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5 Brain Games to Stimulate Older Dogs
Old dogs may be lazy but they still enjoy going for walks and learning new tricks. Doing so also aids those with disabilities to function on a normal level.
As dogs age it is not only their bodies that slow down, some also develop canine cognitive dysfunction. This is similar to Alzheimer's Disease, in that the dog can become forgetful and lose track of their daily schedule. Sometimes they even forget where they are and whom they are with. This causes further disruptions in their lives such as not sleeping or eating well. Here are five ways that you can help your dog maintain a relaxed attitude when she's feeling a little off kilter due to age related Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
1. Keep the Train on Time
The Wag-N-Train, that is. Dogs thrive on knowing what to expect and when. This means maintaining a specific feeding and exercise schedule. When dogs are feeling out of sorts due to physiological changes, it is comforting to them to know what will happen, and when.
Not only should you maintain a good feeding and exercise schedule, but also time alone with you. Dogs love to be the center of attention. A dog who might feel mopey or lethargic can get an instant burst of energy when she knows she's going to get some treats for performing an old obedience routine or some tricks. Dogs love learning, even when they're old.
2. Jog to Bed
Many old dogs, especially those with canine cognitive dysfunction, have a tendency to pace and whine at night when everybody has gone to bed. When the dog was younger she would normally sleep at this time, but now her biological clock is askew due to the synapses of her brain not firing as they should.
The best means of ensuring your old dog will sleep is to give her a lot of exercise just before bedtime. A tired dog is less likely to have the energy to pace and whine. Generally, it only takes 20 minutes of your time to play a dog game such as fetch, or go for a walk around the block. When you return home your dog will be…let's put it this way: dog tired!
3. Change it Up
Some older dogs lose their desire to eat the same old thing. Many really need fresh nutrients to keep their brains functioning properly as well. Keep their meals interesting by ensuring the food has vegetables, fruit and cooked meats included. These will provide the added nutrients they need to maintain their overall physique and keep their minds sharper.
4. Old Dogs Love New Tricks
Dogs are never too old to learn. In fact, it makes them very excited to learn a new trick. There are many things that you can teach a dog who has canine cognitive dysfunction that will be helpful in their everyday life.
5. Puzzles 'R Us
Dogs enjoy playing puzzle games as much as we do when we're young. For dogs, however, their reward is a well-hidden treat. There are now some great canine puzzle games that can be purchased at pet shops and online pet suppliers that offer a range of simple to complex puzzles where the dog uses her nose to locate hidden treats, then her paws to move about or dislodge a tile covering the treat.
There is no way to reverse canine cognitive dysfunction or the body changes due to becoming geriatric. But you can help your dog maintain a healthy attitude and prolong her life by stimulating her mentally and physically.