In a recent study, researchers in Vienna taught elderly dogs to play computer games and found that they can help slow down mental deterioration. The scientists used touch-screen tasks on a computer, combined with rewards, to motivate them to perform.
The study compared computer games for elderly dogs to elderly people doing Sudoku puzzles and proposed that this could also be an alternative to more physically demanding activities.
Physical limitations often mean that elderly dogs do not get walked and many spend a great deal of their time sleeping. Inactivity can make joints cease up and the resulting pain and general lack of stimulation can lead to a general sense of apathy.
The researchers are hoping that the computer-game study might kick-start the production of a living-room friendly alternative.
But until then, try some of these simple alternatives:
Applying these simple activities into an elderly dog's routine will help create positive emotions, slow down mental deterioration and improve quality of life.
Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk