Even though your dog’s puppy years are far behind him, his need to play is still strong. Playtime provides senior dogs with mental stimulation, keeps their cognitive skills in tip-top shape, and helps them maintain a youthful personality. Check out the following ways to engage your senior dog in mentally challenging, age-appropriate play.
Games to Play With Your Senior Dog
Games that require exertion, like fetch or chase, may no longer be appropriate for your older dog. But there are still lots of ways to play together that are suited to his physical condition. One of the best is hide-and-seek. This game can take many forms, depending on your dog’s interests and health, but the basic rule is the same – your dog needs to find something he can’t see.
If you want to be the one hiding, put your dog in a “stay” and then find a place in the house or yard out of your dog’s sight. Next, call out to your dog to “Find it.” In the beginning, you may need to call his name or make other encouraging noises to help him figure out the point of the game. When he finds you, reward him with a treat, toy, or cuddles, whatever he finds most rewarding. Start by hiding close by, in easy-to-find locations, then gradually make your hiding spots trickier. Even if your senior dog is hard of hearing, he can still participate by using his nose to track you down.
The hidden object can also be a toy or treat. Start by placing the object in an obvious location and giving the “Find it” cue while you point at the object. Once your dog begins to catch on, you can start using farther locations and placing the object out of sight, like behind a piece of furniture or on top of a chair.
Another twist on hide-and-seek involves placing the treat or toy within the folds of a blanket or towel, so your dog has to sniff it out and use his paws and nose to uncover it. Or wrap it in a tea towel. To add an extra level of difficulty, tie the ends of the tea towel together in a loose knot.
Best Stuffed Puzzle Toy
For a more interactive indoor adventure, consider this puzzle featuring six adorable squeaky squirrels. Dogs have a challenging time retrieving squirrels hidden in a fabric tree trunk base. It’s available in small, large, and extra large. You can buy more squirrels separately.
Customers recommended supervising the use of this product to delay squirrel destruction. Though some reviews noted the puzzle doesn’t hold up against aggressive chewing, others love how much fun their dogs have with it. Price: $15
Best Fetch Toy Approved by Veterinarians
For a fun toy that cleans teeth and soothes gums, try KONG’s chew toy that’s recommended by veterinarians and dog trainers. It can be filled with kibble, peanut butter, or other treats. This toy is manufactured in the USA and is available in small, medium, and large. When it gets grimy it’s no problem — this t–oy is dishwasher-safe.
Verified reviewers rave about the pliable rubber coating and overall durability. The most common complaints reviewers had was the bad smell and small size. Price: $7
Best Value for a Toy
Featuring a raccoon, fox, and squirrel, these lightweight squeaky toys are sure to provide hours of fun. Best of all, there’s less mess — these cute woodland creatures are stuffing free. Measuring 18 inches long, the large size is recommended for medium sized dogs. A small size is available for smaller dogs.
This set is Amazon’s top choice for squeak toys for dogs. While some reviewers called the animals indestructible, others noted that the toys fell apart quickly. Many customers felt they got a good deal for the price. Price: $9 (3 pack)
Our Favorite Puzzle
For a toy that provides mental stimulation and physical engagement, try this game complete with three ways to play — dogs can flip, slide, and pull bricks apart to reveal treats. With 20 treat compartments, this is sure to keep your dog busy for hours. The plastic toy comes with removable bone pieces but compartments can be filled with both wet and dry food.
Owners appreciated the easy-to-clean puzzle for keeping their dogs entertained. Negative reviews say the compartment lids are easily destroyed and the puzzle was easily solved. Price: $18
Best Plush Toy for Dog
Your dog will love fetching, playing, and cuddling with this soft and squeaky plush duck. The 14 inch length makes it perfect for any sized dog and can be ordered as a set of two.
The Multipet Duckworth Duck is Amazon’s third favorite bestseller for dog plush toys. Purchasers boast that the oversized toy is long-lasting. However, repeat customers complained they received smaller ducks of lesser quality than what’s advertised. Price: $8
Our Favorite Toy Made in the USA
Made in the USA, Playology’s Pebble Chew uses natural ingredients and protein scents to encourage active playtime. This chewable toy is made with non-toxic, BPA-free, and lead-free foam, comes in bacon, beef, and chicken flavors, and is easy-to-clean.
Several users reported that the toy’s odd shape made it bounce, creating a fun game of fetch for their dogs. There are few critiques — a couple of users noted a lack of interest in the product or pieces breaking apart. Price: $15
The AKC independently selected each product featured in this article. If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale. While we do our best to update links often, please note that prices and deals are subject to change.