The goal is to stretch the muscle slowly and gently through the natural range of motion! Proper stretching and other bodywork should never put your dog in pain; instead, it should calm and relax them. Watch your dog for any signs of discomfort, unease or resistance and adjust any stretches to your dog’s comfort level. Also, do stretches every day instead of one marathon session once a week! 

Stretches for Your Senior Dog

The Bicycle

Gently “bicycle” your dog’s hind legs through their full range of motion. This motion warms joint fluid and improves blood flow for comfortable joints and muscles.  

The Sit and Stand

Those with a senior dog often make the mistake to stop asking their dogs to sit. Sitting and standing are natural, simple exercises to encourage joint movement, blood flow and a better range of motion in hips and knees! 

The Shoulder Extension

Have your dog lie on his side. Place one hand over the point of his shoulder with gentle pressure. 
Place your other hand under his leg and gently lift parallel to the floor with the elbow straight. Gently move the leg toward the head until there is some resistance and hold for 20-30 seconds. 

Repeat with the other shoulder.

The Hip Flexion

Hip issues are a common problem for many highly active or large senior dogs. This gentle stretch is much like the shoulder extension but with the back legs. 

Have your dog lie on his side. Place your palm over the upper back leg bone supporting the joint. 
Place your other hand under the leg and gently lift it parallel to the floor. Slowly guide the leg – allowing the knee to bend – along the side of the body until there is some resistance and hold for 20-30 seconds. 

Repeat with the other back leg. 

The Play Bow

Every dog owner recognizes the “play bow” when our dogs are getting ready to play! But it’s also a great natural stretch, especially for the groin muscles. Why is this important? The groin area may be overworked if your dog has subtle knee injuries. Encourage this stretch after walks or vigorous activity! 

In addition, the Handicapped Pets website recommends The Back Stretch for senior dogs. The goal is to get your dog to turn around and look behind them toward their tail (creating a letter “c” shape) for 15-30 seconds on each side (two times each side). Stretching their spine helps reduce stiffness and maintain mobility! Use lots of praise and treats

Don’t Wait Until Your Dog’s Golden Years!

Prevention is always best when it comes to aging! Before arthritis and joint stiffness sets in, include stretches and massage in your daily routine to give your dog the best quality of life and graceful aging!

Credits: EastvalleyK9