Senior Pet Month - Prep
Adopting a Senior Dog
So you’ve decided that a senior or geriatric dog adoption is your next best step. Congratulations! That wasn’t so scary, now was it? Adopting an older dog brings a different set of responsibilities and preparation, so let’s get to it!
Preparing your home and wallet for a senior dog
- Keep floors free of debris or anything that might trip up a vision-impaired pet and keep open access to food and water dishes.
- New, upgraded bedding will help ease achy, tired joints. Who doesn’t love a comfy bed? An orthopedic bed can help relieve joint pain. We have a few available at Off Leash Dog Boutique. You can follow this link or head to the search bar and type in “orthopedic.”
- We all love hardwood floors and those new awesome tiles; but carpet or non-slip rugs are best for your aging dog. Less slipping = less injury.
- Keep the body healthy with their daily walks and stimulate their minds with some puzzle treat toys. The Toppl and the Qwizl should keep them guessing as they figure out how to get to the tasty treat you place inside.
- Invest in a ramp or stairs to help your senior dog get into and out of cars and beds. It will also help reduce injury from jumping or falling.
- Consider blocking off danger zones such as pools or stairs.
- Pet health insurance is probably a good spend. Vet bills aren’t any laughing matter and you want to ensure your pet has the treatment he or she needs when the time comes. If you prefer, you may want to start a savings account just for veterinary expenses.
- Get some advice from your veterinarian. They will know the breed, potential health risks, proper nutrition and exercise for your new pet and give you some guidelines on any behavioral issues you may encounter.
Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
Preparing your family
You may experience some behaviors that are not acceptable in your home; but don’t let that dissuade you from adopting that otherwise perfect for you dog. It’s likely that you will have a period of training in how to function in your family with any dog you adopt. Be patient and consistent in your training. The good news is senior dogs usually catch on pretty well. Some of the behaviors which are commonly seen in rescues are:
- Potty in the house
- This can be simply not being house trained or possibly a marking behavior. It is suggested to assume your new friend is not house trained and begin them on a schedule of hourly potty visits outside and close supervision until you know where they are on this issue.
- Separation anxiety
- Caused by separation from the person with whom they have bonded or by isolation itself, the range of behaviors is large and varied. It can be anywhere from crying then calming to non-stop barking to tearing the house apart or even injuring themselves. Check with your veterinarian for advice on your situation.
- Being vocal
- Barking, whining, howling and growling may not all be bad. It’s your job to figure out what’s causing each form of communication and decide whether to attempt to put a stop to it.
- Dogs chew throughout their lives. Supervision on your part will tell you in a hurry whether you have a dog that chews appropriate items or has been allowed to destroy everything in their path their entire life thus far.
- Jumping up
- Many times this is a greeting or attention-getting behavior. A little training on appropriate greeting behavior should take care of this.
- Pulling on the leash
- This is a tough one for many dogs as their excitement to be out and about just takes over. Invest some time and patience teaching her loose leash walking and your dog should pick up on this in short order. We do have some fun harnesses and martingale collars to cut down on the pulling at the neck while your dog is learning how to do this. On a personal note, we have one that just simply can’t put this skill together so we just go with it because we love him so very much and nobody's perfect.
Your new senior dog friend may not be successful in mastering all these issues either. Just be sure you and your family are committed to the process, are loving, patient and positive throughout the training and it will all work out. The Whole Dog Journal has a great article on these behaviors and ways to train your dog to conform to your behavioral expectations. For more, talk to your veterinarian and, seriously, have conversations with the shelter or rescue personnel who have been hanging out with the dogs and know them best. We want to see pictures of your senior pets, recent adoptions and hear about any senior pet adoptions!