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Articles > Dogs

Getting The Whole Family Involved

Topic: Dogs for Seniors

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1 of 5 Paws Rating
Filed under Dogs
Tags: Exercise, Socialization, Grooming

Hello, my name is Rachelle Randall and I am the proud owner of two well-mannered Shih Tzu adult dogs. They recently had their second litter of puppie…


Bakersfield, CA

Shih Tzu

Caring for a dog or a puppy is a great way to get the whole family involved and interacting with senior family members. By having everyone participating in the care, exercise and socialization of the dog the pressure is removed from the senior adult, allowing them to experience the joy of having a pet without the pressure of all the day-to-day aspects of care. It also helps family stay in touch with the senior on a regular basis without appearing to be checking up on the individual.

It is certainly true that puppies, and later mature dogs, provide a constant source of entertainment for the people in their lives. The dog's playful attitudes, silly behaviors and habits and the tricks and commands they learn can be a wonderful way to create conversation and bring the family together. One important consideration when choosing a breed of dog if you want to keep the whole family involved for many years to come is to select a breed that is great with children but also very playful, right up to the dog's senior years. Most of the smaller breeds and medium sized breeds are going to fall into this category while toy dogs tend to be less playful but more affectionate and the giant and very large breeds tend to be calmer as they mature.

Kids will typically be more than willing to get involved in helping Grandma or Grandpa raise a puppy or a dog. This is often a wonderful way for kids and grandparents to spend some time together in a healthy type of activity such as dog walking, training, or just enjoying a game of fetch or hide and seek. Kids and dogs are just a natural combination, plus they offer a great opportunity for being a bit more active with the dog or puppy than grandparents may typically be. It is important that if children are not familiar or comfortable with dogs that the parents and the grandparents spend time in helping the children and the dog learn how to interact with each other. While is always easiest when the dog is young, even older dogs can adapt and learn to enjoy the company of children. Providing a slow, supervised adjustment time is the best possible option for both the kids and the dog.

Getting involved in helping seniors care for their pets doesn't just have to involve taking the dog for a walk or spending some time playing with the pooch. There are many different routines that have to occur every day when you own a dog, so helping out with the less fun and entertaining aspects of owning a dog may also be very much appreciated. For many seniors, some of the day-to-day maintenance issues may be the most challenging. A good example is buying dog food, especially for the medium to large sized dogs. In most cases it just doesn't make good economic sense to buy the small sizes of dog food bags, especially if you have a larger sized dog. Often the cost of the smaller bags is significantly more than buying a large 50 pound bag, especially when it comes to the premium types of kibble.

One task that family members can take on is purchasing these large bulk types of dog food and then transferring it to more manageable containers for the older person. Many pet food manufacturers sell sturdy plastic cans or bins for dog food that are ideal for placing in cupboards or closets. Not only do these plastic bins keep the food dry and out of way but they also keep bugs and flies out of the food and prevent the smell of the food from attracting insects. Ideally testing the lids of these containers to make sure they do seal well will be an important factor if bugs are an issue.

Grooming and bathing the dog can be a way to save elderly people a lot of money on going to the groomers. For small breeds of dogs that need four or five full clips or touch-ups plus several full baths a year the cost can run about $300, and for larger breeds or breeds with more intensive grooming needs this can be as much as double that amount. Family members that know how to groom, bath and clip the dog can offer to provide these services for free. This offer may also allow the older person to get more involved in the grooming, even if it just holding the dog and keeping him or her calm and relaxed.

Brushing the dog, especially when he or she is shedding is also a great way to help out. Most dogs with medium to long hair and double coats will need at least every other day during the heavy spring shed and some also shed again in the autumn. Keep in mind that in some breeds females will shed during the time they are in heat and this is another great reason to recommend spaying as early as possible. Males typically do not have this extra shed however since males are generally larger, especially in the big breeds, they will shed slightly more year round.

Finally, the least glamorous of all dog related chores is cleaning up the yard area. While nobody likes this job, it really is a big help to people to have this chore done by somebody as a surprise or a regular commitment. The good news is that with routine, weekly yard maintenance the dog will stay healthier plus the lawn will also stay nice looking for everyone to enjoy. If you really just can't stand this chore a great Christmas, birthday or just because gift to give is a years lawn maintenance service. There are lots of companies, especially in bigger centers, that offer dog waste removal as part of a total lawn care package or as a stand alone service. Hiring someone does require doing some background checks on the company for reliability and overall satisfaction but a professionally run company should have no hesitation to provide references for their services.

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