We just recently celebrated Ty’s eleventh birthday, so calling him out as a “senior” is provoking a twinge of guilt … but it’s time to talk about the things we’re doing to accommodate his changing needs.

Traveling with a senior dog sometimes means making adjustments to your outdoor activities.Exercise Considerations

One of our favorite things to do with the dogs is hiking – and don’t get me wrong, Ty still has plenty of spunk! Whether we’re hitting the trails in a national forest, or taking an urban hike through one of our favorite cities, he’s always ready to go. But we’ve noticed that if our route includes hills, Ty has a hard time making it up without stopping to rest. Last week, we ended a hike with a pretty steep climb, and Rod took mercy on the little guy and carried him the rest of the way to the car.

The weather is also affecting Ty more than it has in the past. High temperatures and humidity sap his energy more quickly, so, in addition to searching out flat courses, we’re spending more time consulting the forecast when planning our outdoor activities.

Finally, we know that keeping Ty active will keep him spry – and he still enjoys getting out – but we’re shortening the distances we cover, and giving him plenty of time to recover between adventures. In the past, we might have done several 3- to 5-mile hikes a week. Now, we’re cutting that back to one longer hike (2-4 miles) and a couple of shorter ones (1-2 miles).

Outdoor Alternatives

Just because we aren’t doing as much hiking, doesn’t mean we’re not spending time outdoors! Buster still needs to get out, and Ty considers it absolutely unacceptable to be left behind – so we’ve been looking for things we can do that allow Ty to get some rest, and still stimulate Buster’s non-stop brain.

Going for a drive has become a popular option, because Ty generally curls up in his bed and sleeps, while Buster keeps a watchful eye on everything and everyone we pass … but last week we hit on what may be a new favorite pastime!

We were taking a drive through Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson, Wyoming and came upon a beautiful little lake.

Lower Slide Lake - Jackson, WY

It was a perfect fall day and, as we surveyed Mother Nature’s spectacular show, we noticed a campground right on the lakeshore!

Lower Slide Lake - Jackson, WY

We zipped over and discovered it was Atherton Creek – a campground run by the National Forest Service on Lower Slide Lake – and a campsite for the day was only $12. We agreed it was was money well spent, as we backed into our lake view site!

Traveling with a senior dog sometimes means making adjustments to your outdoor activities.

It may be slightly unusual to rent a campsite you only plan to use for an afternoon, but it worked out perfectly for us. We strung up the dogs’ zip line, hung our hammocks, unpacked the picnic goodies, and proceeded to kick back and enjoy the afternoon. We had our own picnic table and fire pit, and there were restrooms, a water spigot, and trash receptacles nearby. There were even some trails where we could take Buster for a stroll, and plenty of privacy and peace and quiet for us all to catch a nap.

Traveling with a senior dog sometimes means making adjustments to your outdoor activities.

This is a scene I hope to be recreating in the very near future! Have you found other activities to do with your senior dogs? Share your tips below in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!

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  • Love you posts. We are planing a trip to Jackson and then Yellowstone. We may just stray in Jackson so we can enjoy our to kids Rosie and Bruno. Both our dogs have health issue and leaving them behind is not a option for us. If our dog can not do anything in Yellowstone I can not see any reason to go. But it sounds like Jackson will give us the outdoors and our sweet kids can enjoy it as well.

  • Hi Genn! Thanks so much for your note – I’m so happy to know that the post helped you through a tough time. I’m really sorry that your pup is dealing with these health issues, and wish you all the best in helping her ease into a new phase in life. It’s definitely a learning experience figuring out how to best care for our furry family members as they age, and your dog is lucky to have such a fantastic person standing by her side. All the best to you both!

  • Thanks for this post. My super active 7 year old lab mix was just diagnosed with Degenerative bone issues. She was a 10-mile a day speed demon with an unlimited energy source. This sudden change is really hard on both of us, as well as her fur brothers. I’m hoping with lots of glucosamine and some accommodations, she can continue to enjoy life, even if it is significantly different from what it always was. This post appeared at the perfect time and gave me hope!

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Senior Dogs