Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Top 5 Summer Activities for Senior Dogs

by Kris Phillips

You’ve been through a lot of life together, but you’ve started to notice your BFF (Best Furry Friend) is slowing down. The dog who used to drag you everywhere you went is now struggling to keep pace. But the blue sky and warm sunshine are calling to you. Keeping an old dog active is so good for them, mind and body. But you’ve got to find activities that are within their limits.

Here’s a few of my favorites.


Swimming is a wonderful activity for older dogs. The cool water provides much needed relief for aching joints. And it’s a wonderful low-impact exercise. There are lots of wonderful places around Denver to let your dog swim. Cherry Creek dog park even has a creek running through it with swimming holes. Many public pools and water parks host doggy days toward the end of summer. And of course several of our state parks have lakes with swimming areas. Just keep safety in mind and consider a life vest. Also, be sure to abide by any “no swimming” signs. Sometimes those are there because the water isn’t safe.

Stand-Up Paddleboard

Or SUP as it generally abbreviated is one of my absolute FAVORITE summer activities! I think it reminds me of my Southern California childhood, where we spent every weekend on the beach. And my favorite part about it is that Swota enjoys it as much as I do.

When we head to the lake she can just float along and take in all the sights and smells with minimal effort. 

An occasional dunk cools her off, and swimming is a great way to keep old joints moving. Swota’s a strong swimmer but I also tether her to the board, so that if she does fall off she wont try to swim to shore before I can pull her back on. She’s something of an expert when it comes to the paddleboard, hoping on effortlessly without rocking the board. But she wasn’t always. One of our first couple times out, I was paddling along, way out in the lake, and Swota saw some geese. She must have thought they were close enough to chase because she took a flying leap off the board, upending it. I never saw the water coming. As I came back out of the water and looked at her, I’m not sure who was more surprised by how deep or how chilly the water was. I do recommend a harness or lifevest if your dog is going to paddleboard with you. You’ll need the grip to pull them back on the board if they go off in deep water.


Every summer Robbie and I take a long weekend to celebrate his birthday with a camping trip. Four days away from technology & the buzz of the city. Time to just look up at the stars, cook smores and hang out with the dogs. It’s absolute heaven. And the dogs love it too! So many new sights and smells to take in. Plus they get to help with dish duty.

Dogs live their whole lives in the human world. Spending a few days in the wild feels like taking a trip back through history to when humans & canines first started to hang out.

Last year there was a burn ban in effect so we had to sacrifice our camp fire for a camp stove. Safety First!



Summer Festivals

Denver’s full of fun summer festivals. And many of them welcome dogs to the party. Summer festivals can be great for older dogs because they get a lot of mental stimulation in a somewhat compact space. Just make sure the festival is on grass instead of asphalt. There’s way too many to list them all here. But I’ll share a couple of my favorites. 

South Platte RiverFest has become Citizens on the River: June 22nd at Confluence Park. This is a really fun dog friendly festival, with lots of food, fun water activities, and live music. You can even try out kayaks and paddleboards, though your dog will have to wait with a friend.

Lakewood Cider Fest: Every year cider fest falls right around my birthday, at the beginning of October. Coincidence? There all all sorts of old-timie activities to check out. From tractor pulls to ax-throwing competitions. All the usual fair food and craft fair. But the reason we go is for the hard cider tasting. One admission gets you 4 hours of unlimited hard cider (in 2 oz increments) from some of the best cideries in the state, and beyond.

Brewery Tour

There are an abundance of dog friendly breweries around Denver. Just last weekend we took Swota to visit Living the Dream in Littleton. We enjoyed some churros from the food truck parked out front, and some quality craft beer. Swota made friends with a couple of dogs her age, and then parked herself under the table. You can even support Dumb Friends League with a Dog Friendly Brewery season pass.

Check out breweries like:

Living the Dream, Blue Tile Brewing, Joyride, Bruz Beers, Welcome Home, Someplace Else, Odyssey Brewworks, and Mockery Brewing, just to name a few.

Wherever you venture with your senior buddy, remember to bring lots of water, take it slow when you need to, and there’s no shame in getting a stroller or a wagon if that’s what it takes to take in the sights and smells of the world.

Happy adventuring!

Client Sessions

Dog Info - Helpful tips & tricks