Tag: Senior dogs

The Role of Dog Fosters

Jess forwards another stirring account of a dog rescuer.

Jess Anderson sent me this video of a Labrador, age 19 no less, being rescued. That is one senior dog!

The video and the supporters who left comments all said how wonderful were their experiences of saving senior dogs.

The video came from the Dodo Foster Diaries and at the time of writing had had nearly 600 viewings.

There is a very good article on PetFinder about the first few days with a senior dog. Go and watch it!

Ageing gracefully applies to our dogs as well.

Another guest post from John Brooks.

This is an argument from John to consider dogs that are well past their prime.

It’s a good article. You will enjoy reading it and may learn something; I certainly did!


Here’s Why Senior Pets Have Lots To Offer

As you may or may not know, we’ve recently celebrated Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week. During this week, animal rescues around the globe join together to raise awareness about the benefits of adopting pets that society deems as ‘less adoptable’ – and sadly, senior pets make the list.

We think that senior pets are just as loving, sweet and great companions as their ‘adoptable’ counterparts. But despite the many benefits of owning a senior pet, most families choose younger pets when adopting. With that in mind, here’s why we believe seniors deserve a second look and a fur-ever home.

Why you should consider a senior pet
Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of families adopting and fostering pets since the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions has risen dramatically across the globe. Near the commencement of stay at home orders, RSPCA received 1,600 adoption applications in a single week of April—a 45% increase in dog adoptions and a 20% increase in cat adoptions compared to 2019.

Senior pets (and other less-adoptable animals) typically spend four times as long in a shelter as a healthy, younger pet. In the U.S. alone, about 400,000 senior pets die in a shelter. Though most people do seek a puppy or kitten when adopting, families would benefit in many ways from choosing an older pet. Here’s why.

Better manners
Older pets are well past the playful, chew-everything, get-into-anything stage. Older dogs and cats sleep for 20 hours a day or more, rousing just long enough for a conversation, to greet visitors, or have a meal. They are also probably house-trained, dog-door trained, and have formal or informal obedience training.

They are much more likely to come when called, which means they are at less risk of danger younger pets encounter when escaping their yard and wandering the streets.

Easier to train
For the older dog with less than perfect manners, training is typically more straightforward. They are more focused and eager to please than puppies with short attention spans. Senior animals are smarter and more experienced, and this can mean they acclimate more quickly to the house and how the household operates.

Done growing
One of the best parts about adopting a senior is they have finished growing, and the new family knows exactly how large the pet is. When adopting a puppy, owners are often surprised at how large the dog becomes or how little it grows. With an older dog, there will be no surprises.

Seniors make better companions for seniors
Senior pets usually move at a slower pace, which makes them a better choice for older people, especially those with limited mobility or disabilities. The new owner is less likely to be toppled by a dog jumping up. It’s also safer for those that allow their pets to sleep with them. An older dog is less likely to be rambunctious and cause injury to a sleeping adult.

Laid-back company
Senior pets are content to stay close to home or in the house for the majority of the day. They are more likely to be found soaking up a sunbeam on a cosy patch of carpet than barking wildly at everything and everyone crossing past the front window.

Senior dogs are also far less distracted when out for a walk. Though they may perk up at the sight of another dog, they are less likely to drag the owner down the sidewalk in pursuit. They also walk slower, and at a pace their owner matches.

Gratitude and devotion
Senior dogs spend up to four times as long in a shelter, so when they finally find a furever home, their gratitude runs deep, and it shows. They give unconditional love and devotion and look after their families. Often they will attach to a family member and stay close at all times, moving with them from room to room. They take full responsibility for their welfare and provide comfort with a warm, wet kiss.

Years of happiness
At seven years old, most dogs and cats are considered senior. Cats often live to be 15 or even 20 years so that the owner can expect a long life with their new friend. Depending on the breed and size, dogs too can live 15 or more years. So while adopting a senior dog will mean you may spend slightly less birthdays together, you’ll still be blessed with some wonderful years and memories.

