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Old Dog, New Tricks! Brain Games through Enrichment and Training

Dogs of all ages need mental stimulation to feel their best, and senior dogs are no exception. Age-appropriate activities such as puzzle toys, scent games, and teaching gentle tricks can keep your grey-muzzled friend happy, healthy, and thriving in their golden years. In this webinar, Sydney Queen, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, discusses enrichment and training modifications and alternatives for senior dogs.

Dog wit Leash

Why do Brain Games?

There are many benefits to doing brain games with your senior dog. These games build strength, mobility, and coordination, all of which are important to help your dog thrive physically as they age. Mental stimulation is important to keep your dog’s brain sharp. Playing games is not only fun for you and your dog, but also helps build your relationship.

Getting Started

When introducing new games and training exercises to your senior dog, it is important to pay attention to how they react. This will give you clues about any modifications needed to make the games more enjoyable for your dog. It is particularly important to notice your dog’s body language. Are they hesitant (e.g., moving more slowly) or overly excited? Do they seem to lose interest in the training sessions (either during the session or over time)? How do they act after a training session? By taking note of how your dog reacts to each session, you can modify accordingly (e.g., make sessions shorter, repeat an easier step a few times to build confidence).

Dog Running Through Tunnel

Having Fun with Your Senior Dog!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why Sydney uses videos to demonstrate the training exercises and enrichment activities that include both store-bought items and do-it-yourself ideas. Learn how to modify the activities to meet your dog’s individual needs (e.g., add traction by using yoga mats, adjust the height at which you offer treats) and how to vary the activities to keep your senior dog engaged. Opportunities to use their nose are great for senior dogs who may have limited mobility, so Sydney highlights a range of fun options, including sniffy walks (also known as a “sniffari”), nosework and a cup game.

What Viewers are Saying

  • “I was thrilled to get new ideas and have already started using them. As always, thank you!”
  • “The concepts were explained well and the videos were really helpful for understanding how the forms of enrichment should be introduced and then progressed.”
  • “Lots of common-sense suggestions using everyday items that can be found around the house.”
Sydney Bartson Queen

About the Presenter

Sydney Queen began her career in animal welfare at a local shelter in 2014 in Adoptions, Operations and Behavior, later joining the ASPCA's Behavioral Sciences Team in 2019. She has her master's in International Animal Welfare, Ethics, and Law as well as her Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) certification. Through her work in shelters, she quickly became fascinated with animal behavior and finding effective ways to maintain and/or improve an animal's mental well-being through behavior modification and enrichment in the often-stressful shelter environment. She is also passionate about integrative care and working with dogs who have medical challenges or special needs, ensuring the dog's medical and behavioral needs are met and promoting overall well-being.

Sydney enjoys helping pet guardians of both dogs and horses outside of the shelter through her behavior consulting and training business, Sympatico Animal Behavior, LLC. Much of her work involves providing behavior modification, enrichment, and creative problem-solving for dogs of all backgrounds and ages. Sydney strengthens the human-animal bond by helping pet guardians to develop a more thorough understanding of their animal's behavior and providing them with practical solutions to modify problem behaviors and meet their pet's ever-changing needs.


Here’s a link to a video of the cup game.