Periodically a client will call my mom to discuss an upcoming vacation for their dog and ask whether a Top Dog getaway is appropriate for their young puppy or their senior best friend. Physical exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation are so important at any age and every stage of life for our dogs. We welcome dogs from 8 weeks of age to 19 years (yup . . . that is the oldest dog that stays with us).
At Top Dog, “It is All About The Dogs!” They are the #1 priority in every decision we make, so we can customize each dog’s play day to his age, ability, and owner wishes. Here are some key things we consider when determining what level of activity is appropriate.
Exercise intensity – young puppies are developing muscle and bone structure. They are clumsy and cute and will stumble over their own 4 paws as they wrestle and tumble with their friends. Morning play should be followed by rest and maybe a noon meal and a nap before “take 2” of their play day.
Seniors need to keep moving . . . a body in motion stays in motion . . . and that activity keeps weight down and arthritis at bay, and helps to maintain muscle strength. Elder statesmen however need a lower intensity of exercise . . . walking and mingling, snuggle time with the staff, laps in the pool, followed by a nap in the sun or the shade.
Most often the dogs will tell us when they have had enough. The signs are there and we pay attention. But in some cases, the excitement of the moment keeps dogs from regulating their own play intensity . . . that’s where we come in, to help them back it down a notch when needed. A nap inside, or a leisurely walk on the wooded trail is just the ticket for those dogs that want to keep up with the pack but may need a break.
We watch the weather – both puppies and senior dogs have a harder time regulating body temp so we pay close attention and make certain they are drinking plenty or water and have shade. In the heat of summer, we rearrange our entire day to maximize playtime, going out at 6 am, staying out to play, and then coming in when the dogs get hot and serving brunch instead of breakfast. Whatever it takes . . . because play time is “sacred” at Top Dog.
Mental stimulation – It is so important for young pups - to expose them to new things and other dogs so they develop confidence and curiosity in first time situations. For seniors, mental stimulation keeps them sharp. The time they spend in play is time where we are actively working with them, teaching dogs of all ages good social skills and appropriate pack behavior.
Introducing seniors to young energy helps keep them sharp. Mom knows that her senior “kids” (like me) live longer, healthier and happier lives because we spend about 365 days each year playing at Top Dog, experiencing the energy and stimulation of younger dogs. These interactions give us seniors a job and a purpose . . . teaching our new friends the ropes.
We can schedule training sessions for the puppies . . . to develop their young minds and for we seniors . . . to keep us engaged. Learning is always a benefit whether puppy or wise elder.
For those that need some relaxation, we offer a soothing massage after dinner to keep things moving and relieve muscle aches. For dogs that have range of motion exercises prescribed by a vet, we can perform those after a day of play.
So the answer to the question is “Yes”. A customized Top Dog Vacation is great for your dog at any age!