Activities for Senior Dogs

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Moemer
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Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby Moemer » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:12 pm

yo yo
I'm thinking of adding a class to my schedule specifically for senior dogs. It would be geared mainly towards mental stimulation, but I'd like to add in some physical exercises as long as I'm not over-stepping my bounds. (I'm actually going to a canine strengthening and conditioning workshop this weekend, so I might ask about simple exercises while I'm there)

This would be a short run class, maybe three sessions, may or may not include the mandatory orientation (possibly not since most of these exercises are more exploratory than they are formal training). I'm looking for things that are relatively simple and doesn't require physical exertion or flexibility - so okay for a dog with sore hips or something.

Here's what I've got so far:

Nina Ottosson toy – walk through it in class - Include Nina Ottosson toy in cost of class
Simple scent training - no indication (food in box, search only)
Trick (taking into account physical limitations) – hand target, play dead, weave through legs
"Three Card Monty" – plastic cups. Start with one until dog tips it easily. Hide a treat under one, release to find it. Move cups, no goal of getting the right one (maybe do this after the scent class?)
Rolled towel with treats in it – dog must unroll towel to get treats (nose target)
Proprioceptive activities – scrunchies on legs, TTouch, gentle push on hip + or trigger other reflex, Agility ladder, fitpaws pod (balance activity - might be too much for older dogs - not the egg kind, just a low blow up thingy like a squashed beach ball-flying saucer), mini-teeter totter (for smaller dogs only)

TIA!!
Emily
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby Moemer » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:16 pm

I also need to take into account the potential for deaf or blind dogs... not sure what the audience will look like.
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby emmas_mom » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:12 pm

These all sound like great ideas - I'll try to think of some others that my old dogs have enjoyed. One word of warning, from my recent experience with Eddie - take into consideration the type of floor on which the exercises will be performed. Our training was on a concrete floor which Eddie found quite difficult for doing sits (his weak hind leg would slide out from under him), or activities that required him to use any amount of leg strength such as getting standing up and lying down. If the floor is a hard floor, have the participants bring a 3x5 mat with a non-slip backing. They are available from places like Walmart for as little as $10. Also be sure to advise participants if your facility is not level-entry. Stairs can be a challenge for seniors, and some dogs are too heavy to safely carry up them.
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Moemer
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby Moemer » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:45 am

thanks for the thoughts! I have kids play matting over the whole floor, so it's soft and pretty grippy. If a dog had floofy bedroom slippers I think it could still be a problem, so I can put a note on the class description. Don't need any splayed seniors! One entrance has 2 steps, the other (which I don't use routinely but could easily open if necessary) has no steps. I love ground level!
I wonder what the market is for it? It would really be trying to sell something to someone who is not looking for me a product that they "didn't know they needed". It could be a tough sell, I wish vets were more interested in working with me!
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby SherriA » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:45 am

Are you gearing towards seniors with little/no training? Or ones that have been doing various dog activities but may now be too old to really participate in things like agility, flyball, etc?

If your audience has little/no training experience, I think it would be great to not just teach them a trick, but teach them how to think through teaching it so they can add other things on their own. So, maybe rather than teaching a specific trick, you teach the steps to go through to break it down, then offer a suggestion of a trick to learn but don't limit them to that one (in case it's something that might be hard for their dog). I saw a great video on youtube ages ago about how someone clicker trained her dog to close a drawer. It took about seven minutes, start to finish, iirc, but it really demonstrated how you change the criteria for the click as the dog starts to understand what you're looking for, starting with a general look/movement in the direction of the drawer then all the way up to touching the drawer with his nose and pushing it closed. It really helped me understand the process, which I could then apply to other things. That was more valuable to me than actually learning how to teach my dog to close a drawer, kwim?

I love the toy idea and the scent work idea. What about teaching them some really simple basic massage to help soothe their old dogs aches and pains?
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby RobinS » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:48 am

Box stuffed with crinkled up paper, treats and bits of high value stuff in it....Engages the dog to use it's brain and physically, the dog is moving to get the yummies out.

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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby Jen » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:23 am

If your audience has little/no training experience, I think it would be great to not just teach them a trick, but teach them how to think through teaching it so they can add other things on their own. So, maybe rather than teaching a specific trick, you teach the steps to go through to break it down, then offer a suggestion of a trick to learn but don't limit them to that one (in case it's something that might be hard for their dog).

That's what I was thinking.

Maybe also teach them how to do 101 Things to Do With a Box at home?

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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby SherriA » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:28 am

Yes, 101 things with a box is a wonderful thing to learn!
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Re: Activities for Senior Dogs

Postby Moemer » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:46 pm

I expect these will be average pet owners... so not particularly experienced dogs or people.
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