How to keep your elderly parents safe and in their home longer | Roger Wong | TEDxStanleyPark
How to Keep Elderly Family Safe Around Active Dogs
Having an active dog around an elderly family member can be dangerous for that person. The energy and enthusiasm the dog has can easily knock over or injure a person that does not have quick reflexes or a lot of strength and stability.In order to avoid this, you should prepare your dog before the encounter, protect the elderly person while he or she is around the dog, and help the elderly person interact safely with the dog if they want to. With some preparation and some international control over the interaction, your elderly family member can be kept safe and sound around your dog.
Making Sure Your Dog Can Handle the Encounter
Tire the dog out.Take your dog for a long walk or let it run around at a dog park before being around elderly people. You can also play fetch or another game where the dog runs around a lot to tire it out. Most of the danger of having an active dog around elderly people is that the dog might knock them down or injure them just out of excitement. In order to curb this risk, you should make sure to really tire the dog out before the meeting.
- If the dog is tired out, it is less likely to be really wild and uncontrollable. However, there are some dogs that will be really active when meeting new people or old friends no matter how much exercise you give them. Make this judgement for yourself based on your particular dog.
Do extensive training.In order to keep an elderly person really safe around an active dog, you need to control that dog's behavior. Extensive training that the dog consistently responds to is the best way to control its behavior. Training requires daily practice with your dog, clear and consistent directions, and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to follow your commands.
- With a well-trained dog, you can allow the dog to be around an elderly person unrestrained because you know that it will stop dangerous behavior immediately if commanded.
- Training that is very successful will allow you to control your dog's behavior no matter what it is doing with a simple command.
- This type of training takes a long time to complete. Don't expect to get total control over your dog's actions in a week or two. It takes lots and lots of repetition and positive reinforcement to instill in your dog.
Allow the dog to smell the person ahead of time.If you are planning on introducing your dog to a family member then you can let the dog smell his or her smells ahead of time. Getting a piece of clothing or a sheet or blanket that the person uses and letting your dog smell it ahead of time will let the dog get the excitement of new smells over with.
- If the dog has already smelled someone, then doing this before he or she comes over will not generally diffuse the dog's excitement. This tactic is usually just helpful for first time encounters.
- This technique is used often when introducing dogs to new babies, but can work with other types of situations as well.
Protecting Elderly People From Active Dogs
Keep them separated.The easiest way to keep elderly people safe around active dogs is to keep them separated. This may mean putting the dog in its crate, out in the yard, or in a separate room that is closed off while an elderly person is visiting.
- Placing an active dog in an isolated location may require that you train it not to bark or cry as well. In some cases an active dog that is isolated from the group my be very upset about that isolation.
Place barriers to restrict your dog's movement.If you cannot put the dog in a totally separate room, you can at least force it to keep physical distance from the elderly person. Place baby gates or obstacles in the way that keep the dog in a separate space from the elderly person.
- This solution works best for dogs that cannot jump and that will not use their brute strength to knock down an obstacle.
- Also, using a baby gate does not keep your dog from barking or whining incessantly. In order to stop this, you will need to train it not to.
Keep the dog on leash.If the dog needs to be in the same room as the elderly person, then you will need to keep a firm hold on it. This is most easily done by keeping a leash on it and holding that leash tightly.
- If you have a harness on the dog this can also be used to hold onto the dog and make sure it does not knock over or otherwise injure the elderly person you are around.
Interacting Safely With an Active Dog
Make gradual introductions.It is important that you don't just let the dog go and let it jump all over a new person, even if the dog can't actually knock that person over or injure it. Instead, make the introduction gradually so that the dog is never allowed to act inappropriately towards the elderly person.
- This is where a leash comes in handy, because you can let the dog sniff the new person and the new person can pet the dog but the dog can be stopped from jumping or generally getting too active during the introduction.
- This gradual introduction may be most effective in a neutral location, such as outside at a park. This reduces the chance that the dog will be protective over its space and act badly.
Set firm boundaries with the dog.There are some things a dog should never do to an elderly person and the dog needs to know that. For example, a dog should never jump up on an elderly person, as this could cause them to fall over. Your dog needs to know that it is never to jump up and that that kind of behavior has negative consequences every time.
- If you are trying to stop a dog from jumping up on your elderly family member, then you should also stop it from jumping up on anyone else. Consistency is key to training dogs to eliminate negative behaviors.
Promote calmness.Encouraging excitement when the dog is interacting with an elderly person will only create more of a problem. Instead of asking your dog "Are you excited the Grandma is here?" and riling it up, you should act like nothing out of the ordinary is happening when your grandma comes to visit.
- In many cases, your dog will look to you to gauge what its reaction to a new person should be. If you are calm and happy to see one, the dog may give that reaction too. If you scream and shout in excitement that someone has arrived, your dog will probably mimic your reaction as well.
- Talk to the dog in a calm and quiet manner. This will promote calmness.
Teach the elderly person dog commands.If your dog is active but responds really well to commands, then you should teach those commands to the elderly person the dog is interacting with. This will help to assure that the elderly person is safe by allowing them to have some control over the situation.
- Commands that might be of particular help are sit, stay, and lay down.
- It's also good to teach the elderly person how to tell the dog to go to its bed. If the dog has been trained to follow that command, it will then know that it needs to leave this person alone and go calm down in its bed.
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