You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Can you think of any phrase in the English Language that had done more harm to humanity than good than “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” In truth, an older dog might be easier to teach than a young puppy, because any dog that is five years older already knows the meaning of the word, “no.” An older dog has already learned what acceptable behavior to display if it wants to be around other people, like members of its family. An older dog is generally more laid back and relaxed then its younger version, so he is able to focus better on what he is being taught.

The older dog knows the concept of alpha dog and dominance, and so is not trying to be the big dog on campus, strutting his stuff and trying to be the boss. An older dog has gotten past all that adolescent drive and is ready to settle down in its role as a member of the pack. This means your older dog is ready and willing to do whatever part it needs to take on in order to fit like an old familiar glove into the fabric of the family.

Many people have differing opinions when it comes to training your dog. Some believe verbal praise and other non-food rewards work best when training your older dog. Others are of the belief that using more food-based rewards finds itself to more positive reinforcement than non-food reward systems, which tend to have elements of punishing built in to it. Then there is the system of using a choke collar. This can lead to your dog strangling himself on it, so be aware of this if you choose to go that route in training your older dog. Ask yourself if a choke collar is really a necessity. Experts are of the opinion that choke collars are not necessary and should be eliminated if at all possible. In other words, choke collars are not needed when training your older dog.

When training your older dog gentler is better. Use positive reinforcement, be fair, understanding, and especially consistent when rewarding and training your older dog.

Keep this in mind. Just like children, every dog is an individual. Some are more desirous to please you than others. Some will react more acutely to your tone of voice, and others might be better receptive and focused on the cue words you use to teach them.

In the same token, dog owners like yourself are individuals, too. You need to become aware of your preferences and how you tend to react and do or say things while you are training your older dog. It is up to you and your older dog to determine what way of training suits you both the best way.