Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

We’ve all heard the saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but here at Tug-E-Nuff we’re experts in dog training and we’re here to tell you that it’s simply not true.

Older dogs CAN be trained. Not only that but they often enjoy training and can be easier to train than a brand new and very excitable puppy.

Many of our customers have adopted an older dog and seen them make remarkable progress once they are given the chance to learn and develop.

However, it’s fair to say that you might need to take a slightly different approach if you’re training an older dog. So here are our top training tips for helping older dogs reach their training potential…

  1. Manage your expectations

Don’t expect an elderly dog to be able to leap and run around in the same way a six-month-old puppy would. It’s important to assess your dog’s physical ability and design training sessions to fit in with this.

  1. Establish a trusting relationship

Older dogs respond much better to training if they already have a trusting, established relationship with their trainer. So if you’ve just adopted an older dog, it’s a good idea to work on building a bond before expecting to be able to train them or teach commands.

  1. Have clear goals

This is an important tip to bear in mind whether you’re teaching an old dog or a new puppy, but older dogs can respond particularly well to structure and by having clear goals in mind it can help you both to focus.

  1. Be patient

It can take time to iron out bad habits your older dog might have picked up over the years so it’s important to be realistic in terms of time scales and to have plenty of patience. Expecting too much, too soon, will only result in both you and your dog becoming frustrated.

  1. Use a favourite toy

At Tug-E-Nuff, we know how much difference the right toys can make to your dog’s training. If you’ve never used a training toy before, we highly recommend our sheepskin dog toys. Cleverly designed and handmade using real sheepskin, they can excite your older dog and tap into their instinctive urge to play. And as we all know, the most effective way to learn is through play. Whether it’s our Sheepskin Bungee Chaser with Tennis Ball or our Sheepskin Bungee Ring, we’re sure one of our sheepskin dog toys can be the perfect tool to help you teach your old dog new tricks.

We’d love to know what you think, or even better hear your training success stories. Post your comments below 🙂

Comments (2)

Beth Burton - Jan 18, 2017

In 2000 I adopted a 5 to 6 year old Border Collie. She didn’t know how to play with toys so I bought her a big dagger & got down on the floor with her. After about ten minutes of ragging it around on the floor & whizzing it with in 2 foot of her face she was chasing it round the room. Suddenly she grabbed it & game of tug ensued. I also taught her to fetch a tennis ball by just rolling it a little way & rewarding her just for bringing it back one step but once she worked out that it would be rolled/thrown again & again she was off fetching like crazy. She also loved squeaky toys which helped me to teach her agility & helped with her other training as well.

nikki dominguez - Jan 18, 2017

I have an 8 year old collie called Anni, she used to be my dad’s farm dog, working sheep and also keeping the mouse and rat population down in the barns.when she was 6 my dad was made redundant and went to work on a pig farm (no job for Anni) so she went to work, hung about eating pig food and getting fat! I asked my dad if she could join me and my 3 year old cross breed and try a little agility and fly ball…..he said I could have a go but she won’t do it and won’t cope with the other dogs and people! So I had a 6 year old , unsocialised collie, I was excited.I started off just taking her places to meet people and dogs for 3 months, she had never even worn a collar and lead or a harness before. She took it in her stride and her confidence gee with people and dogs and it was finally time for her first agility lesson :-) She spent the first 3 weeks mostly rolling over onto her back or just laying down, she was fairly confused by it. But she had a lovely trainer called Lynne who was ever so patient and encouraging with her! She soon started picking it up and started absolutely loving it. Meanwhile she also started fly ball. She had a little more confidence here because she LOVES tennis balls :-) About a year and a half ago I found out anni was actually deaf in one ear, she had no directional hearing (which explained a few things when it came to why she seemed to shhot off in the wrong direction when I called her) This of course,didn’t stop her at all…..even when over the next year she lost the hearing in her other ear too. She’s almost completely deaf now but she’s coped with that amazingly too!Two and a half years later she is happily competing in both sports after a complete change of life and has her fair share of rosettes and placings. She is truley amazing and special, she has the most gentle and loving nature and a perfect example of how you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks!

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