Monday, 21 January 2019 10:48

Dog Social Need Series: Aging Stage

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Dog Social Need Series Aging Stage Dog Social Need Series Aging Stage Dog Social Need Series Aging Stage

Old Dog (7-8 Years and Beyond)

This stage often referred as “Geriatric Stage” some call it as “Old Dog” this will like the 50+ if your dog were human. The life getting faster for her while she gets slower overtime. The one who usually so agile and strong now getting bit “rusty” in their skill. Their fascinating sense of smell getting bit “covered” with something they don’t know.

The eye that usually can see where the Frisbee is going on, now getting bit blurred and she can’t watch anything like the way she used to be. The ear who usually tell her when someone is sneaking around your house, now hear almost nothing.

This is the stage where your dog’s getting scared of anything. She feels something is wrong, but she didn’t know what’s going on. She starts to make few mistakes like growling at you just because she gets surprised someone is touching her.

Control over her bladder muscle also getting weaker. She may urinate without knowing and since she already trained for years about where to eliminates, she’ll feel so much guilty about what she did. This can cause stress, and unaware owner may do something bad like punish her for eliminating in the wrong place.

The Goal of Old Dog Socialization

Since she knows everything and the learning capability already closed at this stage, you hardly teach her new things.
The activity she used to love now getting too tiresome, she will need less paced way to join the social activity. So do it slower.
At this stage she will lose her sensitive sense that she had before. She’s afraid of many things, so you need to calm her, now it’s not the time to teach your dog to learn something, but teach yourself to learn toward elder dog, so the “how to” part will be somewhat different than the previous series. It’s adjusting you with the dog, no longer teaches the dog.

How to Socialize Your Old Dog
Slow but sure, if the owner didn’t aware about what the old dog’s needs, the dog will lose her confident overtime. Stress, fear, and guilty is the trio who makes your dog act strangely. They need more and more confident building and need extra slow paced activity.

She still needs socialization at this stage, but in different way. They will need socialization done in less exhausting method. Going to the beach (that allow dog) and just sit and watch people will be one of her favorite activity now. If you can’t go to the beach, you go to the park, sit and watch people, while enjoys the warm weather.

Yard activity that usually involve in lots of movement and fast paced game like kong retrieval, now will be less active. She will love just to have you by her side while you read the newspaper in the yard or watch the TV together in the living room.

How to approach an old dog also different, your dog will easily surprised with sudden touch because she can’t hear you walk the room. So make sure you make some noise to “signal” your presence but not too much to surprise her. Approaching your dog from front or side is recommended to avoid extra surprise, but do it slowly since sudden move and blurred vision can make your dog thinks you are someone else. And teach the kids to do the same.

At this time she will need more of your time, because she is scared and your presence brings safety feeling. If you need to do something, it’ll be so hard for your dog to be alone, so try to take her with you. If the place doesn’t permit to bring her along, then leave one of your clothes or stuffed doll to “accompany” her. Your scent from the clothes is so calming since it’ll make her feels close to you, and the stuffed animal just like un-animated friend who watch and accompany her life.

The Pitfall
Most people who own an old dog and enjoy the companion probably start to think adopting a new puppy at this stage. It can be two-edged-sword; yes it can prevent you from feeling bore, hinder your fear of separation anxiety with your dog and other fear. But remember, a puppy will demand lots of your attention, a puppy also an active creature, a puppy is full of curiosity. These will draw most of your attention from your old dog. So make sure you can balance it before you decide to adopt a new pup while still having older one.

Some other think probably the old dog can teaches something to the pup and make the whole training process easier. While it can be true, I can’t allow such training. The problem is the differences in activity level, patience, and knowledge. Your puppy may “push” your old dog to the limit. She may loose patience, and a bad thing happens. Beside, you never teach your old dog how to teach the younger one. So, how can you expect your old dog will be a great teacher?

The second antipathy is you want your dog to obey your command (human command), not other dog. By letting your older dog teaching the younger one, will implant the process of following other dog’s command. This will make the dog respect you less.

Some Extra Tips
The biological clock may change at this stage. Your old dog who usually have 5 hours active followed by 5 hours sleeping may sift into 6 hours of sleeping followed by 4 hours of active time. You are the one who should adjust the daily routine so it’ll match with your dog’s active time. Don’t force her to be more active, it’ll be the same as asking an old people to hike the mountain while he barely climbs the stairs.

Your dog wants to have less activity, but you should maintain some activity at certain level to keep her healthy. Chewing toy like ball may became less interesting at this age, but a squeaky rubber duck with dazzling color can invite the curiosity to bite in.

If back in adolescent and adulthood you’ve trained your dog to understand both hand (visual) command and sound (audio) command, then you’ll need the visual command like hand signal more often this stage, since a dog usually lose the hearing first followed by the sight.

This article is the 3rd part of ongoing series of dog socialization. For previous series you can click here for puppy (part I) and here for adolescence and adult dog (part II).

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