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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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