5 Tricks An Old Dog Can Teach You

Lovability as an evolutionary adaptation

Dogs manage to maintain their loveabilty, even as they age. Human beings respond to their cuteness by nurturing. We relate to pets much in the way we treat our own children.

We see the combination of cuteness and dependence, which triggers our impulse to protect and coddle. They don’t hide their vulnerability like we do.   This could be an evolutionary adaptation, to ensure someone will take care of them. Cranky old humans take heed.

[separator color=”#876992″ height=”1px” /]

3-D sense of smell

Have you watched how dogs smell? Every human has a unique scent, and that’s all a dog needs to differentiate us from one another. “To our dogs, we are our scent,” says canine cognition expert Alexandra Horowitz, author of the book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and KnowThey put their entire body and soul into it, like nothing else matters in the world but figuring out the source, their opinion of it and what to do as a result – pee on it, distance oneself, go for it or go on to the next.
My dog can barely see or hear, but she raises her nose when a new smell wafts into the room. Her favorite smell used to be in the crotch of women’s sexy underwear (she never went for the Hanes).  I don’t know how many pairs of Victoria’s Secret underwear she went through in her heyday.

It appears that it’s quite likely that dogs can smell fear, anxiety, even sadness. No wonder dogs seem to suffer greatly from divorce or empty nest. They also have been sad victims of the mobile phone obsession which has brought them very few conveniences but has shifted the attention of their owners tremendously.

[separator color=”#876992″ height=”1px” /]


Dogs naturally do yoga moves.  Their movements are not limited to puppy pose and downward dog. They know that stretching will help them navigate the world more easily, with a strong posture and gait. Their bodies, and ours, are designed to move. Increasingly as we age the ability to move depends on stretching.

Dogs do yoga instinctively (or attend Doga classes). If we followed their lead we’d be stretching first thing in the morning and several times throughout the day. We would also be complaining less about back pain.

[separator color=”#876992″ height=”1px” /]


Old dogs, much like infants, nap nearly all day. They can sleep 22 hours in a day. They tire more easily and nap to get strength they need to function for a few minutes here and there.  It comes down to listening to their bodies. Are you listening?

[separator color=”#876992″ height=”1px” /]

Being still 

Old dogs don’t have the distractions that interest younger dogs. The aren’t out looking for mates, chasing squirrels, catching frisbees. They don’t get excited about toys or treats. Honestly, being with an old dog can be tedious.
16-year-old Marley magically brings love into the world even without seeing, hearing, moving or making a sound.

Learning to be still with an aging dog is perhaps the greatest lesson of all. At their age, that’s all they really want. Marley just wants to hang with people that love her. She knows who they are. She’s right beside me now, nudging me to get off the computer. So I will end here and give her my full attention. She has taught me about stillness. A lot happens in stillness.  It’s the least we can do for a creature who is all about love and connection.

[slider border_color=”#876992″ border_width=”1px”][slide][/slide][slide][/slide][slide][/slide][slide][/slide][slide][/slide][/slider]


  1. Bailey on August 30, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Your wisest post yet!

    • Anne Koplin on August 31, 2017 at 1:19 am

      I knew you would love this one Bailey!

  2. Elana on September 1, 2017 at 6:14 am

    This gives a whole new meaning to “you old dog”. Loved it, thanks!

  3. James on September 2, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Someday I hope to have an old dog. I would learn so much!

    • Anne Koplin on October 5, 2017 at 2:47 am


  4. Jean Eder on September 16, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    What an amazing and insightful post. Marley is the very definition of “love”.

    • Anne Koplin on September 28, 2017 at 3:30 am

      And you, of all people, know it first hand!