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As dogs grow older, their senses become less sharp and this can lead to communication difficulties developing.
Other problems, such as a breakdown in toilet training, can also arise, and while the effects of aging cannot be cured, regular veterinary check-ups should help to combat them for a period.
Your vet can advise you on the best way to care for your senior pet.
The relationship between you and your dog will inevitably alter as your dog grows older.
Dogs are now living much longer than in the past, thanks to advances in both nutrition and veterinary care, with even larger dogs now reaching their teens.
Sadly, however, a gradual decline in your dog's physical health is inevitable.
? Try not to let your dog wander off too far when you are out walking: its failing senses mean that he may come across difficulty in finding his way back to you.
? One of the obvious signs of aging, especially with bigger dogs, can be joint pain and stiffness. This will restrict your dog's ability to play, but some exercise is still important to maintain the dog's level of fitness. Preventing your dog gaining weight at this stage is especially important, so as not to place undue extra strain on his skeletal frame. Encourage your dogs to chase after toys, just as he did when he was younger.
? Be prepared to lift your dog into your car, or up stairs, because a combination of failing joints and deteriorating eyesight means that a dog will be reluctant to jump up as he may have done eagerly in the past.
? Make allowances for your dog if he does not respond immediately when called: it may be that he has hearing problems.
? If the dog's eyesight starts to fail or develops cataracts, try not to move furniture from its usual position, as the dog will find this disorientating.
? Pay particular attention to the dog's teeth and gums as these can develop infections and infect other organs.
As dogs grow older, so they become more reliant on routine. This is often then consequence of failing senses, with the result that they feel more secure in familiar surroundings.
His ability to hear will decline with age, as will his eyesight. Not surprisingly, dogs find this loss of sensory input disturbing, because it leaves him feeling isolated.
These changes often result in a dog becoming disorientated, especially at night, and being reluctant to settle down to sleep. Your dog may then bark repeatedly but for no obvious reason.
Dealing with this situation is difficult: if you persist in going to see what is wrong with your dog, this pattern of behavior soon becomes habitual. Arrange a veterinary appointment for your dog, to see if any medical aid may help.
Amy Howells is the owner of a website dedicated to teaching you the short-cuts to dog training.
You can also sign up to a free e-course and discover the astonishing short-cut secrets to dog obedience training
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