Entertainment For Senior Dogs

things to do to entertain a senior dog

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Our senior dogs have probably provided us with enough entertainment to last a few lifetimes.  But how do we measure up when catering to their needs?  Let’s face it, they are probably not too impressed with our entertainment skills, but that’s about to change.

In this post, we’re going to put all of our human needs aside and define what “Entertainment for Senior Dogs” would look like from a dog’s point of view.

As you’ll soon discover, entertainment for senior dogs will put your dog’s needs first and hopefully in the process, you’ll be entertained too as a result of their happiness.

If you’re ready to learn how to perk up an old dog, have a look at some of the best entertainment ideas for senior dogs.  We are going to break these down into 2 categories:  Food Related and No Food Involved.  Let’s dive in!

Food Related Entertainment for Senior Dogs

Okay, aside from us, what do senior dogs love most?  Answer:  FOOD!  Here are some great ways to entertain a senior dog with food.

3 Cup Monte

If you’ve never played 3 cup monte with a senior dog, the time is now.  They do better than you’d think.  Using 3 cups (not clear ones), place a tasty treat under one of them and then start sliding the cups around the floor or coffee table.  After a few seconds, stop sliding and ask your dog to find the treat. 

If she gets it right, give the treat.  If not, show her the empty cup and then start sliding again.  Most dogs are really good at this game. 

If it’s too difficult, poke holes in the tops of all 3 cups to make it more rewarding for her.

Have a Taste Test

Taste tests are solid entrainment for senior dogs and you get to have fun learning your dog’s preferences.  While humans are notorious for “saving the best for last” our dogs motto is pleasure first!  

This taste test works best if you select two or three different flavors of the same style of food.  For instance: ham, turkey and salami (all deli meats) or cashew, almond, and pecan (all nuts).

Make each sample the same size and line them on a plate.  Let him sniff each one, without eating.  This can be tricky, but your senior dog is probably pretty patient with you by now. 

After he’s sniffed them all, put them back on the plate and see which he eats first.  Do it again to see if results vary or if you’ve found out that your dog really does have a preference.

Ever Changing Scavenger Hunt

Do not alert your dog as to what is going on.  Scour the fridge and pantry for at least 10 different treats suitable for your senior dog to eat.  Based upon your senior dog’s mobility, hide the various treats around the house without her knowing or in a STAY command so she doesn’t see all the hiding places. 

Once you’ve hidden all the treats let her sniff your hands and tell her to go “Find It”.  Walk around with her so that after she finds them, you can encourage her to look for more.

Let her health and mobility guide the level of difficulty so that it’s an enjoyable, rewarding experience. And if you’re into making homemade treats for your dog, consider this: No baking required dog treats.

Treat Dispensing Mind Game Toys

There are some really clever toys and games on the market, all designed to provide entertainment for senior dogs while sharpening their minds in the process.  This one by Sniffiz (product link) is a perfect example especially if your dog has amazing sniff skills:

Clickable pic for pricing

If you’d rather go the free route, you can get creative using cardboard boxes with lids (like sturdy candy style) , paper towel  tubes , cardboard egg cartons or even tins that have a relatively easy lid to open. 

Fill the container with noisy treats and let her figure it out.  For the paper towel tube, just press the ends in on each side.  Make this a supervised game and be careful not use anything that would cut your dog’s mouth. 

Treat Inside a Treat (x 10) Paper Ball

Most dogs don’t eat paper, but if yours does, this may not be a great one to choose.  Either way, supervise your senior dog while she engages in this entertainment.

Grab about 10 pieces of newspaper and tear them in half and stack them together.  Take a fun, smelly treat (not a messy one) place it in the center of the top sheet and then wad up that sheet into a ball.  Keep this ball on the other sheets of paper.

Take another treat and place it on the next sheet of paper, near the wadded up ball and wad that paper and treat over the first ball. 

Continue until you’ve place a treat inside each piece of paper and have a giant wad of paper. 

