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Preparing Your Home for a New Senior Dog

While any month is a good one to give a home to an older dog in need, November is ASPCA’s Adopt a Senior Dog Month, making it even better time to open your heart to a senior. Senior dogs are great for so many reasons, it’s hard to list them all!

Here are few reasons adopting a senior dog may be right for you:

  • Don’t have time to train a puppy, since most of them come with basic manners
  • Do not have the energy for a young, active dog
  • Want to a certain personality type (likes kids, cats, etc.)
  • Want to help an old dog enjoy the rest of his life

If any of these are you, than there is a special senior citizen just waiting for you take them home! But, before you do, you need to prepare.

Like bringing home a puppy, senior dogs have special needs that you should prepare for prior to adoption.


Rugs with no-slip mats are a great way to help an older dog get around your house. Image source:
Rugs with no-slip mats are a great way to help an older dog get around your house. Image source:

Most senior dogs have some type of mobility issue. If you have hard floors anywhere in your house, they may have trouble getting around. This means you are going to have to do something to help them out and you have several options.

  • You can put booties on your dog that have traction on the bottom. Make sure they are made for traction and have rubberized feet, otherwise they make it harder for the dog to walk. (Pawz is a good brand).
  • You can put rugs down. Just be sure to secure the rugs with a no-slip pad underneath, like this one from Walmart.
  • Block off those areas. If the only places in your house that have hard floors are the bathrooms and the kitchen, you may be okay with just restricting your senior dog’s access to these areas. Remember, this is for their safety so they don’t fall and hurt themselves.
  • Lay carpet down. Of course, you can always install full carpet if you wish.


Stairs can pose a real risk to older dogs. They can fall trying to go up or down them. It is best to block them off with a baby gate or keep doors shut so they cannot go up and down them without your help.

If you need your dog to be able to go up and down stairs without you, you may think about installing a ramp. We made a ramp on our outside steps by simply nailing down a piece of plywood covered with a rubber mat (glued on). It was originally for a wheelchair, but it helps my aging dog as well.

High Places

Are you going to allow your dog on the bed, couch, or love seat? If so, you should have a way for them to comfortably get up. Pet stairs and ramps are a great way to allow your dog access to these areas safely.

Do not assume, however, that if you buy them and put them up, your dog will automatically use them. You may have to teach your dog to do so by luring them with a treat up and down the stairs or ramp. Also, be sure to buy ones that are the correct size for your dog. I have seen a lot of stairs that are made for small dogs only, and if a large dog tries to go down them, their backs end up at bad angles or they fall because they are too steep.

If you are adopting a large senior dog, you may want a car ramp as well, so you can get him into the car without having to try and physically lift him.

Lifestyle Products

Aside from the above listed safety items and the normal items you get for any dog you are adopting (food, kennel, etc), you also want to think about your dog’s day to day activities. Here are a few products that you may not need to buy if you’re adopting a younger dog, but that will be beneficial for your senior pet.

Raised feeders – these are much easier on your dog’s back (these are really good for any age dog, but especially a senior).

Heated bed – great for alleviating joint pain.

Diapers or potty pads – some senior dogs have trouble with bladder control. The rescue you are adopting your dog from should be able to tell you if you will need these.

Pet Piller/Pill pockets – almost all old dogs take some type of medication, these will make it easier to administer them.

Medical Alert TagPet Health Alert makes tags for dogs with special needs in case they get lost or hurt.

Above all, a senior dog needs your love and attention the most.


About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She is the founder of A Fairytail House, a unique all-positive all-sport dog training facility that helps rescue dogs in her area and provides free seminars and training classes for the community. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.


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Written by Kristina Lotz
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