How Can Dogs Affect the Lives of Senior Citizens?

dogs seniors

Getting old is never a pretty sight. But it can become much more manageable if you have a companion by your side. Pets are good for both the body and the soul, as some would say. Senior citizens can greatly benefit from having a pet, particularly a dog by their side. But are elderly people really capable of taking care of a dog? The question may seem controversial but there are many studies that confirm the fact that taking care of a dot improves the lives of senior citizens by a lot. Owning a dog in your late years will greatly improve the way of living.

In today’s world, many senior citizens have to deal with assisted living. It is something that has become normal and a standard for many families. But it doesn’t have to be as lonely as you may think it is. Introducing a dog would greatly improve the way an elderly person behaves. Many people are actually wondering what the benefits of an elderly person owning a dog are in the first place. The answer is a lot more difficult than you may think.

First of all, the dog provides much needed exercises for an elderly person. They already do not move so much and they need exercise. Sometimes they are not willing to do it on their own or feel too tired to have a short walk. But if your loveable companion starts tugging on your leg and starts begging for a walk, you will probably get up and do it. Secondly, they help with the mental side of things. Old age is not pretty and in most cases it gets to be really lonely. Most people only have the opportunity to talk with their peers, while younger people tend to avoid them. So a pet is the perfect companion that will be there for you no matter what. They are not concerned with age or your energy levels, the most important thing for them is that you are there to provide comfort in return. Finally, they are there to make you happy. If you are a dog lover then you know how happy you must feel every time your pet rolls out the welcome mat for you when you come home. There is no difference as your pet will do that for an elderly person every day. That way they get to feel special and wanted and at the same time they have somebody to care for and they do not feel left out in any way.

But at the same time, you also have to know about some tips when owning a dog in assisted living. You can’t just really get any ol’ type of a dog, there are some things that you have to consider. One of them is the age of the dog. Most people advise that you get a senior dog for a senior person. One of the advantage here is that they probably possess a certain amount of training which will come very much useful. Also, they do not have high energy levels as younger dogs do so they will work perfect for an elderly person. Another thing is the dog’s temperament. Different dogs have different temperaments and you have to tailor your dog based on your needs. If your tempers coincide it will allow you to have more fun with the dog as the more similar both of your characteristics are the more fun you are going to have. Next come the physical limitations of the elderly person. A senior citizens are not as young as they used to be. In some cases they have specific needs or conditions that limit their movement or behavior. You have to get a dog which would adapt to those needs and will not obstruct or further limit the elderly person. You should also consider the resources available to you. An elderly person cannot really take care of a big dog that has great needs. This is due to the limited resources this person has. So always try to adapt the available resources to the person so you do not put added strain on them. Also, there are community requirements to think of. If the elderly person is living in home for the elderly or any kind of an assistant living area, there are requirements and conditions to think of that the dog has to adapt to. Try looking into all the rules and the requirements needed or the policy of having a pet that the home proposes. This should be done first so you know what you have to do before actually getting a dog. Finally, one of the most important factors to look into is breed. Different breeds have different characteristics and you should pick one so it adapts to the person. Smaller breeds are probably much more suitable but there elderly people who prefer bigger ones because of protection. Either way, this is a factor which probably requires the most amount of thinking.

Here are some possible dog breeds that can be suitable for elderly people.


Samoyed characteristics may be odd when it comes to elderly people. These dogs are energetic and diligent and often look for ways in exerting their energy. So you would think that they are completely unsuitable for an elderly person. Well the truth is much the opposite. These dogs can help elderly people get more exercise and get them moving a big. If you want your grandpa or grandma to get their exercise, a Samoyed is perhaps the perfect choice. Another great thing that comes with these dogs is their happy disposition. These dogs always look like they are smiling, so they will put a smile on your grandparent’s face. These dogs are pretty cheerful and will transfer their positive energy to their owners. They get along with anybody and are also good with other animals and people, so if a friend comes over with their pet you can have a good ol’ time together.


