Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

According to the old saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But we’re here to shout it from the rooftops that that is NONSENSE!

Dog training isn’t just for puppies. Yes, it can be easier with younger dogs. Yes, it can be quicker, too.

But if you have an older dog, or a dog that struggles with mobility, that’s no reason to shy away from training. You just need a few tactics up your sleeve – and we’re here to help. 

 

Whether you’re looking to train for sport or simply a better behaved dog, here are our tips for making training an older dog easier, more fun and more successful…

  • Fit their training to their personality

Think about what motivates your dog the most (Food? Fur? Squeaky things? Tennis balls?) and use a dog training toy that incorporates that (luckily, we have a whole range to choose from).  

  • Know their limits

It goes without saying that older dogs generally have less physical stamina than puppies – but on the plus side, they may be able to focus on things for longer without getting distracted.

To keep training fun and avoid injury, know your dog’s limits and take your time with learning new behaviours. Keep training sessions short with plenty of time for rest built in.

  • Be patient

Always remain patient and calm and, if your dog is really struggling with something, walk away and try something different. Never force a dog (old or otherwise) to do something they aren’t comfortable with.

  • Be positive

Older or rescue dogs might have had the misfortune of being subject to training by ineffective and unkind punishment-based methods before they came to you. This is an extra reason to approach all training with positive reinforcement. In its simplest terms, this means rewarding and encouraging good behaviour (instead of punishing the bad). Edible treats are great rewards, along with a play with a favourite training toy

  • Get involved

As with all dog training, it’s most effective when it’s fun – and the best way to make it so is by getting involved. With an irresistible tug toy from our range, you can motivate and teach new skills through interactive play sessions that double up as quality time to boost your bond.

 

  • Mix things up

To keep your dog interested in training, it’s important they don’t get bored. A variety of training toys can really help with this, but it’s good to also have a few different games up your sleeve. Try one of the Four Games You And Your Dog Can Play With A Tuggy we talk about in this Training Spotlight piece from the archive.

With a positive mind set, the right training toys, a lot of patience and a lot of rewards, older dogs can achieve amazing things – and there’s no reason your dog can’t be one of them.

It’s important to note that if your dog suffers with a condition or disability, we always recommend discussing your training plans with your vet before you begin.

We’d love to hear about how you get on so please share your experiences in the comments or join us on our Facebook page.
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