A: "There's very good evidence to indicate that walking keeps our gears moving, both our joints and our brains, and the same is true for dogs," says veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the behavior clinic at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Mass., and editor of "Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy and Comfortable" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2010; $26).
"Indeed, learning new things, and switching up the environment (rotating toys, etc.), along with regular leash walks, are the most powerful things you can do to prevent or delay cognitive decline," Dodman adds.
If you notice even slight signs of confusion or changes in your dog's sleep/wake cycle as she ages, see your veterinarian. Early diagnosis increases the odds of finding a way to deal with a cognitive issue if, in fact, that is the problem.