Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.
senior golden retriever playing with brain puzzle

Stimulating Toys for Older Dogs

6 min read

As your dog ages their requirements change, whether that's thinking about a senior dog diet or adjusting schedules to fit around your older dog.

This includes what toys they play with or activities they participate in. Your ageing friend may no longer be able to  fly round an agility course or chase a ball for hours but that doesn’t mean that their urge to play and to interact with you has gone!


Toys for older dogs

When your dog becomes older you may think that they’ll no longer want to play or might not have the energy to play with you.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Their relationship with you becomes even more important to them, and so time spent interacting with you through age-appropriate play and games becomes a vital part of keeping them healthy and happy.

You just need to consider changing your older dog’s toys, and the games you enjoy together, shorten how long you play, and adjust how intense and active your play times are.

These toys can help you both make the most out of your play times and you may be surprised at how much fun you and your older dog can still have!


Chew toys for sensitive teeth

With older dogs it’s still important to keep caring for their teeth, much like you did when they were younger. The best way to do this is with a chew toy, as not only does chewing help keep their teeth clean, but it can also help alleviate stress and it gives them an outlet for their natural chewing, gnawing foraging behaviour that dogs retain all through their lives!

You might find that your senior dog is just as happy and just as enthusiastic chewing their old favourites – or you might have to get something softer and not as demanding on older teeth and jaws.

The Senior Kong is a perfect toy for your older dog, it’s made from a softer rubber than regular Kong toys, so it’s kinder to sensitive gums and teeth, but still just as durable. And like the other popular Kong toys on the market, you can still fill this senior dog toy with treats to keep your dog happy and occupied. We suggest in the summer months filling it with dog-friendly peanut butter and freezing it for a refreshing snack.

For some dogs you can’t beat a homemade dog toy – such as an old kitchen towel cardboard tube with some treats inside and the ends folded down. This can be opened without much strength, and for those who love to destroy things, they can tear the thin cardboard with little effort but still get the joy of a successful hunt!


Stimulating dog toys

As dogs age, their brain function can begin to slow down, but if you regularly exercise their brains and provide mental stimulation it can help them remain mentally active. So, it’s a great idea to introduce stimulating dog toys such as puzzles or interactive toys into their playtime. These are also ideal for older dogs if they can no longer run around like they used to, as it can still give them some much-needed stimulation.

Nina Ottosson’s range of dog puzzles and interactive toys can help exercise both your dog’s mind and body and can reduce boredom – but there are a whole range of homemade toys you can make for your dog (which in itself can be a great bonding experience).

Always use interactive toys – especially more difficult problem-solving ones – on a non-slip floor as the effort of standing and not sliding for long periods of time can be too much for older joints. And for some, puzzle toys that can be done lying down are far more appropriate.

Toys for older dogs with reduced vision

Just like with humans, as dogs get older their vision can deteriorate and they can develop certain eye problems. It’s important to consider this when choosing toys for older dogs, as they may not be able to see well enough to be able to catch things or locate toys.

Thankfully dogs most usually retain their sense of smell when other senses fade and so toys that retain their smell are far better if you are going to play gentle retrieve games or ‘find the toy’ games.

As we humans rely on our eyes, we tend to overlook our dog’s amazing sense of smell – and this is going to play a far bigger role in your older dog’s playtime.


Dog toys for poor hearing

Much like with their eyesight, your dog’s hearing can also worsen with age. Your dog’s favourite toys when they were younger may have been squeaky toys that they’d bite and squeak for hours on end. But now that they’re older they may have lost interest as they can no longer hear that satisfying squeak as well as they used to but thankfully while your older dog may experience partial hearing loss, they probably still will be able to hear higher frequencies.

What is important to remember however is that if you are playing games out on your walk with your older dog off-lead, they may not be able to locate you when you call them back (especially if their eyesight is fading as well). Some can get lost quite close to you – and others can run in totally the wrong direction and then panic when they can’t find you. With a bit of practise however you can still play great games with your dog with a long line on – so you can keep them safe and still enjoy your playtime.


Hide and seek games

A game of hide and seek is perfect for engaging your dog’s mind and curiosity, it encourages your dog to work their brain by hiding their favourite treats and toys around the house. This is also particularly suitable for older dogs as they may no longer be able to exercise as much as they used to, and this game can satisfy your dog’s need for play and discovery.

An old bath towel on the floor with treats or piece of kibble hiding in folds can be a wonderful game that is a combination of hide and seek and scent work.

Setting up sniffaris in the garden can be great fun too.

NOTE: Don’t play hide and seek games where you hide and your dog has to find you however. Older dogs with failing senses can get lost or panicky if they think they've lost you.

These are just a few suggestions for games and toys for your older dog – there are loads of toys and games on the market to cater for your dog’s changing needs so have a look around and find out what your dog likes!

Stimulating dog toys are incredibly beneficial as they’re a tool that can help your dog’s brain remain active. We also recommend regular training for your older dog to maintain brain function even as they age.

Want to find out more about caring for your senior dog? Discover how old your dog is in human years with our handy tool, next!