Whether you’ve adopted an older dog recently or you’re looking to give your longtime pal some new challenges, you might be considering teaching your furry friend some new tricks. But what about the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, the good news is that it’s just a myth! In fact, older dogs are often just as eager to learn as younger pups, so even though there might be some challenges along the way, you can certainly teach your older dog some new tricks. Keep reading for some training tips!
Dropping Old Habits
An older dog will have a lifetime of habits it has picked up, whether that’s been with you in your home or somewhere else. Luckily, any dog behavior can be changed with the right encouragement. If your new rescue dog has a bad habit of chewing on things it shouldn’t, for example, it might be suffering from anxiety or boredom. Giving him plenty to do and lots of attention will go a long way in helping an older dog drop bad habits.
Because an older dog already has some set habits, it might take a bit longer for him to grasp the concept of a new trick. Don’t worry – just be patient. Don’t expect him to learn it in one day. As with a puppy, it will take time for your older dog to learn any kind of trick.
As you teach the new trick, make sure that you reinforce the behavior often. You’ll have to practice regularly with your older dog to make sure he doesn’t forget the new trick, so take a bit of time each day to work on it. Consistent reinforcement and high-value rewards will help your furry friend make the connection between the command, the action, and the reward.
Try Low-Energy Tricks
Training a puppy might seem easier because they’re so full of energy, but older dogs are just as willing to appease you – even if they’re a bit slower at it. Instead of focusing on high-energy tricks like fetching or jumping through hoops, try less active tricks like high-five/shake, kiss, speak, retrieve a small item, spin, and more.
Use Simple Commands
Make sure that the commands you choose are easily understood by your dog. If he’s losing his hearing, you can also use a hand signal so he can still learn the command. If his sight is going, you’ll have to stand directly in front of him or closer to him than you’re used to.
Contact Canine College for Training Sessions
Training an old dog – or a new puppy – can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. For help, contact the expert dog trainers of Holbrook, MA at Canine College and get the best assistance and advice for correcting behavioral issues and general training. We offer group training classes or private one-on-one sessions to help focus on specific behaviors with your dog. Contact us today to get started!