A friend with an older dog called and said her dog was starting to stumble when going down the steps. She thought the problem was related to hips or shoulders that could no longer handle the weight of the aging Rottweiler.
I remembered a Border Collie I had years ago. When he was an older dog, he started to stumble each time he stepped down a step on the wooden deck to the bottom section of the deck.
Like my friend, I had initially thought the problem was related to my dog’s hips or shoulders. After he stumbled a few times, I watched closely as Laddie went down the steps. I noticed that he moved as though he didn’t see the drop-off coming. “This is a vision problem,” I thought.
The boards on the two levels of deck all ran in the same direction and each board on the ground level was perfectly lined up with the board on the step above it.
Wanting to test the theory that we were dealing with a visual problem, I went and bought a piece of bright green indoor/outdoor carpet and covered the bottom level of the deck. Now the two surfaces were dramatically different. The next time Laddie came outside, he handled the steps with no problem at all. The problem was solved.
Older dogs can continue to have a great life if we are willing to make a few modifications such as ramps, changing surfaces, and adapting physical activities to the senior dog’s needs.
Do you have, or have you had a senior dog? How did you help your older dog through that stage of life? Share your stories and tips in the comments.