Whoever said that old dogs don’t know how to have fun was badly mistaken. Just because your old buddy isn’t as fast, as excitable, and as wide-eyed as before doesn’t mean your loving canine isn’t up for a round or two of games. There are many ways for you to have fun playing with a senior dog, and here are a few ideas to get you started!
1. Find it Game
You and your dog know this game all too well. Essentially, it involves your dog looking for a piece of treat that you tossed to the ground. For starters, have your dog sniff on the treat, then drop it in front of them. Continue the entire process, except that for every succeeding turn, you should throw the treat farther and farther. Dogs never—I repeat, never—seem to tire of these hunting games and you can even feed them entire meals just by playing this game!
2. Hide and Seek
This is a cop-out of the Find It game, except that your dog will look for an entire person. Once they find the person, they’ll get a huge treat. Now, what old dog would bark ‘no’ to that?
3. The Muffin Tin Game
Quite a unique game specially made for older dogs, the Muffin Tin game will require a 6- or 12-muffin tin. Place a treat on each tin, then put a tennis ball over half of them. Your dog will then get familiarized to the scent and figure out that underneath the tennis balls are exciting treats awaiting them.
4. Go Wild And Freezy
Feeling a little hippie and dance-y? You might be surprised that old dogs still have the groove in them, if you play this game with them.
A famous game is “Go Wild and Freeze,” first developed by the trainer September Morn. You can find September’s e-mail address at the bottom of this page. There are many ways to play “Go Wild and Freeze” – here’s one. Start by dancing around and acting excited till your dog gets going, too. After a minute or so, you all of a sudden stop moving. Ask your dog to sit, or down, or do another behavior she knows well. The moment she does it, start dancing around again; when your dog joins in, stop, ask for that sit or down again, and reward her by re-starting the party.
Mix things up by varying what behaviors you ask for and how long you wait before re-starting the game. If your dog is super-excitable and likely to mouth you or ricochet off you, start with a pale-vanilla version of “going wild” — your dog’s introduction to this game can be “Take a Single Step and Freeze.” You can also retreat behind a baby gate if need be.
“Go Wild and Freeze” is not only fun, it helps teach your dog self-control as she learns to respond to your cues even when excited. End the game clearly, for example by saying “All done!” and sitting down with a book. If you say the same phrase every time, your dog will learn that it signifies the end of play for now. Ignore any attempts to reel you back in — otherwise, she’ll learn that pestering works. (Read More Here)
The best part about these fun games is that they also train your senior dogs in the long run. This should dispel any notion that training dogs require force and heavy hands. You can teach your dog to sit and run, to spin on cue, and close the door among several simple commands—all while you and your buddy spend time together!