Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Yes, you can, but it depends on the dog! Poor health and age limitations can be challenging for both his physical and mental condition. The best thing to do before starting with this new challenge is a quick check at the vet. Once you’ve done that and your buddy is fit for training sessions, you can start. And here are 10 tips and tricks on how to do it!
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It’s never too late
Examples show that it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. A recipe that has been proven to be successful is a mix of people, patience and reward training, also called positive reinforcement. This method uses dog treats as a means to steer the dog’s behavior and motivate him to learn new things. As a dog lover, take time for this training and most importantly, show a lot of patience to your old dog buddy. He might not be in his best shape, but he is definitely one of your best companions, so treat him with lots of care and patience. Don’t forget that an older dog has the capacity to focus longer. Therefore, teaching them new tricks might be, in some cases, even easier than with puppies.
Forget the old, learn the new
If you are a dog owner and wish to teach an old dog new tricks, start step-by-step. Practice shows that both human and dogs require more time to unlearn already existing skills (good or bad), than they do for learning new ones. As such, take the training history of your four-legged friend into account. If you’ve adopted an old dog, try to learn more about their previous parents and how they were treated. If you can’t find any previous information on your adopted old dog, give them some basic commands like sit or stay. Should your dog not show any reaction to this, start from scratch with the basics.
In addition, unlearning dog bad habits, such as chewing furniture or destructive digging can be also a challenge for newly adopted dogs. But don’t worry, there’s a solution for that! Make sure to keep your furry buddy well exercised and busy with the right chew toys. Always remember that there is nothing that patience and love won’t achieve. The best thing to do is to know your dog well, create a trusting bond and only afterward start teaching them new funny tricks.
Pay attention to these signs of exhaustion
The age and health condition of your four-legged friend should be seriously considered before deciding on the teaching sessions. Remember that your dog buddy is not a puppy anymore, so consequently, don’t treat her like one. Your dog will get easily tired, so be aware of signs of exhaustion. These can include:
- Sniffing the ground
- Dropped ears
- Excessive Licking
- Yawning a lot
Can you teach an old dog new tricks: these 10 tips make it possible
It is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Go through this checklist to make sure you start off on the right foot:
- Build trust and a strong friendship with your dog
- Take time to really know your furry friend well
- Recognize and respect your dog’s’ limits
- Keep training sessions short
- Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement
- Use qualitative dog treats and also compliment your dog a lot, to guide and motivate him towards a certain behavior. After a while, you can use fewer treats and focus more on praising him.
- Start with a single trick at a time; dogs can get confused by too many different commands
- Associate new places, people, toys with learning a new trick. Then once his usual environment changes, he will be more receptive to learning new things.
- Remember that dog training is a commitment you make, so offer time and be consistent.
- Teaching an old dog new tricks is possible, but won’t happen overnight. Research says it takes up to 4 weeks for an old dog to learn new things, so patience cannot be over stressed.
Should I teach my old dog new tricks?
Most noteworthy, teaching an old dog new tricks might not be the best option for spending time with your old, fragile dog. Consider his needs as priority and know that, what dogs at a certain age need is love and care. Most importantly, don’t push your dog into doing certain tricks just for the sake of entertaining you or your friends. This training activity should be fun also for him and be an opportunity to bond. If your dog is fit enough for various physical activities, this bonding experience of teaching him new tricks will be worth it. Remember: first, know your dog, then check his age and health limitations and most importantly, love him despite all that!