Question 9 year old German Shepherd - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Question 9 year old German Shepherd

Hi all,
It is the first time I have a German Shepherd "Odin", and yesterday he just turned 9. He is male and has medium length fur. I have a few questions and would really appreciate some feedback. He is my first dog.

1. Exercise: Does this routine look ok for a 9 year old German Shepherd? Please note I live in a rather hot environment. Around 7 am a 45 min. walk and we always rotate places we walk in. Around noon a 15-20 min walk just for peeing and at that point it is usually rather warm so we try to walk in the shade as much as possible. Around 7pm another 15-20 min walk, around 10:30pm a 30 min walk as he loves walking at nights and the temperature drops. Once a week, we play fetch with frisbees, balls etc, problem is, he gets tired fast. He loves to play fetch but unless earlier, he obviously runs full turbo mode for 4-5 runs, then jogs, then just stays with the toys and lies down. Also daily he plays with dogs from neighbors for about 10-15 mins.
Exercise wise, does this seem ok? When home, all he does is sleep and after breakfast and dinner he is very energetic and barks around and we do intelligence games mainly, or I try to teach him something new, but in between the walks etc it is safe to say he just stays in his corners, in his crate, outside in the shade, and naps. He doesn't really search my wife and me anymore as before, he comes at time to be scratched on his chest, but I wonder if it is normal if with age they tend to be a bit more to themselves?
Also, I have a new car now, no more SUV but in Europe we use these cars known as Tourer/Kombi, that have about the same trunk size (the low long ones, no sedans). He still easily jumps in an out, is the jumping ok or shall I use a ramp now already? I already trained him to use it. I read a lot that dogs should not be jumping anyone when getting older, now a good time to stop? What about stairs and jumping on top of beds etc?

2. Nutrition: Problem... Odin, by nature, always was, very moody to eat. He since small, no matter what I do, he never eats without exercising first a bit and even then, he is very very picky. Even if I make a Porterhouse steak if I could early in the morning, he would not care for it unless I play the ball a bit in the garden. I always gave him this popular food over here which is like 1/3 moist, and 2/3 hard kibble known as ALpha Spirit Free Range Duck. I mix it with Hills i/d digestive care because my dog had always issues with stool as well, once I mixed the two, perfect results. Orijen etc just never did well for him, stool way too liquid. However, I am now trying Acana Adult but it seems to have rather lots of fats for my liking. The ingridients of Alpha Spirit you can find by googling the following: Alpha Spirit Free Range Duck Huella Canina (sorry, I have too few posts to be able to post links, system does not allow me).

And here is from the hills i/d sensitive care: Please google the ingridients in the Petco website, it is all there and the system does not allow me to post links yet due to not sufficient posts.

I also add a bit of wet food to get the flavor up and at times a slice or so of turkey/chicken just for him to really go at it.

But I am at a blank and worried tbh. Ideally, I just want to continue as it is, but it is NOT Senior food. I mixed in a bit of Acana Senior (1/3 Acana 1/3 Alpha Spirit 1/3 Hills Digestive Care) and it has fantastic results too, he likes the Acana Senior, but it appears to have higher levels of fat. Any suggestions and recommendations from your experience? I am very worried the bad stool comes back if I introduce him to a complete new food, with his difficulties already in wanting to eat.

These are about for now the only concerns that I have. I brush his teeth daily, his vision and hearing is perfect, he still loves visits but he appears to really just want to be left alone when home and the only times he really enjoys being highly indoor active is right after he ate and we do lots of exercises and intelligence games (without it being too much, not to harm him as it is not good to heavy exercise after eating), but that's the only time. He also spends much more time in his crate sleeping. Makes me a bit sad, as if I am at fault maybe to make things too boring for him.

I miss having him come check up on me in the middle of the night and be a bit next to my bed. I miss him begging me to jump onto the sofa to watch some netflix, or to sit next to my chair to be scratched a bit and then sleep next to me as I work (I work 70% from home unless I deal with clients). I do all possible, take him to the beach, to the mountains, each day I try to have him do a different routine than previous day on the morning walks.

Sorry for the huge long wall-of-text, I was just curious as I never had a dog before.

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 12:51 PM
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Sounds like you are doing a great job with Odin. He's very lucky to have such an attentive owner. At 9 years old it's common for dogs to slow down their activity levels. If you become well versed in "reading your dog" you'll know how hard to push the exercise. He'll let you know when he needs a ramp by watching his behaviors and if he favors a leg or hips while walking.

Dog's need downtime just like humans do, and the older they get the less activity they'll push you for. Give him what he "asks" for.

The diet and nutrition is a matter of what works for you and Odin. Shepherds can have sensitive digestive systems, so if you find a combination that works, stick with it. His activity levels and poop can reflect the amount of nutrition he is getting. Your Vet can help with fecal, blood and urine tests to help assess health.

Enjoy your boy as long as you can.

