Thursday, January 21, 2016

Putting Pep in Your Senior Dog's Step

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Finding Your Senior's Inner Puppy
If you're familiar with horses, you may know that your ride is likely to be more energetic on the way back to the barn than it was as you left the barn. Unlike dogs, horses enjoy the thrill of knowing the end of the walk or ride is near. Horses love the barn for friends, food, family, and familiarity.

Our dogs are quite the opposite. They need--actually thrive on--excitement, new and different experiences, and problems to solve. Unlike horses, they are rarely fearful of the noises or flickering sunlight on the leaves; dogs love these things and enjoy figuring out where they come from and what they can do with them to make the day even more exciting.

As a result, our dogs tend to have stored up energy at the beginning of the walk that means you may need to step up your pace to keep up with Fido for quite a ways. Take Tanner, for example. He's just now beginning to show signs of slowing down, but only on the return trip. As we leave the house my arm needs to be solidly in its socket and I must always remember to ask Tanner to sit as we exit the house, allowing me to lock up and store my supplies before we take off. That departure is sometimes much like a jet.

Fast forward to the point at which we turn back toward the house and everything changes. While Tanner's pace used to remain the same and required multiple walks, bike rides and swims each day, he now is beginning to show his age and will pace himself on the return trip. Some days I think this is simply his way of telling me he wishes we would continue the exploration, while other days it is very clear that he is just plain tired. We had one of those today and I was ready.

We walked during the mid-afternoon when the sun was bright and there was a beautiful, cool breeze. No complaints about being overly hot or freezing cold. As Tanner began to lag behind, I slowed down to mimic his baby steps. This confused the tar out of him and at one point he stopped and looked up at me as if to say, "Where's the pep in your step?" I ignored him and slowed down a tweak more. 

As Tanner became more confused his problem-solving skills went to work. I guess he decided he needed to take the lead in order to speed up the process of getting home to his post-walk treat and a fresh bowl of water. That's what I was waiting for--him to step up and show me what he could do. Yay Tanner!

And there's more. Just before we turned the corner to re-enter our neighborhood, some flickery sunshine under a group of large shade trees caught Tanner's eye. He was curious, yet knew that home was not far. He seemed ready to let this one go and continue on. I held back and asked him to investigate. I wanted him to be reminded of what his curiosity brings him--joy, fun, excitement, and playfulness.

Tanner lost himself in chasing the lights as they flickered through the leaves, filtering and moving without warning. He danced, pounced, and bobbed around the area, totally enjoying this experience with complete abandon. Suddenly he appeared to be a puppy again. 

After he exhausted himself in play, we headed home, eager to see Oliver who was napping off a day of doctor's appointments and shopping with Grandma. At the door, I squatted and took Tanner's face in my hands. I looked him in the eyes and told him he would always be my puppy. I took a vow to myself to find new and different ways to help him find his energy when it is lost after a long walk. And yes, I have more #SilverSlippers ideas that will be coming soon to the #WeeklyWag. Please share yours below....

Grab your #SilverSlippers and let's get walking,

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Introducing the Best of All Things Dog Blog:

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(c) photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Tanner Invites You to Read On...
Scrolling through my archives the other day found me wondering how any new visitor to the blog would ever find my best posts. Tanner and I put on our thinking caps and came up with a brilliant idea:

This link will take you to a list of YOUR favorite posts. No, I'm not bluffing. My really geekie analytics program tells me which posts and what topics are most popular with my readers. If you'd like to explore some of our more oft-read articles, you need only click on the sub-heading just above this paragraph to find a list of these posts. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Inspire Your Dog's Instincts for Brain Work

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Add Yourself or a Toy for Swimming "Work"
Just like my dogs, each of yours come from a rich history of jobs that they were once trained for and worked at daily. Even if your pup is a Heinz 57 mix, he has likely got a strong suit of instincts that can help you guide him through activities that will work his brain, helping to keep him young. Finding these interests will be key to working your senior dog as he ages and is less able to handle extensive, physical activity.

Not sure what your dog's instincts are? You may want to pick up a DNA test kit to see what your particular Fido's primary breed profile looks like. This should aid immensely in finding out what you can do to find Bowser's favorite activity.

Some of you may think your dog is not much more than a lap warmer. Dogs like Oliver, for
Dogs With Jobs Live Longer,
Happier Lives
example, started their breed development as attendants to queens, acting as daily companions. Oliver's breed history as a companion dog--despite his puppy mill breeding--has bode well in his new job as a Medical Alert service dog. He keeps tabs on me quite attentively, rarely losing focus except for the occasional social opportunity. I can't complain about that; a social life is healthy for us all.

Tanner, on the other hand, has a strong Retriever DNA thread. His instict for retrieving is so strong, in fact, that I have witnessed several episodes in which he cornered a live critter, only to sit and await my arrival and instructions. There's no killing instinct in him, which I am told is true to a pure Golden--the need to return the downed animal to his handler without damaging it. Who knew?!!! 

Retrieving is an activity that involves both mind and body, a good combination to keep your pup young and alert. Using his brain to solve problems and follow through on a job helps to keep him young.

All that said, I've been able to put my boys to work in ways that best suit them. To maintain the health of Tanner's hips, he is now spending a greater share of his exercise time swimming and fetching in water. These activities put little weight on his joints, while helping maintain the strength in his muscles. 
A photo posted by Carrie Boyko (@allthingsdogblog) on

Today's exercise involved retrieving 7 toys from the pool and returning them to a pile. This is an activity we have developed since he mastered the toss and return game at a young age. I wanted to keep him learning. 

Oliver's job requires his keen observation skills and attention to my scent. If there's a shift in this, he's up and in my face, letting me know it's time to take action. All seems to be well in his world as long as he is able to be near me. What's not to like about that?!!!

We hope you have enjoyed some of our other #SilverSlippers tips for enhancing the benefits of your senior's walks. These techniques can be used with any and all dogs, but are designed specifically to give your seniors some extra challenge, rather than extra physical work. 

Theming a Dog Walk
Putting Pet in Your Senior Dog's Step
Inspire Your Dog Walks

Happy tails,

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