Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?
In honor of National Train Your Dog Month, we wanted to tackle the question we hear often, “can you teach an old dog new tricks”?
We all train new canine additions to our homes; potty training, the household rules, leash walking, and usually a trick or two. But why would we start a training program for our older dog that already knows the rules of the road?
Dogs of all ages are perfectly capable of learning! Your dog will be healthier and happier if they stay physically and mentally active, and learning new behaviors will do precisely that. Don’t let them retire; keep them engaged in life by giving them new things to do. It will also strengthen your bond with them, which should make everyone happy.
There are four requirements for training at any stage of life.
- High valued items such as your dogs favorite toy or treat
Keep in mind as we age, our mental processes slow down a bit (for dogs, cats, and people), so be patient with your dog. Often their hearing and vision aren’t as good as they used to be, so use verbal cues and hand signals when you teach a new behavior.
Do your dog training on softer surfaces (rugs or grass) and don’t train in hot weather or direct sunlight; older pups overheat more quickly.
Avoid too much repetition in training; that’s boring (even for puppies)! Change it up! Keep it short and positive. Use treats or their favorite toy as a reward for training sessions. But keep an eye on their treat intake. Adjust their meals accordingly; you don’t want them putting on extra weight.
Keep their physical condition in mind; don’t ask them to do things that may require too much exertion. Fido may have stiff joints or a bit of arthritis, so be realistic. If your dog looks physically or mentally tired, stop for the day – pick it up for a few minutes tomorrow! If your training is going to require more physical activity than your pet is used to, get an ok from your vet first.
You can and should teach an old dog new tricks! Teach your dog a paw-shake and we’ll shake on it next time we see your pooch!