Do you have an older dog? Recent statistics show that 50% of dog owners have a dog who is 7 years or older. Most dogs live to be at least 10 years old, with some small dogs reaching their 20’s. Because dogs are living so long, they have a lot of years to live being not as mentally sharp as they were when they were younger. One common problem with the aging dog is senility. You can think of canine senility as human Alzheimer’s. If your dog already has symptoms of canine senility (such as confusion, forgetting to go outside for the bathroom, crying for no apparent reason), there are some prescription medications that your vet can prescribe. Many prescriptions are actually successful in reversing canine senility symptoms.
A good idea to do is to mentally stimulate your dog throughout his life to prevent canine senility. The best thing to do to prevent canine senility is to:
(1) Provide your dog with puzzles that will challenge their brains. Dog puzzles are a cheap way to keep your dog happy and healthy for many years to come. There are a variety of puzzle dog treats to choose from. One that I have my dogs use is the Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone, pictured to to the right. There are 10 holes where you can hide treats, and 6 disks that your dog can move with his nose or paw in order to find the hidden treats. The Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone will provide your dog with hours of mental stimulation. Another great toy is the Bob-a-Lot Dog Treat Puzzle, which is a large ball that can fit up to 3 cups of dog food. The ball wobbles around erratically with your dogs encouragement and slowly lets out the food. You can put your dog’s dinner in the Bob-a-Lot Dog Treat Puzzle, and provide him with exercise and mental stimulation while he eats!
(2) Play interactive games like fetch. Fetch provides great bonding time for your dog, as well as exercise. All of these aspects of fetch are great for mental stimulation. All you need is a dog frisbee or fetch toy and you are good to go!
(3) Practice obedience drills. Teach your dog commands like “sit,” “shake,” or “lay down,” and then practice them often! Use dog treats to reward your dog.