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When Annie was a puppy, I had just gotten over a few older dog deaths. So I tried to teach her to do a few things that it would have been nice if our older dogs had known. I really really wanted her to communicate if she was in pain or having difficulties with something.

1) I trained her to use a litter box. One of the dogs became incontinent in her old age and could no longer hold it over night. It was very wearing for my mother to wake up in the middle of the night to let the dog out every night, or wake up to cleaning up a puddle on the floor. Teaching Annie to use a litter box maybe made potty training a little harder, but I hope if she ever needs it, it will make it easier to transition to one for middle of the night issues.
2) Asking for help with stairs and jumping up. Annie had always been a bit cautious about needing to see where she leaps and I taught her as a young puppy that if she puts her front feet up and stares at me, I will boost her rear end. It's a bit annoying at times, as she does this if at all hesitant (like if it's too dark to see where she would be landing on my bed), but I was really grateful for this when she was spayed and woozy to help get her in and out of the car. I was also really grateful when she was woozy from having to have her leg stitched, and she asked me to carry her up the stairs to my apartment.
3) Closely related, but tolerating being carried. Useful if she is ever injured and also useful to get in and out of canoes in places where the footing is poor or lift her to avoid broken glass (have done this on a few walks).
4) Crate training - vets offices use crates! A stressful surgery would be even more stressful if not used to being confined.
5) Being comfortable/still on an exam table. Makes shots and vet inspections (not to mention grooming) much easier.

Another I have thought about but not yet done is muzzle training which could be useful if she is ever in pain.

What do you do to prepare for old age and injury in your dogs? If you have older dogs, what skills do you wish they had learned earlier?
 

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We paper trained our Aussie Terrier when he was about 14. Arthritis made the stairs to the backyard too difficult for him.

Since we got Normie Poodle last December when the stairs were sometimes too icy for two aged humans, we paper trained him too.

He prefers to dash down the stairs to do his business, but we're assuming that if he ever finds the stairs too much, he'll be easier to paper train.

Since poodles are groomed so often, that helps keep them comfortable with being handled. That's a bonus.
 

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Everybody knows how to ramps and stairs to furniture, everybody knows verbal and hand cues
 

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Such good advice and probably not something most people think about when confronted with the task of raising a roly poly little pup

I don't know if this was preparing Peggy for senior life or just trying to avoid past mistakes, but she is not allowed to jump out of the car. As a senior, Gracie seriously injured her shoulder jumping out of a truck. I guess, in her excitement, she didn't realize it was higher than the cars she was used to.

Peggy is expected to wait for a lift down.

I also think crate training puppies is a gift for senior dogs. It makes surgical visits less stressful, and is also very helpful if your dog ever experiences dementia. The world can become very big and scary to a dog in cognitive decline. After not using it for years, Gracie's crate eventually became her safe place again.
 

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Accepting a muzzle is something everyone should do. This way a vet will be able to put a muzzle on (or better yet have a dog arrive muzzled) if it is injured. I do allow my dogs to jump in and out of my vehicle, but I keep it very controlled. The dog has to target to my hand so they sort of step down to the door frame and then to the pavement. All of our dogs are big so it is okay, but if I had small dogs I would lift them in and out.
 

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My goodness...I should be thinking of this! 😱 I‘m so focused on training now that I’m not quite thinking that far in the future, but I should be. When I think about it though, I guess there we are doing some things that will prepare for the future. Our basement is unfinished and we don’t let Bobby go down there as we don’t spend much time down there so there is no need for him to be down there. It’s not dog proof so it does make things much easier. We never let our Great Dane down there and the reason was because our previous dog ended up with very bad hips and seizures and we would have to carry him up stairs and as a 40 pound dog at dead weight even that was hard as our stairway is very narrow. So when we got our Dane we swore we would never let him down stairs and never regretted that! Decided the same for Bobby. He has no problem going up and down other stairs as we knew we had to train that so no issues elsewhere so far. I suppose if he had to go up several flights it could be a problem. Anyway....not saying anyone should be doing that but for our situation and because we are older it makes things easier and will in the future.

