“You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.” That old saying; is it true?
The truth is, it is more complex to teach an older dog something new, but it is not impossible!
In fact, it can be very beneficial to keep your four legged friend’s mind sharp.
When it comes to learning a new trick, or altering a pattern or habit in your pets behavior, you are talking about not only learning something new, while simultaneously un-learning an older habit.
The idea behind retraining a dog is that rewards work, and patience works even harder.
Read more to find out our top tips for your older pups!
1. Learning new tricks is mentally stimulating and keeps older dogs sharp! As your furry friend ages, it is likely that they will get bored with the same routines. By including a new aspect of their life, they will have a renewed excitement and will use different parts of their brain and body to learn. A happy mind makes for a happy pup.
2. Rewards are your friend in retraining an older dog. In training an older dog, it is important to remember that their wants may change. They may become more food motivated, if they don’t have as much energy to chase a tennis ball and that’s okay! Check out healthy options for treats. Be sure to reward them plenty for their hard work. Older dogs tend to have to work harder to maneuver their bodies, be patient, gentle and let them take their time.
3. Try simple commands or refreshing their memory. When starting out consider what tricks or commands they already know. Go over the easy ones like having them come when you call their name, then work on having them respond to coming to you from the command “Come.” Then move on to sit, stay etc. Make sure you establish a reward system. Example: The dog sits when you say sit, they get a small healthy treat.
4. Once you have established a reward system, move on to more advanced tricks. Try tricks like “Spin” or “Paw” but take into account what your older dogs body allows for. You can try to retrain behaviors like where they are allowed on the furniture, where they sleep or how they react to guests at the door.
5. Retraining your dog’s temperament is another way to stimulate them and prevent injury. While teaching them a new way to behave, you are improving their overall behavior.
Example: Try establishing a sense of calm by having them heel when guests arrive and ignoring bad behaviors like aggressive barking. Wait until they calm down and then move forward with your commands of choice and a reward.
They will be better equipped to handle car rides, visiting guests and vet trips. As your dog ages, you will find that helping them maintain a sense of calm will also make them less prone to injuring theirselves or worsening existing health conditions.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful.
Thanks for reading, check out our other blog posts for more pet tips and tricks.
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