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Vet's corner

Staying young at heart

As dogs age, they slow down and become less responsive. Which means you need to get creative. Here, dog behaviour expert Sharon Bolt of good-dogs.co.uk suggests four gentle ways in which you can enhance the quality of your dog’s life in his golden years

Get hands-on

Massaging your senior dog is a great way to bond while soothing any aching joints and muscles at the same time. Use circular motions and gentle pressure, helping him to relax and feel loved. Start at his head, then attend to his neck, shoulder, chest and legs, finishing with gentle strokes either side of his spine.

Try sign language

Dogs experience the world through their nose first, then eyes, then ears. Happily, this means that life can still be enjoyable for dogs that are deaf or hard of hearing. If your dog is starting to lose his hearing, teaching him hand signals for different commands such as sit, come and stay will keep the bond of communication strong between you.

Keep active

OK, so long hikes and chasing balls may be out, but light exercise such as walking and swimming helps strengthen muscles, keeps ligaments and tendons flexible, and prevents obesity. Being outdoors provides the stimulation of regular social interaction with other pets and people, too.

Game it up

Your older dog might not be up to the wild and crazy chases he used to love, but creating fun games in the home is a great way to mentally stimulate him. Devising a game where you hide a few healthy treats for him to find can be great fun. Moreover, old dogs can learn new tricks, so teaching him to ‘high five’, for example, could be enjoyable and stimulating for you both.

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