Something about newspaper combined with treats is great entertainment for senior dogs. 

No Food Involved – Entertainment for Senior Dogs


Did you know there are actually DVD’s made specifically for entertaining our fur babies?  This is great entertainment for senior dogs and they really do a good job of stimulating their brains.  

Make sure you consider your dog’s likes and dislikes before making your selection.  For instance: if your dog HATES the sound of other dogs barking or whining, then don’t choose that style.  There are many other versions that just have tropical fish swimming across the screen, birds flying, squirrels…being squirrels etc.,

The goal is to perk up your senior dog through entertainment and certainly not to cause them stress.

Make a Sheet Fort

Unlike cats, most dogs LOVE kennels and get excited when they see den-like habitats.  If your senior dog is acting especially bored today, it’s time to break out some sheets.

Sheet forts are great entertainment for senior dogs. Dogs love them so much, you could probably build one every month without your dog growing tired.

Make sure you make them safe and build them large enough for both of you to fit inside.  Maybe pop some popcorn and complete the night by watching Lady and the Tramp or 101 Dalmatians from inside the sheet fort.  

Make sure you take it down the next day…you don’t want to lose the thrill of sheet forts.

Hide and Seek – 2 People 1 dog and a Handful of Dog Toys

1 Person hides and brings a bunch of dog toys with them.  The other person walks around with the senior dog calling for the person in hiding.  For instance: Jenny is hiding. 

“Where’s Jenny”?  Let’s go find Jenny.  Ask your dog to help find Jenny and see what happens.   In the meantime, Jenny can squeak some of the toys to help give away her location (if needed).  Maybe your senior dog will lead you to Jenny just by sniffing all the way.  

Anyway, Jenny should appear as though she’s having a tea party with all of the dog’s toys.  When the dog finds the party, make a big deal and everybody joins in. 

Alternate Version – If it’s just you and your pup, hide all the toys and then walk around with your dog and let her find them all.  Call out their names (the toys have names right?) and make a big fuss when they are discovered.

Treat Their Toys like Babies

Not all senior dogs will be able to participate in activities that involve mobility.  If this is the case for your senior dog, try this on for entertainment.

Make sure he’s watching and then take one of his favorite toys and start making a fuss.  Speak to his toy the way you would a baby and give it hugs and kisses. Swaddle the toy in a blanket and give it cuddles. 

Your dog will likely perk up at all the attention your giving his toy and he’ll want to play along.  If he takes his toy away from you, let him have it and repeat with another toy. 

Ride Around and Visit Pet Friendly Drive-thru Windows

Banks are notorious for having a little dog treat for banking pups, but aside from that, dogs are absolutely entertained by humans popping out of drive-thru windows.  Driving around town is great on its own, but adding that extra component of a drive up window adds an extra layer of interest for your senior dog.

Order yourself a coffee and a cup of water for your senior dog.  Your dog will not believe his eyes when a cup of water comes through the window and he gets to quench his thirst.    

You could also stop at a fast food place and get something that wouldn’t be too unhealthy and share. 

Entertainment for Senior Dogs Summary

Your senior dog does not automatically stop needing or wanting mental stimulation when he’s older. More often than not, they decline in activity and seem “bored” because humans reduce play-time.

I think more than anything else, my senior dog loves to ride around in the car. And if you put your dog in the backseat, like I do, this hammock is the best!

I finally replaced my old hammock, which was too short and slippery…anyway this new hammock is a refreshing upgrade. It’s made by iBuddy and you can find it online here: iBuddy back seat hammock for dogs

This new hammock has so many cool features, I never realized I was missing. For instance, the mesh front means the air conditioning reaches him in the back seat. And it also has side panels that protect the car door from all that dog slobber!

this image shows the suv seat hammock we love and use when traveling with our big dog.
My dog in his new AMAZING back seat hammock.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment for senior dogs it’s just a matter of committing to making the time. These little improvements can do wonders for your senior dog’s mentality and help fill the gaps. Have Fun!

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