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Help Your Dog Rediscover His Inner Puppy

dog running for exercise in a field

Keeping your dog youthful and full of energy is easier than ever before. With the right nutrition from PEDIGREE®, dogs of all ages and sizes can stay at their playful and healthy best. With a little extra attention, you can keep your dog’s inner puppy active for life.

First, forget the old adage "You can’t teach an old dog new tricks." Your dog’s innate desire to work, play, and receive praise assures that he not only can learn new skills, he’ll enjoy the process. Try to teach him new games and practice new tricks regularly. Mental stimulation is good for your older dog and will keep him young and the exercise can not only help keep him at a healthy weight but also keep joints and muscles active.

The benefits of good old fun

Nothing brings out the puppy in an older dog like playtime. Don’t let your senior get lazy. Here are some tips for keeping him up and running:

  • "Fetch!" never fails to get a dog’s attention. But as he slows down, you’ll want to keep the ball closer, and if he has difficulty running or jumping, roll the ball on the ground instead of throwing it.
  • When vigorous play is no longer possible, try a quieter “hide and seek” game. Show your dog his favorite treat, like DENTASTIX, then hide it nearby. He’ll love using his sense of smell to find the reward and win your praise.
  • If your dog enjoys tugging games, be sure his older teeth can take it. Often, switching from a braided rope to a softer, squishier, more pliable toy can protect teeth and extend the fun of tugging games. But always be gentle and take a cue from your dog by letting him show you how comfortable he is with your tugging game.

While regular activity is excellent for older dogs, always keep a close eye on him for signs of pain or fatigue. With a little rest, he’ll be ready to play another day.

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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