What is it about humans, senior dogs, and bucket lists? There’s the well-known “Dream Weekend” commercial and the popular children’s book Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List, which both celebrate the ritual that some families with older dogs take part in — creating a “bucket list” of fun activities to do together.
We’ve compiled a list of activities for you to help create special milestones to commemorate your dog’s golden years. After all, just because your special pal is getting older doesn’t mean they’re no longer up for an adventure, especially when their favorite humans are involved.
Hit the open road
Listen to Travels with Charley or your dog’s favorite playlist and head out on a road trip. For some ideas, you can check our guides on things to do with your dog in Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, and more.
Go for a dip
Swimming can be therapeutic for dogs, especially seniors. Consider the ocean, lakes, dog-friendly swimming facilities, or your own pool—or add all of the above to your special pal’s bucket list.
Take them out for a stroll
Going for walks may be more difficult than before for your senior dog, but that’s no reason they shouldn’t still enjoy the sights and smells of the neighborhood. Large or small, there are plenty of dog stroller options to keep your pup mobile during daily walks.
Stop and smell…everything
Wonder what it would be like to have a dog’s sense of smell? Imagine smelling 10,000 to 100,000 times better than you currently can, and then you’ll have an idea of what it’s like to have a nose that’s on your dog’s level. Of course, there’s a fun way to turn your dog’s superpowers into a game that you both can enjoy: AKC Scent Work, a dog sport that’s all about the power of sniffing.
Teach an old dog new tricks
Who says senior dogs can’t enjoy new (or old favorite) tricks? Here are some to add to your dog’s bucket list:
- Obedience: There’s a pet that knows how to follow the house rules, and there’s one that can compete in the sport of obedience, which is where dogs can show off how well they can walk on and off-leash, retrieve, jump, and stay.
- AKC Rally: Your dog may be up for the challenge, but are you? How well you two collaborate will help determine if you win the sport of navigating a course of 10-20 signs — each with their own task to be performed — together.
- AKC Trick Dog: Famous dogs like Rin Tin Tin and Lassie were among the original trick dogs. Your pal can take part too—there’s even a way to compete virtually.
Throw an epic dog birthday party
Invite your dog’s favorite people and pets, serve up special treats, and, of course, include time for toys and games at this pup party. And while you’re at it, why limit yourselves to celebrating just once a year? After all, in dog years, your pet deserves a few extra celebrations.
Enjoy a special meal at a restaurant
Find your favorite local restaurant that accommodates dogs in an outdoor seating area or head to one of these national chain restaurants that offer something special for pets. You may enjoy the names of the menu items — dog lattes, puppuccinos, pooch-inis, oh my! — as much as your dog enjoys trying them out.
Take a pleasure cruise
Your dog may no longer be up for more vigorous water activities like stand-up paddleboarding, but they can still take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the sea with you by their side from the comfort of a motorboat, sailboat, canoe, or kayak.
Capture all the moments
Preserve these special moments together with a dog photoshoot or even a one-of-a-kind dog (and dog’s best friend) portrait together. Your dog may not see all the colors of the photos or painting, but your little one will likely always recognize that loving look in your eyes.