The Best Dogs for Elderly Companionship
The best companion dogs to help care for the elderly
As you get older you can often start to feel lonelier in the home and start to go out less. Loneliness and isolation in the elderly can affect their mental and physical health and sometimes a pet can be a good idea to give companionship and a reason to get out and about. However, choosing an appropriate dog for seniors to care for needs a little more thought. Start by assessing the needs, wants and limitations of a prospective owner. After all, everyone has a unique set of preferences, so the kind of dog that makes the best pet will vary from one older adult to another.
Here are some factors to weigh when selecting a dog:
Energy level: Some breeds require more exercise than others. If you’re fairly active, you may be able to handle a dog that needs lots of playtime and opportunities to run. But if you have mobility or stamina issues, you might want to choose a dog that is content with a few short walks. Some very small dogs may even be able to get all the exercise they need just by running around inside your home.
Size: Smaller dogs are easier to keep under control and are more suitable for seniors living in flats or independent living schemes and homes Small dogs can fit in your lap, are more portable than larger breeds, won’t physically overwhelm you, and can be easily washed in a sink. However, some small dogs have lots of nervous energy and try to make up for their diminutive stature with plenty of barking.
Age: Older dogs are better dogs for seniors to adopt than puppies that are super active and tend to chew and nip. (Most dogs are considered to be “seniors” when they reach about age seven.) Adult dogs are typically already housetrained and well-socialized with people. Mature dogs also tend to be the calmest dogs, with more predictable behaviour patterns. In addition, it’s wise to think about the life expectancy of different dogs and how likely it is that your pet will outlive you. Who will take care of your dog if you aren’t around to do so?
Temperament: While any dog can be raised to be friendly, some breeds are more naturally conditioned to be gentle and welcoming. Retrievers, poodles, and bulldogs are among the dogs that have a good temperament. But keep in mind that every animal has a unique personality. Try to interact with any potential pet you are considering in order to get a feel for how well suited you are to each other.
Grooming requirements: Some breeds need to be bathed, trimmed, and clipped regularly, while others just need a quick brush every so often. Be sure to choose a dog whose needs you can manage, either by yourself or with the help of a family member or professional groomer.
These four breeds have certain combinations of traits that make them popular choices for older people looking for some companionship.
Thanks to their extraordinary intelligence and highly trainable nature, poodles are good companion dogs. They form a strong bond with more than one member of their human families and are one of the best dogs for couples. They are sweet, gentle, and loving animals. Poodles need a daily walk but are otherwise content to play or just lie on the couch. They don’t shed, but they do need to be groomed every month or so.
Weighing in at just four to seven pounds, the tiny Maltese is widely regarded as the quintessential lap dog. Bright, gentle, and playful, these dogs get along well with other pets and are extremely attentive to their owners’ moods. While they don’t need a lot of outdoor exercise, they do like going for short walks and dashing around the house. Their silky white coat doesn’t shed but does require daily brushing and weekly bathing.
The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel
These quiet, small dogs make some of the best lap dogs for seniors. They love nothing better than snuggling up with their owners, and they get along extremely well with adults, children, and other pets. Active and playful, they are also intelligent and easy to train. Their long, soft, beautiful coat requires regular grooming and an occasional bath. Keep in mind that this dog breed loves to chase things; you’ll need a long leash or a fenced yard.
The Boston Terrier
Boston terriers are adaptable, friendly, mild-tempered dogs whose favourite activity is sitting peacefully with their owners. They are easy to train and don’t bark much, which makes them well suited to apartment or shared-facility life. Their grooming needs are minimal, since their short, smooth coat (which resembles a black-and-white tuxedo) is easy to care for.