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EDUCATION

Lori Stevens (right) advocates for pet parents to take a more active role with their elderly dogs

is common for an aging pet to express anxiety or fearful reactions to once familiar toys, people, sounds, etc. Therefore, the need to countercondition becomes more of an everyday routine. Using games that require senior pets to “rehearse intentional startles” is one way owners can help them past this aging hurdle. Due to changes in mental, physical and sensory abilities, pet behavior consultant and PPG special counsel member Dr. Lynn Honeckman explained, “The world becomes very small for our seniors,” and we have a responsibility to prepare them for this stage in their life. To do so, Sdao suggested “let[ting] go of your remembered dog and really see[ing] the older, stiffer, confused dog doing her best.” Discussions followed on how to keep seniors engaged in playing, as well as providing motivation to keep them eating, until, ultimately, how to prepare for losing them. In an exchange of tender moments shared by presenters and attendees, we all learned the importance of planning ahead, and making choices for our pet’s final transition to avoid emotions driving our decisions in the final moments. While age can no doubt introduce a set of challenges for both senior dogs and their guardians, Sdao and Stevens led an impassioned plea for attendees to make their senior’s gray muzzled years a rich experience by accepting presented limitations while still engaging them in moments of joy, and empowering them with the support to give what they have to offer in the here and now. n

Gray muzzle guardians need to create learning opportunities that strengthen a senior pet’s emotional resilience

Owners of senior dogs should continue to capture and shape behaviors

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The workshop encouraged guardians to keep senior dogs engaged in playing

A dog’s senior years can still be a rich experience for both canine and human guardian

Workshop attendees were presented with ideas for enrichment and empowerment to engage their senior canines mentally and physically

Senior dog guardians can make simple changes in the home to help their dog’s mobility

We are always on the lookout for interesting features, member profiles, case studies and training tips to feature in BARKS from the Guild and BLOGS from the Guild. If you’d like to join the growing band of member contributors, please get in touch.

Email: barkseditor@petprofessionalguild.com BARKS from the Guild/May 2017

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BARKS from the Guild May 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild May 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...