Dogs are beloved by everyone. Their loyal, friendly, playful nature makes them an adorable pet. Their lifespan is not as long as humans as they age faster, so it is essential to provide them with mental stimulation through various means. However, dogs are never too old for fun enrichment activities. But, why is enrichment significant for senior dogs?
Providing senior dogs with enrichment can prevent them from getting bored. As dogs age, they start getting frustrated since they can no longer perform as well physically as they did at their prime age. So, it is necessary to keep them engaged in activities to prevent behavioral issues. Doing such activities also aids in brain growth and development, and improves their social skills. Such activities can also help prevent the signs of depression in aging dogs and make them feel loved and happier.
Now that we have covered the importance of enrichment for senior dogs, we can move onto how dog owners can provide it. If you are looking for ways to improve your senior pet’s life, you are at the right place. We’ve covered what you can do to enrich your dog’s life:
Dogs are naturally playful and social pets unless trained otherwise. So, socializing with other dogs is part of their basic needs. Just like humans have the need to go out and interact with other beings, so do dogs. Social interactions help build the confidence level of dogs and develop their social skills. It also makes them more friendly and accepting of new things or people.
You can help your best bud by taking him to the park or arranging a playdate with another dog owner. Daily walks are also rather important as they are a good form of exercise. Taking the dog to a familiar place where they can run and explore the place without wearing their leash can help them develop their senses and allow them to be social and free. If you work a lot and the dog stays at home alone for too long, you can also consider placing them in a daycare for dogs.
Cognitive enrichment is all about the development of a dog’s brain. It engages them in problem-solving activities and helps them think, which, in turn, increases their cognitive function. It also reduces anxiety in dogs and creates a stronger bond between the dog and the owner.
A dog owner can put this form of enrichment into effect by playing games with their best bud like hide and seek or give them new toys. They can also play treasure hunt with them or teach them new tricks. Rewarding them with treats afterward can also act as an incentive and encourage them to learn or work for it.
You can also give your pet new chew toys. As dog owners already know, dogs chew on anything from shoes to clothes, so it is vital to provide them with chew toys. Chewing releases endorphins in their brains, which has a calming effect on them. You should select a good chew toy according to your pet’s teeth condition because senior dogs generally have old teeth and cannot chew on a hard toy.
This includes any activity that makes your pet’s living space more engaging and exciting. Various studies have shown that dogs who live in a more inviting environment are happier. Therefore, dog owners can improve their dog’s living environment by placing new things in their space, for example, a digging pit.
Digging comes naturally to a dog, so they should have a space to do so without causing any damage to your garden. Placing new things in their area helps them get used to them and reduces their environmental triggers, such as unfamiliar people, which can reduce their behavioral responses to excessive barking, biting or acting out.
Sensory enrichment is a way of improving a dog’s five senses. Dogs hold a rather keen sense of smell and are great at tracking, which is often overlooked or forgotten. As your dog ages, it is essential to make him participate in activities that can keep his sense of smell intact so that it stays as sharp as ever. You can also play games that revolve around the use of your dog’s sense of smell. You can hide meat or bacon in a specific place and ask him to find it.
Music is another way of engaging your pet’s senses. Studies have shown that dogs who listen to a light form of music, such as something from the classical genre, slept better and had reduced stress levels. Furthermore, taking them on walks also allows them to engage their senses as going out of the house will enable them to listen, see, feel, and smell new things.
Nutritional enrichment involves enriching your dog’s life using food. Older dogs usually have reduced appetites and eat less. However, by making mealtime enjoyable through games, you can encourage and engage them to eat. It also gets them excited as they will be happy to work for their food.
You can do so by hiding their food and asking them to find it at mealtime instead of merely putting it in a bowl. You can also measure out their food for the day and make sure that they eat the right amount for their age.
By making sure your dog has some form of enrichment in its life, you make him happier and reduce his chances of getting depressed. It may also cause your dog to live longer. As the saying goes, a healthy dog is a happy dog!
by Maria A Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™ .
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