Hydration for Older Dogs
The main problem with many older dogs is that they forget to drink, or, due to arthritis or joint pain, they have trouble getting up and moving around, so they avoid going to their water bowl. Dehydration -- even mild -- is a bad state for a senior dog.
The recommendations are: (1)
thoroughly wash and re-fill your dog's water bowl several times a day. (2)
Set out several water bowls in locations that your dog can reach easily. (3)
Deliver the water bowl to your dog if you notice he hasn't had a drink in a long time.
Be certain that the water you give your older dog is clean and free of pollutants. Because an older Pug’s kidneys may not be functioning as well as when he was younger, they won't tolerate impure water. Filtered water is always a great idea.
A good guideline to use is that if the water is good enough for you to drink, it's good enough for your dog. Similarly, if you don't think you should drink it, your older Pug probably shouldn't drink it either.
Cold and dampness are hard on a senior Pug. As your Pug ages, his coat will get thinner and her circulation will be less efficient, making him feel the cold more. Protect him with a sweater and/or rain gear when necessary.
Older dogs are also more susceptible to becoming overheated in hot weather. Shade your older dog from the sun and keep him in an air-conditioned room in very hot weather. Take shorter rather than longer walks in the hot weather. Be sure he has plenty of cool water to drink.
When winter is upon us, we need to focus on the special needs of senior Pugs, that can be especially susceptible to the extremes of temperature and other stressful, dangerous conditions of winter.
Does your older Pug need a sweater? How about a raincoat? Wet fur decreases your dog's ability to fend off the cold. Even if she's never needed these before, as she gets older, she'll be less able to keep herself warm with activity.
Is your Pug’s sleeping area free from drafts? Is there a blanket and thick mattress pad for her to snuggle under/sleep on?
Protect the paws from ice melt chemicals. Stepping on the pebbles can cause chemical burns, but also stepping into puddles in which ice melt has melted can cause burns as well. Waterproof boots are the way to go to provide protection and good traction. Most Pugs do well with shoes and don't mind them at all.
An older dog tends to sleep more, but that doesn't mean he should be left alone more. His nose still tells him when he has human company, even as he naps on and off. He will still hear your voice (or sense your presence through vibrations), even though he looks like he's dreaming.
Give your older dog the benefit of as much human companionship as he's had throughout his life - even increase it, if possible. Keep him near you and take him with you when you go places. It will increase his sense of security and his involvement with his immediate world and give him quality of life.
In general, dogs like routine and don't often do well with major changes. Older dogs like for things to stay the same even more. To the extent possible, keep your Pug’s home environment and routines as they always have been. For example, his water and food bowls should be in the same location and he should be fed and walked at the usual times and in the usual places.
Of course, individual dogs will vary in their ability to deal with change in their surroundings. Dogs with decreased vision will be more stressed if the furniture is changed around than dogs whose vision is still good.
Be alert to signs of stress in your dog that you may have inadvertently caused by a change in home environment. Try to help her adjust by giving attention and guidance and lots of positive reinforcement when she seems to become more relaxed about the change.
Slippery floors of hardwood or laminate may become a problem as your dog ages. You'll notice that your Pug may begin to have trouble getting up from the bare floor, or walking across the bare floor. If so, cover the problem areas of the floor with a rubber-backed/non-skid runner or area rug.
Your older Pug's sleeping areas are particularly important environmental factors. Many older dogs - particularly those with arthritis in hips and back - seem to prefer sleeping on an "egg crate" type orthopedic mattress. Not only does it seem to provide a more even surface and therefore give better skeletal alignment, it also tends to reduce pressure on the dog's bony areas. .
Training an Older Dog
Forget the saying: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." An older dog is actually easier to train than a puppy. One of the reasons is that just about any dog who has reached the age of 5 or more has learned what "No" means.
In order to behave acceptably in human company, he has also learned generally what is expected of him. He is calmer and quieter than a puppy, and so he is able to focus better on what you are trying to teach him.
He has learned about dominance and has a firm grasp of the concept of "alpha" dog. As an older dog, he is not trying to prove his dominance over humans, and, in general, he is ready to fit himself into his human family "pack," and to do whatever is necessary to make that fit as comfortable as possible.
Every dog is an individual. Some dogs are more highly motivated than others to please their human companions. Some will be much more sensitive than others to tone of voice or to the cues you use in giving praise. Dog owners are individuals, too, so you need to be aware of your own tendencies and preferences when it comes to training.