Getting older… and getting a dog, too?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

As we get older, we find ourselves “downsizing” in many different ways, one of which might be getting a smaller dog for our smaller living quarters. In fact, here in Loganland, our next dog will most likely be smaller than our 60# Standard Poodles.

“A small dog is great if you can stand on your head,” a client recently commented. “Polly” had labs in the past but now retired, she is the new owner of a miniature labradoodle puppy. She did her homework, chose a reputable breeder (not a pet store puppymill puppy!), was a diligent student in puppy class, socialized her puppy, embraced modern, positive-reinforcement training methods (“the difference in training methods is astounding!”) and that cute little fluffball has found a good fit in her new home. Even so, having had 3 joint replacements makes Polly very wary of falling. Her pup can skit about quickly and quietly. Tripping is a big risk… for both of them! If “Frisky” were a larger dog, it would be much easier to keep tabs on her. When I suggested she try to get down to Frisky’s level to get an idea of what the world looks like from her perspective – not an easy feat - she said, “wow, poor Frisky has to crane her neck up to see what must look like the Statue of Liberty to her!”

Some of the biggest challenges in dog ownership for older folks is:

  1. Ensuring the dog gets sufficient aerobic exercise and

  2. Finding appropriate ways to manage the dog in the house so no bad or dangerous habits start to form.

Those two things combined are crucial to a peaceful life together!

Special Skills

Learning special skills can improve relations and make things so much easier for both parties. Frisky has started to learn to retrieve a toy to a basket so my client doesn’t have to reach all the way to the floor to get the toy back. I have suggested that we also teach her to jump into the basket so she can be picked up easier. Frisky is learning to hop onto a stool so Polly can more easily put her collar and leash on (the stool helps to keep Frisky still). Polly has learned a lot about dog body language and was surprised to discover that Frisky found her approach (looming over and reaching towards her head) to be rather scary. This was why she would start to avoid Polly. Polly learned strategies that work better.

Training can make a world of difference in helping people and dogs live happily together.

Here are a few interesting links:

Happy training!