German Shepherd is a breed that is full of energy, but as they get older, they may start slowing down and prefer sleeping to playing. This is totally normal — every dog slows down with age. However, that doesn’t mean that exercise and play time isn’t important anymore. In fact, exercise (when done right) helps keep their limbs loose and strong, which can prevent arthritis, dislocation, and other injuries.
Keeping our German Shepherd friends mentally and physically active is always essential, but for older furry companions, it requires more attention. This is why you need to get their attention with their favorite activities and get them excited to go outside and move.
One thing to remember though: they may not be as enduring and energetic as their younger years. So, it is important to be careful while doing exercises with your senior German Shepherd. You should know their limits so that they do not become exhausted or injured.
Here are some of our favorite exercises for senior German Shepherds.
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Exercise 1: Walking is a Must
They may not be as interested in running and jumping in the air to catch the ball as they used to be, but long walks are great for German Shepherds of all ages. Puppy, adult, or senior, they’ll always love the excitement of exploring new trees, insects or making new friends.
The new smells will help keep their brain active as well, so mix it up every now and then. Go on a walking trail through the wood, go for a walk in the fresh snow (with adequate protection, of course), or go outside after it rains. Your dog will love taking in all of the new scents and it will help get them active.
You need to choose smooth and soft terrain to make them exercise without stressing their joints. Concrete is okay, but in shorter bursts. Giving treats can make it easier to convince your senior German Shepherd that just wants to lay down next time.
Add In A Little Extra Support
It is crucial for especially senior dog owners to be conscious about knee issues, such as CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) strain, and arthritis. If your dog has been diagnosed with a knee injury or if this injury ever happens to your buddy, you should know that they need to be supported just like humans. CCL braces, more commonly known as dog ACL braces, are perfect for supporting your pup’s leg, relieving discomfort, and helping prevent injury.
Exercise 2: Swimming is a Fun Option
Assuming they like water, you can take your senior German Shepherd to swimming. It is really good and healthy for them. Swimming is a low impact exercise, which makes it a perfect fit for your senior German Shepherd. It is helpful for stretching legs and easing the strains that your senior buddy may suffer from.
German Shepherds are usually fans of swimming, but if your senior German Shepherd friend is introduced to water for the first time, you should take it slow in shallow water. Even walking in shallow water can help take some weight off their tired limbs. Every little bit helps!
Exercise 3: Dateless Fetch!
Playing fetch with a German Shepherd is always possible and so much fun. However, as mentioned above, you need to keep in mind that your senior German Shepherd buddy may not be as nimble anymore. Therefore, it might be a good call to take it slow and keep fetch time shorter than it used to be.
You should not be expecting extraordinary catches or impressive leaps. The most important thing to keep in mind while exercising with your senior German Shepherd is that your buddy should not take the harsh impact of his/her movements. Do not throw the ball too far or high as you once did. Do not forget to take breaks and reward your buddy with a treat!
Exercise 4: Hide and Seek with Toys (or you!)
Although Hide and Seek is not an active physical activity, keeping your senior German Shepherd mentally active is as important as their physical well-being. You can play it inside the house or in the park. Simply hide their favorite toy (or yourself) and have them find it.
This game is quite good at making senior buddies be interested and want to move. You should introduce the scent of an object or a treat and hide it afterward. You can start with the easy spots to hide the item and make it harder; but remember, you should not make it impossible for the buddy to find. You need to be aware of the fact that you are playing with a senior German Shepherd.
And that’s it! Your German Shepard is a staple of your family and is still the puppy you once knew, even if they’re a bit slower. Make sure you shower them with extra love and care to make their golden years the best time of their life.
Author Bio: Casey Watts is a former journalist and current content. She enjoys spending time hiking, reading, and hanging out with her dog, Peter, and her cat, Olive.