puppy to an older dog can be a bit tricky, but it’s something to consider — the resulting relationship can be worth it. You just have to maintain your older dog as the priority. Here a few things that make the introduction smoother:
- Choose a puppy of the opposite sex than your older dog
- Pick a personality or breed that meshes with your older dog
- Make sure you can devote the time and patience to their relationship
- Give your puppy plenty of exercise
- Supervise the times when your older dog and puppy are together
6. What You See Is What You Get
With older dogs, there’s no mystery involved when it comes to personality or temperament. If you’ve had your dog for many years, you’ve grown to know your senior dog really well. So well, in fact, that you can anticipate your older dog’s needs and moods. You and your senior dog are truly best friends.
If you’re thinking about adopting, consider an older dog instead of a puppy — what you see is what you get with a senior dog. There’s no guesswork as to temperament, grooming needs, exercise, and you know a senior dog won’t grow any bigger!Dog Quality is all about helping senior dogs live life to the fullest. Shorter walks, longer cuddles and new tricks? The years you spend with your older dog can be the most rewarding ones. Check out our collection of senior dog pet gear and make your dog’s golden years happy and comfortable.