A Pug is probably the cutest dog that you can get for a senior citizen. These dogs are affectionate and playful so they are going to be close to their masters all the time. They are also very charming and adaptable and they do not mind being kept in an apartment or in a nursing home for elderly people. But they are playful and they like having fun with people as well as other smaller animals. They tend to be mischievous at times, but it will just give you something to do and provide more fun for you and the people around you. Their small size makes them perfect for elderly homes and they generally do not need a lot of maintenance.


A Schnauzer has a lot of advantages for a senior citizen. One of them is that it comes in many different sizes. You can find them in standard, miniature and even toy sizes, so you can choose one based on your needs and capabilities. Next is that these dogs are great guard dogs and that they can protect the property where they live without problems. But a Schnauzer is also a very playful dog. They enjoy the company of people and children especially. So this gives something for your grandchildren to do when they come and visit. Finally, a Schnauzer no matter on its size does not have a high energy level. They are perfect for elderly people who cannot take their dogs for a walk.

Cocker Spaniel

A Cocker Spaniel is a medium sized dog, but they are highly affectionate and obedient. These type of dogs are great pets and can serve elderly people quite well. They have an even temperament and can fit into a community very well. A Cocker Spaniel is also a very loyal dog and will form a connection with its masters and do anything for him or her. One thing that a Cocker Spaniel has that might not suit elderly people is its higher level of energy. These dogs require being walked from time to time. But this also gives an opportunity for an elderly person to get some much needed exercise.


A Chihuahua is probably the smallest dog on the list. This makes it a perfect pet for a small apartment of for assisted living circumstances. They are quite easy to maintain and do not require so much grooming. What they do have are a tendency to bark as they have higher level of energy. But since they are so small, they can get quite enough exercise by staying in an apartment. If you don’t mind the barking so much, a Chihuahua is a great dog for any elderly person. One of their advantages is also that they are good with strangers and especially get along with children.

Boston Terrier

A Boston Terrier makes this list because of its tendency to be close to their owners as most as possible. The best thing for them is to be curled up with their owners on a sofa or bed watching TV. This makes a perfect setting for any senior person. Their attachment to the owner and low grooming needs is what makes the dog a perfect pet. Their size is also not great so they are perfect for being kept in an apartment and they can be really friendly with strangers. You do not have to groom a Boston Terrier so much and it is a dog that does not require a lot but can give back quite a lot.

Shih Tzu

A Shih Tzu is friendly, energetic, playful and alert. They are really nice dogs for allowing you to spend your time with ease. They are small, so they are suitable for an apartment and are specifically bred to be apartment dogs. The only thing that they do require is some play time, which you can do indoors, and some regular walks outside. But there are two things that are not really suitable for an elderly person and that is their coats and the noise that they make. A Shih Tzu might require more maintenance than other dogs which can be hard on an elderly person. Also, if you do not mind the noise as a Shih Tzu has a tendency to bark, it can be a good dog for you.


A Beagle is one of the cutest dogs that you will find on any dogs list. This makes theme perfect for senior citizens and absolutely great companion dogs. Thy get along with all humans and even other animals. Some would say that they are better suited as family dogs but they are probably the best when they are cared for one individual. This individual can be your grandfather or grandmother. They may be a little independent and hard to train, but once you do so they can be the best animal for you.


A Poodle has so much advantages and can be a great dog for any person not just an elderly one. They are very smart dogs, probably the smartest dog breed in the world. This makes them highly trainable and obedient. They enjoy the company of people and will care for their owners. There is also the fact that they are active and can serve as a brilliant way for your grandmother and grandfather to get some much needed exercise. A Poodle is also very much adaptable and can be easily taught to stay in one setting. They also come in different sizes and you can choose the one that fits your needs.

Yorkshire Terrier

A Yorkshire Terrier, or a Yorkie, is a small dog with long hair. If your grandmother likes taking care of her pet, than a Yorkie is a great choice. They do need regular grooming and can give you something to do. But a Yorkshire Terrier is much more than that. They can be playful but obedient. They serve best as companion animals and like hanging around with people. They also need some exercise, but a regular walk each day is quite enough.