Hond snuffelt in doos met bladerenIt’s an unfortunate, but unavoidable truth: our dogs will get older and, at some point, we have to admit they are seniors. With the passing of the years, our dogs might start to develop some physical problems. The walks get shorter, and exercise and sport become less and less frequent. This doesn’t mean our dogs are content to just hang it all up and doze off into retirement though! Dogs of all ages love Hersenwerk!

Our advice: start, or continue, doing Hersenwerk with your older dog and pay attention to changing preferences and possibilities.

When a dog gets older, they usually begin to experience physical discomforts and mental changes. As an owner of a senior dog, it is even more important to observe your dog and offer personalised support so that Hersenwerk stays as fun and enjoyable as it always has been.



Advice for Hersenwerk with Seniors

If your dog has experience with Hersenwerk then you already know what activities they like, the materials they prefer and what their particular strengths and weaknesses are. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to regularly see your dog through fresh eyes, so to speak. With age, and their associated physical and mental changes, your dog might have developed new preferences and it is important to be aware of those.

Does your dog not have any experience with Hersenwerk yet? Are younot familiar with their preferences? Then just start slowly and simply, trying out Hersenwerk with various materials and seeing what they like to work with, and which exercises they enjoy most. Once you have discovered these things, you will be well-prepared to adjust to changes in the future.

Hearing, sight, movement and the sense of touch all change as your dog ages. This can affect their preferences for certain materials. It might happen that your dog suddenly does not want to work with a particular material anymore. In that case, it might even seem like your dog does not want to do Hersenwerk at all anymore. Try out some other materials and watch how your dog reacts to these changes.

It could happen that your dog suddenly develops a distaste for the snacks or kibble you have been using with Hersenwerk so far. It might even happen that they like the food one day, only to refuse it the next. Try out some other options for dog food and snacks, making sure you can offer your dog some variety. Some dogs are very good at choosing their favourites from a range of foods. Before you start, let them choose their own preferences and you’re sure to succeed!

Once your dog gets used to Hersenwerk, they will probably develop a “snuffle stamina.” When they start to get less physical exercise, it might be a good idea to extend Hersenwerk sessions to allow your dog to spend some of their excess energy. Equally though, it might be better to keep the sessions short. Pay attention to your dog and if you notice they are getting tired, cut the session short.

If your dog is inexperienced with Hersenwerk, we suggest sticking to shorter sessions. Somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes should be enough. Observe your dog closely and round off a session if you see they are getting tired.

Standing up, lying down, moving around
A lot of dogs stand still, letting their nose rummage through materials during Hersenwerk. Standing still and bending over can be very taxing on a dog’s body and as they get older they might not be able to keep it up for very long. Keep a close eye on your dog. Perhaps you could place the puzzles on a higher surface so they don’t have to bend down or maybe they would benefit from doing the exercises lying down or moving around. We have a name for Hersenwerk exercises that require your dog to move around: stroll puzzles.

Throughout a senior dog’s life, all the aspects above are subject to change. As dog owners, our role is to continue observing and adjusting. It might take some time to discover what exactly the problem is and which adjustments might solve it. Hersenwerk is all about teamwork and our role as the human partner in the team is to personalise the work according to the dog’s needs. This is important in any stage of the dog’s life but especially so for seniors.

Do you have questions about offering Hersenwerk to your senior dog? Our Hersenwerk mentors are happy to help!