Despite the many benefits of owning a senior pet, families also worry about the costs associated with maintaining their pet’s health. Dental cleanings, blood work, and annual shots can quickly add up, but younger animals have just as many health risks and are more likely to be involved in accidents.

Final thoughts
Fostering helps many people feel fulfilled because they are making a significant contribution to a pet’s life. For them, seeing their foster move on to their forever family is reward enough. Don’t be surprised though if fostering leads to adoption. That’s always a great outcome for all involved.


In the U.S. alone, about 400,000 senior pets die in a shelter.

Among the many interesting aspects of this post, for me the statement above that I have put into italics jumped off the page at me. What an appalling waste!

But coming back to the complete article it offers many aspects of something that I had hitherto not thought about. I suspect that I am not the only one!

We, too, have a senior foster dog. She is Sheena and is 12 years of age. We love her and there is no question of Sheena going back to the kennels.

Once again, let me offer a bit of background on John.

John Brooks is the Professional Content Marketer. He writes a lot of articles on his carrier. Last one year he is working with Orbeen.com as a digital marketing expert. The company provides various types of Digital Marketing services i.e, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Optimization (SMO), Web design & development, Link Building, Content Marketing & blogger outreach.



Embracing those senior years.

And I’m speaking of our dogs as well as me!

Whether we like it or not, time flows in one direction.

I find it almost as difficult to know that I shall be 72 years old in November as I know that dear Pharaoh will be 13 on June 3rd., a little over three weeks from today. Both of us most firmly now in our senior years.

This introspection was generated by something that was read recently over on the Care2 site: 7 Steps to Help Your Senior Dog Be Happy and Fulfilled

Knowing that dozens of you dear readers will have dogs that are also in their senior years was the motivation for me republishing the article; as follows:


7 Steps to Help Your Senior Dog Be Happy and Fulfilled

1381516.largeBy: Lisa Spector May 8, 2016

About Lisa Follow Lisa at @throughadogsear

I can hardly believe that my yellow Labrador, Sanchez, is turning 13 next week. I count my blessings that he is in good health and still enjoys our twice daily walks. But, I’m also aware that he can’t keep up to his activity level from even a year ago, let alone in his prime. I’m always looking for ways to provide mental stimulation to his environment without physically taxing his body.

1. Alone Time Together Daily
It’s not always easy having a multi-dog household. But, it’s important to make a priority of having time alone with your pets daily. Since Sanchez was an only dog for the first seven years of his life, he particularly appreciates this. It means walks take longer (walking Gina separately), but it’s well worth the time when I see Sanchez’s smile of contentment.

2. Keep Training
Dogs love to learn, no matter their age. I still spend time training every night with Sanchez. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for his training time with me. The bonding time is precious and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his yummy rewards either.

3. Give Him Attention in Creative Ways
Gina is a high-drive dog. We spend a lot of time retrieving and tugging. While it helps alleviate her pent up energy, Sanchez used to look neglected when she was getting the extra attention. So, I started sneaking him small treats while tugging with her. At night time, I often play ball with her inside, having her run down and up the stairs, chasing and retrieving the ball. I include Sanchez in the game by discreetly tossing him small treats while she’s running back up to me to deliver the ball. It not only makes him feel included, but it also engages his senses as his nose has to search for the tossed treat.

4. Reward. Reward. Reward.
In the video above, I am training both of my dogs together. Even though Gina is doing all of the physical activity, Sanchez is getting equally paid for staying calm and still while she jumps over and goes under him. Good Boy, Sanchez!

5. Pay Attention to New Behaviors
It’s not unusual for senior dogs to develop anxiety issues later in life that seemingly come out of nowhere. They can include sound phobias, separation anxiety or resource guarding. There are some that I just accept, such as tearing tissue out of the bathroom waste basket. I call it his puppy behavior returned. I just make sure that I don’t put anything in the trash that could be harmful when chewed. Other behaviors will only get worse if ignored, such as separation anxiety or food resource guarding. Tips for Separation Anxiety are here. For all anxiety issues, consult with your veterinarian and/or a positive reinforcement dog trainer. Ignored, they will only escalate.

