Outdoor Fun with Your Senior Dog

Puppies and adolescent dogs don’t usually stay long in shelters. Puppies, of course, are adorable. And adolescent dogs promote ideas of long hikes, games of fetch in the park, and other doggy athletic activities.

So why should someone adopt an older dog? What fun can you have with a dog that’s all worn out?

Older dogs may have many good years in them and be ready for new adventures. My dog Agatha learned to kayak at 13 years old. And Shadow, at 10 years old, was strong enough to pull me up a mile long sledding hill while barely panting.

If you adopt an older dog, what kind of outdoor fun can you look forward to?


Dog in Bike Trailer

You said I could drive the next time!

While running on hard pavement can be hard on older joints, some fit dogs find trotting beside a bike on a soft trail lots of fun. If you’re too much of a jock to keep a slow and easy pace for your dog, maybe you’d enjoy the workout of pulling a trailer. Does your dog likes long car rides with his head out the window? He’s a natural for a bike trailer.


Boating is often better with dogs who don’t adore the water–you don’t have to worry about them jumping out and making a nuisance of themselves. Small to medium dogs can fit into a recreational kayak. I even saw one couple who fastened a small laundry basket to the deck of their kayak for their small dogs.

If your dog is too large for a kayak, try a canoe. Many canoe rental facilities will allow you to bring your dog. You may want to call ahead first.

Dog in canoe

No, port is left and starboard is right.

And here’s where having a senior dog is great. Do you really want a bouncy teenager tipping you into the drink? Or would you rather have a more serene older dog as your crew member? 


Dogs, with their amazing noses, find being outdoors very stimulating. Tent camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. And your older dog will find it great fun to lay on top of you without having to jump all the way up onto a bed.

Camping with dogs has extended my camping season into October. Your big fuzzy radiator will warm up the tent fast.

Snow Games

Many dogs love the snow. Building little snow dogs with your pup, tossing fluffy snowballs at her nose, and creating a trail for her to follow are all great wintry fun. If your dog is a digger, hide some yummy treats in the snow or a favorite toy. See how long it takes her to find them.


Dog lying down in the grass.

Ahhhhhh, sun!

And finally, if your dog has slowed down, he can always enjoying lying in the sun and sighing with pleasure. Lying in the sun is a wonderful pleasure; with a dog by your side it’s pure bliss.

Don’t forget! November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Search Petfinder.com to find your new friend.

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  1. Thanks for putting in a word for the older pets. There’s plenty of life and living left in most older dogs. And besides, with age comes wisdom, right? (He said, well aware of the many gray hairs in his own muzzle…)
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    • Well, I don’t know if gray hair necessarily points out wisdom. I’ve had gray hairs since I was 18 but I’m still waiting for the wisdom.