There’s an old saying you’ve probably heard that goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Unfortunately, too many pet parents take this proverb literally and give up on teaching their senior dog new tricks without even taking a crack at it.
The truth is, training your older dog is a great way to bond with them in their golden years and keep their mind active. Plus, dogs with a few more years behind them are often better students, as they’re less hyper and better able to maintain focus.
To ensure the training experience is fun and successful for both of you, use these tips below to get started!
1) Keep your dog’s limitations in mind.
As a dog ages, they often face physical and mental challenges they didn’t have in their youth. They may respond and move slower, fail to fully see or hear cues, be unable to complete certain movements, and forget things more easily. It’s important, therefore, that you don’t try to teach your dog anything outside of their capabilities. You will need to be patient, compassionate, and likely practice more often before getting a trick down. As long as you understand and respect their needs, training can be fun for both of you.
2) Make training sessions short and focused.
A normal part of aging for anyone, including your dog, is getting tired more easily. That’s why it’s best to keep training sessions short and sweet, so your older dog doesn’t get bored or tire out. An older dog is also likely to have a diminished mental capacity and may be easily distracted. When you begin your training, do it in a quiet space that is free of distractions. Once they’ve better grasped the command in that environment, you can add in distractions slowly until they’ve mastered the trick in any circumstance.
3) Always use positive reinforcement.
Find out what motivates your older dog (something you probably know by now if you’ve had them since puppyhood) and use it to teach them. Maybe they love treats, bones, a certain toy, or just your love and praise. Whatever it is, use it to reward them when they complete a new trick. This kind of positive reinforcement keeps your dog focused, training fun, and strengthens your bond.
If your senior dog already has a long list of tricks on their resume, they may prefer to live out their golden years in a low-stress environment. At Silver Streak Kennels, we offer older dogs the perfect place to retire when you’re no longer able to give them the care they need or deserve. With 150 open acres to roam, care from dedicated professionals, and plenty of other dogs to play with, you can rest assured that your dog be happy on our idyllic country farm. Plus, you can always visit or take them home again.
Contact us today to learn more about our long-term dog boarding facility!