The one thing I do think will be helpful is he uses a ramp to get on the grooming table. I think that will be super helpful when he gets older. It’s a heavy duty portable ramp which can be used anywhere a ramp is needed. He’s been crate trained as well although we did stop using that.

We do let Bobby jump from our vehicle but it is quite low to the ground so it’s not a very high jump. We will have to look at that when we get a new vehicle or we could use a ramp too. Bobby knows a lot of hand signals so that should be helpful. I guess we are preparing more than I realize! The muzzle training I’ve never done. Will have to look into that. That definitely sounds like it’s important to do as you never know when it would be needed.
 

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My goodness...I should be thinking of this! 😱 I‘m so focused on training now that I’m not quite thinking that far in the future, but I should be. When I think about it though, I guess there we are doing some things that will prepare for the future. Our basement is unfinished and we don’t let Bobby go down there as we don’t spend much time down there so there is no need for him to be down there. It’s not dog proof so it does make things much easier. We never let our Great Dane down there and the reason was because our previous dog ended up with very bad hips and seizures and we would have to carry him up stairs and as a 40 pound dog at dead weight even that was hard as our stairway is very narrow. So when we got our Dane we swore we would never let him down stairs and never regretted that! Decided the same for Bobby. He has no problem going up and down other stairs as we knew we had to train that so no issues elsewhere so far. I suppose if he had to go up several flights it could be a problem. Anyway....not saying anyone should be doing that but for our situation and because we are older it makes things easier and will in the future.

The one thing I do think will be helpful is he uses a ramp to get on the grooming table. I think that will be super helpful when he gets older. It’s a heavy duty portable ramp which can be used anywhere a ramp is needed. He’s been crate trained as well although we did stop using that.

We do let Bobby jump from our vehicle but it is quite low to the ground so it’s not a very high jump. We will have to look at that when we get a new vehicle or we could use a ramp too. Bobby knows a lot of hand signals so that should be helpful. I guess we are preparing more than I realize! The muzzle training I’ve never done. Will have to look into that. That definitely sounds like it’s important to do as you never know when it would be needed.
Same for us. I should teach her at least a few if not all of these suggestions.
 

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Recent memory of the trials of trying to get an arthritic St. Bernard into a car tends to make one inclined to prethink these things. I often wished we had worked on car entries when she was younger!

Pick up the front feet, put them on the tailgate, turn to the rear end. Front feet are down already. Grr. Try again. Eventually managed, already frustrated, now to lift half of a 185 lb dead weight dog who is not exactly bright and doesn't understand what's going on and tries to pull backwards while you are lifting. For a long time, my dad travelled around with a square straw bale for the dog to use as a step stool which worked relatively well.
 

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This is all great advice, and very dear to my heart!

I thought of another one, due to volunteering my non-poodle as a guinea pig one day (and being less than impressed with his behavior): being restrained on their side or back. For most diagnostic imaging performed by vets (radiographs, ultrasound), the dog has to be restrained laying either on its side or its back. If a full abdominal ultrasound is being performed, this can take up to 40 minutes, which is a long time to ask a dog to stay still! Sedation is always an option (one that I don't like to use unless I have to), but I know of well-trained dogs who are able to lie still with almost no physical restraint - just a light hand on their shoulders. This is also useful for puppies, who can find and eat literally anything they are not supposed to and may need a quick x-ray to see that rubber duckie in their stomach. Much easier to do if they're not turning into a landshark. 😂
 

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I can’t think of anything that my dogs should know later that they don’t already know. There probably is, but it’s not that obvious to me.

When my Chihuahua started being senile, she really picked up fast that she needed to wait for me to carry her up and down the stairs. Right now, both my dogs will not climb on a sofa if I ask them not to. They both look for approval before doing so.

Oh, there’s one thing ! I have a plan to take care of it. Beckie refuses to take the stairs to go up and down the sofa. I want her to stop jumping up and down while she is still young. I bought another set of different steps but never received them. I still have to find what I want.
 

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Wait! is probably my most used cue - it means I can ask them to wait to be lifted down from the car, carried upstairs, etc, etc. One thing I discovered when Sophy's back was really bad that might be worth working on with small/medium dogs was that it hurt her far less to be carried on a padded board than in my arms - a three sided shallow box was safest, that she could step into herself.
 
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