Q: My dog Elle is a 9-year-old Lab mix. Elle does not fetch or play with us; she only sleeps. I don’t think she knows how to fetch. Is there a way we could teach her to fetch or is she to old? I’d like her to get more exercise so I want to train her to fetch or at least go after a ball or toy.
A: A 9-year-old dog would be about 63 in human years, so your Lab mix may not feel up to the vigorous exercise of running after toys and balls and fetching them back. Try taking her for walks instead. If she’s been inactive for a while, make the walks fairly short at first–about fifteen to twenty minutes on level ground. As she becomes more physically fit, you could gradually lengthen the walks and include some small hills. Before starting an exercise program with an older dog like this, be sure to have her health checked by your veterinarian.