Despite what you may have heard, you can teach an old dogs new tricks!
Although there is the chance that bad habits might develop and be harder to break as a pooch grows older, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily more challenging to train than a young puppy. In fact, those extra years may even mean they are easier to train: they are likely to be calmer and have more self-control.
Not only is training an older dog paws-ible, it’s also great for their wellbeing. Time spent learning new tricks will keep your hound mentally stimulated, helping them stay happy, healthy and alert. Plus, it can be a lot of fun for the two of you!
Of course, no two dogs are the same, and if you have adopted a rescue dog, they may have had experiences in their past that mean training’s not so straightforward. For owners looking for ways to continue training with a dog who’s been in their fur family for a while though, there are plenty of exercises to try with them.
So, for our final blog post this How to Train Your Dog Month, here are just a handful of training tips and tricks to try with your older dog and help them lead a long, happy life.
Before you get started
Just as you would when training a puppy, be prepared with treats to reward your hound for good behaviour. Pick their favourite ones for the most effective incentive!
You’ll also need to be willing to dedicate time and patience, as well as being aware of your dog’s limits. For instance, do they struggle with mobility or has their vision grown worse in their older years? Things like this might mean certain tricks just aren’t for them or may quickly tire them out.
Did you skip some basic training with Fido when he was a pup? If so, it’s never too late for some basic obedience training.
The same techniques apply no matter what your dog’s age. The only difference is it may take a bit more repetition of each exercise, to properly unlearn bad habits and learn the right behaviour.
Luckily, your hound should have a longer attention span than their puppy counterparts, so you should be able to spend a bit more time practicing before they get bored or distracted. 10 minute bursts of training are usually a good amount of time.
Play hide and seek
While not strictly training, a game of hide and seek with treats or toys is a great way of getting your dog to practice using their senses - especially important for older dogs, whose smell, sight and hearing may not be as sharp as it used to be.
Simply show them a handful of treats or a couple of their favourite toys, then get them to sit and stay while you go and hide the goodies around the room or house. Then tell them to go and sniff them out!
Just like humans, a dog’s balance can deteriorate as they age, but there are lots of training exercises you can practice to counter this.
Try lying a ladder down flat on the ground and having your pooch walk through each rung. A treat or two may be needed to keep their pace slow enough to be able to get the foot placement right.
Have you made sure training with your dog is ongoing as they’ve gotten older? What are your favourite tricks or exercises to practice with them? Share them with us in a message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!