Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

When it comes to teaching an older dog new tricks, often many individuals give up before even trying. They assume their furry four-legged companion is either too old or too weak to learn a new range of commands. Well, let us assure you: That’s the furthest thing from the truth.

hand in hand with a dog

An older dog not only maintains better focus than a puppy, says DogTime.com, but he or she is typically already trained in basic household commands. That makes an owner’s job significantly easier, because they are able to focus on the new tasks at hand. With a wide variety of tricks to teach, taking up a new task with your friend gives you a chance to bond and can even help keep your dog’s mind active in their adult years.

PetSafe recommends that you keep in mind your aging pup’s physical and mental limitations when selecting a new trick. Some dogs may not be as spry as they were in their youth, so strenuous tasks may not be a good choice. Just the same, older dogs may not be as capable of remembering involved tasks as quickly, so be prepared for a more extensive learning curve.

This is why it’s important to remember that acquiring new habits take time with any dog. Typically, you should expect to spend three to four weeks practicing each trick with your pup, says DogTime.com. Repetition and praise is key here: When dogs are consistently encouraged to try out a trick, reinforced with praise and/or treats, they’ll be more inclined to practice for you.

At the end of the day, training only enhances the mental and physical health of an older dog. So although it is common for canine cognitive problems and lethargy that tends to develop with age, keeping your older dog stimulated with novel tasks and tricks is one way to combat those issues. It’s also a great way to spend happy and productive time with your trusted companion during his or her later years. They may say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we say not only can you, but you should!