When should you retire an active working dog and what options do you have? My oldest dog, Bella will be 11 years next spring. She was retired from competitions after 6 years as an agility dog. This is my thoughts about the seniordog and activities you can do together.
When should I retire my dog?
Many people have asked me why I chose to retire Bella from agility. She was 8 years when she was retired. She was then and still is in great shape for her age. The chance of getting injuries increases with age for dogs as for people. I chose to retire her before she got injured with a wish of having a healthy dog for several years to come.
There is not an answer for when you should retire your dog if it is a workingdog. You need to know your dog and its limits. If you are unsure you should seek advice with a veterinarian, physical therapist or chiropractor
Training and competitions for the seniordog
If the dog is retired from agility, herding or other strenuous activities that does not mean it can only go for walks. The seniordog still needs physical and mental stimulation. There are several things you can do together with your dog which is less strenuous and can be adjusted to the dog’s needs.
My choice for Bella was rallyobedience. I experienced the people within this sport to be very open, positive and welcoming to all levels, breeds and ages. My advice is to not be afraid to try something new and see what can be suitable for you. Take a seminar or visit a dogclub to try out something new.
Maintaining the body
Keeping a retired dog fit is just as important as keeping an active one fit. Since Bella is in excellent shape she comes with us for hiking, skiing and such but she also gets regular stretching and strength training. In addition to this she also receives regular massage therapy. This keeps her muscles and tendons strong and healthy. I will also be able to detect any injuries sooner.
Here we see Bella doing cavalettis. It should look effortless and natural.
Here we see Bella performing position changes, bear and stand on two.
These exercises works out her muscles without them being to strenuous for her.