Craig
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDarcy View Post
Sounds like you are doing a great job with Odin. He's very lucky to have such an attentive owner. At 9 years old it's common for dogs to slow down their activity levels. If you become well versed in "reading your dog" you'll know how hard to push the exercise. He'll let you know when he needs a ramp by watching his behaviors and if he favors a leg or hips while walking.

Dog's need downtime just like humans do, and the older they get the less activity they'll push you for. Give him what he "asks" for.

The diet and nutrition is a matter of what works for you and Odin. Shepherds can have sensitive digestive systems, so if you find a combination that works, stick with it. His activity levels and poop can reflect the amount of nutrition he is getting. Your Vet can help with fecal, blood and urine tests to help assess health.

Enjoy your boy as long as you can.

Craig
Hi Craig,
Thanks for your response! So you think the most important is for him to get along with the current diet if it is working perfect rather than switch for a complete new senior food ? For me this would be ideal, but in all the places I go visit to read on senior dogs the first thing all mention are : Careful about the diet, as dogs get older they need a different diet. So that worries me.
Ok, so it is normal for them to be more sleepy and lying around more? When I walk around the house he usually looks up at me while laying down, then stretches his legs, makes some funny noise, sighs, and sleeps again, until the next walk or food. He also greets me much less when I get home now, which is weird, up to like, hmmmm, some months ago he would always come, now he just continues to sleep or not even bother, hehe.

I was thinking of a companion for him.

I am a bit afraid at this point after he has reached this age, I think it will hit me hard when he passes, I woke up several times already to just check up on him downstairs heh.

Thx for the help !
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 05:45 PM
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How long have you had Odin? If you've gotten him as an adult more recently his independence you are seeing may be him becoming more comfortable that this is home and he is passed any uncertainties that a transition he may have had.

It sounds to me like you have a pretty good handle on addressing his needs both exercise and dietary. Every dog is different and needs will vary. My two 9 year old females are polar opposites when it comes to activity. My larger girl is content with light exercise and is a shade seeker on hotter days, she self limits. My smaller girl will push herself beyond a level I feel comfortable with and for her I set limits, heat does not bother her much.

Regarding vehicles I have a 3/4ton pickup that sits fairly high and again my approach is different. I assist my larger girl in/out as she had fractured 2 of her toes when younger jumping from our deck and has some arthritis as a result, that and her size concerns me. My smaller girl jumps in and out on her own (on grass). She goes with me regularly on hikes or logging and often jumps over fallen trees and other obstacles on her own accord, lifting her in/out is kind of pointless.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 11:31 PM
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I think you're doing great. My humble opinion...maybe he's getting a little too much exercise for his age. Maybe you can cut out his "noon" walk and do a quick pee, not a 15 - 20 minute walk. I don't know.

Also, I don't know how big your dog is but are you able to carry him up and down the stairs? I used to carry my dog (98 lbs) up and down the stairs in his later years after he broke one of his femurs and he couldn't walk the stairs nor get into the vehicle. Our guess was he must've broken his leg by jumping, either by playing fetch, or jumping on and off my bed, or jumping out of the car... Just be careful when you do those things with your dog.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,
Thanks again for the replies!
I wish I could keep the noon walk shorter, the issue is, he is not one of the dogs that pees a lot on a tree so we can get the business done with 2-3 trees, hehe. He loves to go smell around, take all the time in the world to finally pee.

I have had Odin since he was 4 months old, basically 9 years. He was completely crazy until around age 7, from age 7 to 8 he became a bit more relaxed, but he seems now to have taken a rather big step towards relaxation because at home, all he does is sleep basically.

Odin is 85 lbs, I can't carry him the stairs, because I am renting this place and the stairs are a bit on the high and narrow side, I carried him before to test, but I feel extremely uncomfortable and they are steep too, I am afraid we both can fall. As for the car, I have a bad lower back, really bad, I can lift him alright but if I have to, would prefer to use a ramp.

So the jumping on an off the bed as I note needs to stop. I have a very high bed, like those Marriott beds but even higher (Kingcoil), his pre-sleep routine was usually to jump on to get his teethbrushed one day and teeth-cleaning treat on the other (rotating), I guess I will have to start doing this downstairs.

Is walking stairs bad for the dog in terms of provoking health issues to happen faster ? I have zero clue if walking stairs could be an origin for a future leg or back problem for instance.

Once again, thank you all for the help so far !!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 11:44 PM
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Hi! My husky-shepherd mix is getting older too...I think he is about 8. Anyway he also sleeps more than he used to. I joke about his daily schedule, which involves his morning nap, his afternoon nap, his evening nap, and then night sleep. :-) Also I think that some of the time he is not really sleeping, he is just resting...that is, he is aware and listening/looking but not asleep. You may find that your dog is actually not deeply asleep but it just laying there and enjoying watching you do things? Also my dog has figured out a certain corner of the house where he can watch the kitchen, front hall and living room, all without getting up. It's his favorite place to lie!

