Activities for Dogs with Poor Mobility
Dr. Teresa Hershey
There are several times throughout a dog’s life where they may need some type of activity to stimulate their brain, but they may not be able to do much physical exercise. Sometimes this is due to doctor’s orders (such as recovering from a surgery), or because the patient has limited mobility from arthritis or other conditions causing weakness.
Our friends experiencing these situations still need environmental enrichment to keep them happy and loving life.
Below is a list of ideas for dogs in these situations. As always, use your best judgment when deciding which activities are right for your pet.
- Snuffle Mat: These rugs feature many hiding spots to put treats. Check out this snuffle mat on Amazon.
- Puzzle Toys: You can find many different types of puzzle toys easily on the web. Here is a link to one of my favorites.
- Kong stuff with low fat cottage cheese. A kong toy can keep dogs interested for a long time, especially if the kong and stuffing is frozen.
- Hide food around the house: Instead of feeding your dog from a bowl twice a day, try hiding small dishes of food around the house for him to find.
- Licky mats stuck to outdoor furniture is fun for dogs that can safely be left outside for a while.
- Simple training tricks like “sit”, “lay down” and “wait” are great even for dogs that know these commands. You are engaging with your pet, and that’s what they love most.
- Learn canine massage techniques. There are many books on canine massage. One author in particular, Joanne Lang, is a well-respected massage therapist for dogs. She runs the Lang Institute for Canine Massage in Colorado where she certifies canine massage therapists. Her book is available on Amazon called “Massage your Dog the Lang Way”.
- Bring scents in from the outdoors. If your dog can’t go for a walk, you can still bring smells home for them. Collect branches and leaves on your walk and put them in a cardboard box for your dog to smell. This is a very enriching and satisfying experience for them.
- Go on a Rucksack Walk with your dog. This slow walk engages your dog’s senses in a safe, low stress way. Here is a link to a YouTube video on how to do a Rucksack Walk.