Pet ownership is so rewarding, but can be challenging as we age. Pet ownership has so many benefits:
Studies have shown that in the case of senior citizens, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke.”
Animals make wonderful companions— unconditional love and non-judgment.
Pets help encourage us to get up and out and have a healthier daily routine.
Security and Safety
Houses with a dog are less likely to be robbed.
Pets help keep us involved in public life and connected to the community.
Although there are many wonderful aspects of pet ownership, training a dog during our senior years can pose specific challenges. Some of those challenges include:
Seniors don’t often have the strength they had when they were younger.
Seniors may also have lost some motor skills and dexterity which can affect timing, treat delivery, and putting on collars, leashes or harnesses.
Choosing the right dog can alleviate many of these challenges. Often a small dog can be easier to manage or handle. And senior dogs often already come potty trained and have some basic training knowledge and skill.
Creative Training Tips for Seniors
Training the Basics
If you have a small dog, it may be easier to train some of the basic behaviors like SIT or DOWN on a small table. Place a bath mat (or other soft mat with a nonslip backing) on the table for safety and stability of the pet.
If you have a medium to large dog, consider teaching him/her some of the basic behaviors like SIT or DOWN on a raised platform or station. This makes it easier for the dog to focus and for the handler to deliver treats.
Keep training sessions short and end on a good note. You may do several short training sessions in a day.
Consider preparing your treats before you train. Use a small Ziploc bag, and put your pre-made bite-sized treats inside. You can put the Ziploc bag in the fridge or freezer, depending on the type of training treats you use. That way, you can just grab a small bag when you are ready to train.
Find collars and leashes with fabric or texture that is comfortable in your hand. Also make sure that the hardware is large enough that you can easily attach the leash to the collar or harness.
It’s important to set up both you and your dog for success! Teach good habits right from the start. Implementing a good management plan is always helpful. Decide where the dog will eat, sleep, play, rest. Valuable management tools include crates, baby gates and playpen-type areas.
There are joys and responsibilities of pet ownership. We cherish the amazing memories and adorable moments with our pets. There can be challenges that accompany training a pet as we age into our senior years. However, with a little planning and helpful training tips, we can continue to successfully train our four-legged friends into our golden years.
Dream Dogs is dedicated to assisting all pet owners, at all stages of life, to train their pets positively. Dream Dogs new facility is located in Bermuda Dunes. For more information or to schedule a tour of the new facility, contact Dream Dogs at (760) 899-7272.