Old dogs, new tricks

Time to read: 5 mins

As the old adage goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. We have all heard this, but it is not true. Old dogs can in fact learn new tricks, some even say it is actually easier teaching older dogs than it is younger ones.

Dogs are considered ‘old’ from 8 years and above, but no matter their age, dogs love learning as they are alert and very inquisitive.

Obedience class

Much like puppy training classes, obedience classes are a great opportunity to allow your dog to learn basic commands and skills that allow them to socialise with other dogs and people they are not familiar with. These basic skills will make them much easier to control and are therefore safer for themselves as well as others around them. The classes take place over many weeks. This one on one time will help to form an even stronger bond between you and your dog.

Advantages of working with older dogs

With age comes more patience and self-control, meaning that you’ll have more time to show and teach an older dog compared to a more boisterous puppy that is easily distracted.

Some easy tricks to teach your dog are:

1. Paw

2. Lie Down

3. Walk Backwards

4. Talk

5. Roll Over

Things to be aware of when training an older dog

As dogs gets older, they are more susceptible to issues like elbow dysplasia and arthritis which could make doing tricks painful for the dog if it is for an extended period of time.

Training your dog might take a little bit longer than it would a puppy so you are going to need some patience and persistence to keep going. Some of them might have some bad habits they have picked up throughout the years that will need to be “unlearnt”. The one advantage of working with younger dogs is that they do not have any bad habits yet. The process of unlearning is the time-consuming part of training an old dog. Although it might take some time it is never too late to adjust your old dog’s behaviour.

You should try and continue your dog’s training throughout their lives. This keeps them mentally fit and makes them easier to train as they are constantly learning and eager to receive information. The more tricks they learn, the more accomplished they will feel. This incentivises them to keep learning, using treats will help too!

Some breeds may be easier to train than others with Labradors, Border Collies and German Shepherds in particular being considered as some of the easier dogs to teach. No matter the breed, every dog is able to learn new tricks.

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