There’s an adage that we’ve all heard which goes, ‘You cannot teach an old dog new tricks’. Do you always need to start with a puppy if you want to have any hope of your furry friend acting civil in company? When is it too late to train a dog? You’ll be happy to know that the adage, while popular, is simply not true. Your ‘untrainable’ older dog can certainly learn plenty, you just need to go about it a little differently than you would with a younger dog. In this article we will discuss the subject in a little more detail so that you have a better idea what you can do to teach your older dog all of the tricks you like!
How to train an ‘untrainable’ dog
First let’s address this ‘untrainable’ notion about your dog. It is never, ever too late to train your dog. Is it easier if you start with a puppy? Well, sure. Much the same as it is for you to learn martial arts or another skill if you start as a child. This doesn’t mean that you can’t train your dog, simply that they have already developed habits over time just like we do. Think of your morning routine, for instance. Maybe you get up, go to the bathroom after you have started the coffee maker, take a quick shower, and then get dressed before coffee and breakfast. Changing your morning routine of many years might be a bit jarring for you and your doggy is no exception.
So it is not too late to train my dog?
Certainly not. Stop wondering ‘how old is ‘too late’ to train my dog’. Your dog doesn’t have an expiration date! You are just going to have to apply your training methods with a little patience in mind. Your dog loves you, loves learning, and loves playtime. Combining all of these things will bring about the results that you are looking for. Let’s discuss a few methods that you can employ to ‘teach and old dog some new tricks’.
‘Dog training montage’ time!
Now, now, not so fast. Get that 80’s ‘montage’ theme where you and doggie are lifting weights and preparing win the Olympics out of your head for a moment. This is going to take a little patience on the part of both you and your doggie. That said, the results might well astound you when your training is done RIGHT. In order to get your older doggy up to speed we need to divide the needed training up into types. Your doggy will want the following types of training:
- Obedience training – This is what most people think of when it comes to ‘teaching your dog tricks’. Sitting, staying, and the like are what you think that everyone will notice. There are quite a few other aspects of doggy’s behavior to consider, however, while you are working on the ‘basic tricks’. Practice these 3-5 times daily in 5 to 10 minute sessions (longer sessions may frustrate your dog) and you should start getting good results over time.
- Social skills – Maybe your older dog doesn’t like men or for some reason loses their mind if they see one particular type of dog. This training may be the hardest, as a lot of their socialization is developed at a very young age. Try taking them out to parks and encouraging them with lots of treats to keep them calm and playful. Reinforce good behaviors and gently discourage the bad.
” Use the crate for 10 minute time-outs if you need to discipline your doggy.”
- Good manners – This can be tricky but you can wean your dog of undesirable behaviors with a little patience and a lot of love. You can’t just say ‘no’ most of the time, unfortunately. You CAN encourage behavior by rewarding your puppy with games or treats when they do something that you like and whenever your doggy does something that you don’t like then you must teach them something new to do instead. For instance, if your dog is begging at the table, try teaching them to sit instead. This can be done by showing a treat and issuing the ‘sit’ command if they have already learned it and by rewarding them if they sit for short, then longer times, until eventually they learn to wait until you have finished eating.
- Potty training! – This is the big one. Nothing can be more frustrating to both you and your doggy then fighting over where it is okay for them to ‘do their business’. The difficulty is that dogs have a different type of memory when it comes to association so if you don’t catch them in the act then they have no idea why you are so angry. You can try many things, such as a strict schedule where you take your dog out at the same times each day and award treats when they go to the bathroom outside. If doggy peeing in the house when you are asleep, then you can try ‘crate training’. The potty-training portion of this involves placing the doggy in a crate overnight and taking them out of it to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning. This teaches your doggy that they will always go out at that time of the morning and that you wish them to wait. You can also use the crate for 10 minute time-outs if you need to discipline your doggy for doing something bad, so crate training comes highly recommended.
Some final words
In this article we have gone over some of the basic types of training that your doggy may require and offered some suggestions to help you to get this started. Be sure to take advantage of this by trying them on your own and consider researching the different types once you’ve used our listings to determine what training your doggy needs most. You CAN indeed teach an old dog new tricks, just give them time. We wish you and your doggy the best!