Anyway our dog was getting stiff and we started him on joint supplements (glucosomine/chrondroitin) and we cut out impact movements like running on roads/sidewalks and jumping out of the car onto hard surfaces. I notice also that he only goes up/down stairs if necessary (if I stay up there for longer than 10 minutes, he'll come up. But if he thinks I just ran up the stairs to get something or put away laundry, he won't bother to go up.)

My way to tell if a walk was too hard or long, is if he comes home, lies down and falls asleep very fast. Or, if he lies down first without going to get a drink from his water bowl. Then I know that we overdid it. :-{ If he comes home, gets a big drink, and lies down but is awake for awhile, it seems that the walk was just right. Right now, in the hot summer, we do a long walk in the morning and a long walk in the evening (each walk is usually 45-60 minutes). In the afternoon, we do a little play/ training and he can potty in the yard.

On diet, I don't know? My dog lives for his meals and I have to watch his weight. I was thinking about switching him to senior dog kibble which has less calories. For now, I measure his food with a cup (I know how much he can eat to not gain or lose weight).

Yea, it's sad to see the change in their activity level. :-(
I guess I kind of "follow my dog" and try to see what he is comfortable with. If he wants to sleep 16 hours a day, that's Ok with me. If he wants to turn back early and just have a 30-minute walk one day, that's OK with me too. (He always gets us home right before the rain starts falling, it's pretty amazing!)

Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 11:57 PM
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My 9yr old does just fine with stairs. She hasn’t shown any behaviors or tells to let me know the stairs are too much for her. She still loves her walks, but what once was an hour or so of varying speeds, she just walks slowly but happily beside me, and taps out after 20-30 minutes now. She’s happiest just laying on her bed next to my bed. We don’t allow dogs in our bed, just a personal preference. But if yours is allowed, you can either make, or purchase a bed ramp. I built a ramp for my girl to get in and out of my truck when I started seeing her struggle a little. She can still get in and out of my car with no problems.

Members here suggested injections for another member with a senior dog, it starts with an A. I brought it up to my vet, and we started her on the injections. I can see her perking up, but she also recently had a surgery for a vaginal prolapse, so it could be that, or the combo of the injections and surgery.

I pretty much let her tell me how the day is going. She’s old, she doesn’t need to be running a track, or tracking, or herding if she doesn’t want to. I think she’s earned that right. She still loves to do it, but can’t always get the energy up to do it, and that is perfectly okay with me. I spoil my seniors, I think they’ve deserved it!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 12:56 AM
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Two more things. As far as feeding, I was also overly concerned as she started putting on weight while slowing down on activity. Carrying extra weight for a senior isn’t great for them. The senior dog formulas have fewer calories, so it’s basically a diet food. If Odin is doing well on the food you currently feed, and isn’t gaining weight, keep him on it! We tried changing Lyka’s diet to a senior diet food, the results were horrible. She had constant loose stools, she would barely pick through it, and her energy levels went down even further. So she is back on her regular food, just smaller portions. Still enough to keep her healthy nutrition wise, but not enough to create weight gain.

2. You mentioned getting her a companion. This could do wonderful things for some seniors. Give them a new lease on life and more bounce in their step. For others, the new addition is just an annoyance for seniors, and they can become grouchy, and eventually aggressive to the pup if they continue to pester him. Do you have puppy classes anywhere near you? They may allow you to bring Odin into the end of class to see how he does, or at the very least, through a fence to see if he seems excited by the puppy’s, or if he doesn’t give a hoot and would be grumpy with one living with him.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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thank you so much for all the replies !!!

I was thinking as for the companion, to bring in a dog from the shelter that has been abandoned, a female. I am sure he would love it, I am more afraid of him getting on the other dog's nerves than the other way around. I will think of this.

But great tips ! As for dog on the bed, I would also prefer not but it is our first dog and I used to be an airline pilot and gone from home often so my wife let him up but he hates the bed, he just comes for his teethbrushing and good night snack, and leaves after 10 minutes to go into his crate.

Amazing tips on the food. I will continue doing what I am doing and watch his weight, I will also start do blood analyses each 6 months and talk to the vet about vitamins. I will also find means to reduce the jumping. What really enrages me is when my dog jumps out of the car, the way he does it, I mean, the car is low, instead of just gently jumping down, he jumps like a dolphin into the air and then lands, instead of just walk and soft-jump down.... it really drives me nuts, I have to roll my eyes a lot. I'm teaching him with treats to not do that and with treats he does it perfectly but I don't have them always. Oh, also, from the bed, my God....just go down smooth, he like jumps up even further before going down. No space for a ramp, but I'll put some base there in between. I just have horrified fears that he could once accidentally not hit a stair-step correctly and fall down. So far not even once this issue.

Thanks for writing about your experiences with your dogs, as you write it, like the rests, and everything really, it helps me make sense much more ! Thanks !!!
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