6. Keep The Safe Physical Activity
Sanchez and I used to enjoy musical freestyle classes. He would weave between my legs, spin and jump on my arm on cue. While that would be too taxing on his body now, we have kept in what is safe for him. He still loves to “go back,” lift his left and right paw on cue, and show off his “downward dog.”  Of course, he is well paid for his behavior.

7. Engage The Senses
National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™) is the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work. It is a growing popular sport, and it’s great for dogs of all ages. K9 Nose Work is built on scent work where dogs use their nose to search for their prize. Sanchez loved his K9 Nose Work class. Now, at home, I put pieces of liver into a mixed variety of cardboard boxes. He is told to “find” the liver. Boy, does his tail ever wag when he is searching!

Dog training should always be fun for both 4- and 2-leggeds. Get creative with your senior pup. Because you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Mark Holtuhusen


This strikes me as very sound advice.

I will close today’s post with a photograph of dear Pharoah and me, both well into our senior years, taken just a few weeks ago demonstrating that both of us are old dogs learning new tricks!

TIMOTHY BULLARD/Daily CourierPaul Handover with Pharaoh, a 12year-old German Shepard that he uses on the cover of his new book about man's best friend.
TIMOTHY BULLARD/Daily CourierPaul Handover with Pharaoh, a 12year-old German Shepard that he uses on the cover of his new book about man’s best friend.

On second thoughts there’s a much better way to close this post that reflects on those precious years before the end of our days. That is by offering you the poem by John Oldham,  A Quiet Soul.

A Quiet Soul

Thy soul within such silent pomp did keep,

As if humanity were lull’d asleep;
So gentle was thy pilgrimage beneath,
Time’s unheard feet scarce make less noise,
Or the soft journey which a planet goes:
Life seem’d all calm as its last breath.
A still tranquillity so hush’d thy breast,
As if some Halcyon were its guest,
And there had built her nest;
It hardly now enjoys a greater rest.

John Oldham

And more tricks for senior dogs.

The concluding part to yesterday’s post.


Open a door

Your dog can cue to you open the door by ringing a bell, but how about taking it to the next level and teaching your dog to open the door by himself? In fact, there’s a handy trick built into this that we will introduce later on! This video walks you through all the steps to opening doors and drawers:

Hold an object

If your dog likes to play fetch or tug, it may be a great idea to teach him how to hold and carry an object. It’s a new way for a dog to think about holding a toy, since once the dog has a grip on it, he needs to wait for you to give the cue to release it. This trick is also included in a more complicated trick, which is next on our list. But first, here’s a video that shows you how to master this trick:

Fetch something from the fridge or cupboard

When you have the training down for touch, opening the door, knowing the names of objects, and holding an object, it’s just a matter of putting the steps together to teach your dog to fetch an item from somewhere in the house. A popular version of this trick is of course to fetch a beer from the fridge! But maybe start out with a less fizzy drink option, just in case.

Back up

An interesting trick to teach your senior dog is how to walk backwards. It’s a great one to help with getting him to think about using his body a little differently. Most dogs aren’t really aware of where their hind end is — it’s just the part that follows their front end. By teaching your dog to walk backward, you’re teaching him to be aware of where his back legs are going. It’s great for both mental and physical agility.

Find it

Keep life interesting for your dog by creating a game around using his nose to find a reward. This is a great trick especially for dogs whose hearing or sight has diminished with age. The trick teaches them to use their noses even more purposefully, using scent work to find the hidden treat or toy. Once you teach your dog how to find it, you can have the “it” be something different every time you play to keep your dog at the top of his game. This video shows an older Labrador learning the steps to the “find it” game and having fun playing:

Tuck himself in bed

It’s surprising how much fun you can have with a trick that only requires your dog to grab a blanket and roll over. This adorable trick is great for dogs of any age, and is an easy (and cozy) trick for your senior dog to learn. You simply teach your dog to lie down on a blanket, grab and hold the corner of it, and roll over so he tucks himself into bed. For senior dogs who like to snooze in extra warm blankets, this is a dream trick. Here’s how it works:


So there you are. Plenty to keep you and your senior dogs engaged for a long time. Once again, if you missed part one then that was published yesterday.

