The title of this post includes one of those sayings that’s often thrown around.
Person 1: You should totally learn how to play guitar!
Person 2: Meh, I’m too old, can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
The origin of the saying doesn’t matter as it’s now a great excuse for people to be lazy when they’re referring to themselves. You can learn new things!
You just need the right motivation and the same goes with your dog. With the right motivation, assuming everything else is okay health wise, your old dog can certainly learn new tricks.
Benefits Of Learning New Tricks
If you’ve had your dog since they were a puppy, they probably listen to various commands already. Other dogs aren’t so lucky however and you may be the caring owner of a dog that hasn’t be trained.
The biggest benefit of training older dogs is the increased communication between dog and owner. This increases the bond between you and your dog. Trained or not, the more you can relate to one another, the healthier the relationship will be.
Strategy Is The Same, Just Might Need To Untrain The Dog
Training a puppy and an older dog is essentially the same. Utilize patience, consistency and rewards as the new skill develops.
The only issue with an older dog is they have already formed habits, likely undesirable. This means you may need to go through the process of unlearning a habit before starting to learn the new desired behavior.
A Consistent Routine While Learning The New Trick Helps
Try and integrate the learning of a new trick into your daily routines. If your dog understands he/she will get a treat for doing a certain command at roughly the same time each day, you know they’ll remember to do that.
The same goes with providing the rewards. When the trick is performed consistently, a treat needs to be offered every time.
You Can’t Learn Every New Trick
Puppies are crazy, as they’re growing their sense of danger is minimal. This continues on for a few years but eventually your dog is going to slow down due to old age. Just like you aren’t able to do some things you could do as a youngster, your dog isn’t going to physically be able to do everything.
Teaching your old dog to catch a Frisbee is not a wise idea. Stick to commands and tricks that are easy on the body.
There May Be Other Reasons
If you have chosen a trick you feel your dog should be physically capable of, but doesn’t appear to be capable of picking it up, there may be misdiagnosed health issues.
Looking For A Professional Dog Trainer?
If you don’t seem to have the skill of helping your old dog learn a new trick, you can always use professional dog trainers in private or group classes. Private classes are usually better for older dogs as group classes tend to be full of younger dogs which isn’t always a nice environment for you older dog to be in.
Yes you can definitely help your old dog learn tricks! It’s all about making sure you keep expectations realistic about what can be learned with the right motivation and the best environment conducive to learning.