Sooner or later, it happens to everyone’s performance dog - Retirement. While it is the end of your canine athlete's competitive career, it doesn't have to be the end of your dog’s life as a partner in training. And it certainly shouldn't mean that your former athlete should be relegated to the couch to sleep away her remaining days while you and the younger dogs enjoy the sports she once enjoyed. In fact, it's just the opposite! Your retired athlete should hit the “gym” regularly to stay fit and enjoy her retirement. Read on to understand how exercise helps slow the overall aging process and keep your dog young.
Working out, balance exercises in particular, help your dog’s brain continue to function at peak levels and slows the onset of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or signs of senility. Balance work is like a crossword puzzle for the brain and body to figure out.
Is your K9 retiree bored or depressed because you and the young “pups” are out there and she’s just watching or stuck at home? Exercise for your dog is a proven mood booster! Staying active causes the release of “feel good” hormones to help keep your K9 athlete happy and feel confident in life.
Just as in people, as part of the aging process, your retiree will gradually lose muscle mass and strength. This sarcopenia is a generalized muscle wasting that occurs in nearly every dog but will be more evident in a former athlete. Unless you actively fight against it.
Consistent exercise, that is low impact, can help reduce mild achiness and discomfort. Flexibility exercises can help reduce stiffness and maintain full movement in joints and muscles.
The single best reason to exercise with your former athlete, though, is to maintain the level of interaction with your dog. When the time comes for your younger dog to be the primary working partner, your retired athlete will miss the frequent training and close interaction that the two of you enjoyed together. The partnership and level of communication you shared doesn't have to end. You can enjoy each other and still train together in canine fitness!