That old saying that about older dogs being unable to learn new things is false. So the answer to “can you teach an old dog new tricks” is yes, you can. And not only that, you should do it for the well-being of your dog — here’s how to teach an old dog new tricks.
For starters, give your older dog the chance to learn something new. It might take more instruction, but it is possible. Dogs like learning and so, you should make the commitment to give your senior dog an opportunity to learn every chance you have.
Feeding the mind of a senior dog will help her age better and more gracefully. Sure, senior dogs, like older people, aren’t as active as they were in their youth. But, like people shouldn’t lay down all day, senior dogs should be as physically active as they can.
And with learning new tricks, just as it stimulates dogs’ minds it makes their bodies more active. New tricks give your older dog quality of life.
Be sure to talk to your dog’s vet before starting out on this journey, as your dog’s health may limit tricks you want to teach her.
The best part of trick training a senior dog is that she gets all that mental and physical stimulation without stressing the body too much.
How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
So, start with SIMPLE, low impact tricks, which means avoid anything that involves your dog having to jump. Don’t forget that rewards are necessary and welcomed, just as when you’re training a puppy.
Start with refreshment courses, i.e., things she already knows but perhaps hasn’t done in a while — high five, shake, and other obedience skills. Remember to reward her with tasty treats and lots of praise.
Patience is a Virtue When Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Don’t go too fast when teaching your senior dog a new trick. Imagine trying to teach a grandparent how to use an iPad — it will take time and patience to remember all those steps.
- Start with short training sessions — about 5 minutes everyday.
- Make training fun
- Keep it slow
- Maintain a positive tone in your voice
- Never yell or punish her — only positive reinforcements
If you’ve tried and your dog hasn’t succeeded, perhaps she’s confused. Go back to the beginning of that trick stage and you’ll find out where she’s having trouble. Give her a treat to keep up her confidence.
Then, slow it down and repeat that tricky stage until she does succeed — and she will! And that’s the experts take on how to teach an old dog new tricks.