Tricks for us seniors

Eleven tricks you can teach a senior dog.

The household here in Oregon has a number of seniors, both dogs and humans. And while I’m pretty sure that this senior human is practically past the point of learning new tricks, apparently it doesn’t apply to our old dogs.

So enjoy this recent article that appeared on Mother Nature News.


Teaching an old dog new tricks is not only possible, but a lot of fun!

By: Jaymi Heimbuch, November 30, 2015

Old dogs can learn new tricks with ease! (Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)
Old dogs can learn new tricks with ease! (Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock)

The old saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we know a lot of old sayings are wrong — this one included. Of course we can teach old dogs new tricks! In fact, it’s a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and having fun throughout his life.

One important thing to keep in mind about teaching senior dogs new tricks and behaviors is the dog’s level of physical ability. Many senior dogs are perfectly able, but if your dog is getting achy in the joints or has other limitations that come with age, keep these in mind. Older dogs may have joint pain or arthritis and have a harder time jumping or even sitting for long periods. They may also have dental issues which may limit the tricks they can do using their mouths. And they may also have hearing or vision problems which alter not only what kinds of tricks you want to teach them but also the way in which you teach them. So it’s important to know what your dog’s physical limitations are when you’re thinking up new tricks, and not push him to the point of possible injury.

While your dog may be past the days of learning to jump through hoops or leap over walls, there is a huge range of tricks that keep mobility issues in mind, and which senior dogs will have a lot of fun learning. Some of the tricks listed here build on each other and gain complexity, so you can keep things interesting for your dog for weeks at a time while training.


This is such a great trick to use as a foundation for other tricks, from flipping light switches on or off to coming back to your side. And it’s incredibly easy for your dog to learn and do. This is great for older dogs because you can make it really simple at first and build complexity into it after your dog has it down. To start out, you train your dog to do hand targeting. Here’s a video that shows not only how to train your dog to touch your hand, but many of the uses of the behavior:



Teaching your dog to yawn is all about “capturing behavior” with clicker training. It’s much like training your dog “touch” but this time, you have to wait for your dog to offer the behavior and capture it when it happens. Click — or say a key word like “Yes” — whenever you catch your dog yawning, and then reward him with treats or a game with a toy. After awhile, your dog begins to associate the yawn as being a trick that earns a reward. Here’s a video that demonstrates capturing different behaviors that you can turn into cute tricks, including yawning on command:


Put toys away

Even when you’re a grown-up, you have to pick up your toys when you’re done playing. Teaching your dog this tidy behavior will keep him or her a little more active in a low-key way, and thus help loosen up those stiff joints and muscles without putting a strain on their body. Plus, it’s a fun game that you can play over and over, not just on clean-up duty.


Names of objects

Stretch your dog’s mental abilities by teaching him the name of different objects or toys. This is a great way to teach your dog to fetch certain items from the toy box or even various objects from around house. You can start off with a few items from the toy box or simply get rolling with items you may want him to fetch for you, including hats, keys, shoes, blankets and so on.

Though it may take a while for your dog to truly grasp the name for each item at first, soon he will catch on to what the name game is all about and will likely grasp names faster when introduced to new objects.

Here’s a video that shows how to begin teaching a dog the name of an item, and how to add more items into the mix:


Ring a bell to go out

Your senior dog may be house-trained, but is he also trained to tell you precisely when he wants or needs to go out? You can give your older dog a great tool to tell you what he needs by teaching him to ring a bell as a cue to go outside. This video shows the progression of teaching a dog to touch the bell, and then eventually transition to learning that ringing the bell means their human opens the door for them.



The balance of this fascinating article comes out tomorrow.