Commands for the Older Dog
When your dog reaches its senior years and has been an ideal companion, faithful in every way, show it some extra consideration.
Like older humans your dog is apt to have good days and bad days. Some days your dog will be ready to romp. You might even see glimpses of its former puppyhood. On other days your dog will struggle just to get up and go for a walk. Stairs will become barriers. It’s time to lighten up on the commands.
If you have developed good lines of communication with your dog, you need to pay close attention. If you notice a reluctance to comply with a well understood command, your dog is asking you for some accommodation. It is not defiance. Show your dog appreciation for the hundreds of times that the command was eagerly followed. Give your old dog affection instead of insistence. Your dog will reciprocate with the usual love and displays of happiness that you are accustom to. This simple gesture on your part will only strengthen the connections you have already built to your dog’s heart.
Look Out is a good example of a command you should use with discretion. If your dog is peacefully resting on the floor it might be wise to tip-toe and step over your dog rather than telling it to move.
The Hop Up command will probably be more difficult for your dog. Putting all its weight on the joints in its hind legs could be painful. It is probably better for you to join your dog on the floor instead.
Why would you ever ask an elderly dog to Roll Over?
On the other hand Sit and Lie Down will be welcomed. Regular vocabulary reviews help keep the channels open and your dog’s mind sharp. Just remember to pick the commands that are physically easy for your dog to execute.
Don’t use this as an excuse to eliminate exercise from your dog’s routine. Your dog may not run so fast anymore, but chasing a ball will always be pure enjoyment for most breeds. Your dog needs to remain active throughout its life even if it becomes limited to long walks. A sedentary life is bad for dogs of any age. For seniors it can contribute to the development of chronic conditions like arthritis and heart disease.
The strong lines of communication you have developed using the techniques described in “The Heart of Your Dog” really pay off at this time in your dog’s life. You should always be responsive. Especially now your dog will be counting on you more and more for assistance and understanding.