Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mix it up with toys: keeping your dog mentally engaged

You've brought your senior dog home, he or she is well adjusted, and without warning they start to act out.

Maybe it's some additional barking or getting anxious. The first thing I think of is: What has changed?

Dogs are sensitive creatures, so quite often some change will trigger the change, but sometimes the cause is more subtle than that. Sometimes its the things that you aren't doing that are affecting your dog.

Consider that each day the dog lives its life according to your rules. When you are available to walk them. What kind of food they eat. How their environment is set up.

Dogs, like people learn through repetition and reinforcement, however they also can get bored, and when they're bored, like us, they're looking to fill their time with more exciting activities, including things like barking or chewing up a book or pair of shoes that get our attention and get us, as members of their pack, re-engaged with them.

So as to not make changes always about what new type of treat you can give them, it's good to change up their toys from time to time. Take toys out of rotation for a few months and take the time to show them how much fun it is to play with new toys.

There is an upcoming post with trainer, Eugenia Vogel, that reinforces some of these ideas to help you understand how to live with a happy senior dog.