If you’ve ever heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, you may be put off training older dogs. You needn’t be because while it may tougher than training a puppy, the older dog is just as capable of learning new commands as any other dog.Much like humans, dogs are more receptive to learning at an early age. But like us, they learn throughout their lives.
In fact, in some ways, it may be easier to train an older dog. For starters, they’re calmer and have a longer attention span. And they’re also experienced enough to know when you’re serious. So they’re less likely to goof around while you’re trying to teach them something. Having said that, an older dog is more likely to be set in his ways, and it is harder to change established habits.
Tips for Training Older Dogs
Across this site, the often repeated mantra is to begin training early. However, there may be situations where you need to train an older dog, perhaps if you adopt an adult dog from a shelter, or bring home a stray.In these situations, you may have to put your patience to the test and have a go at training your older dog.At the very least you’ll want to do house training, basic obedience training, and possibly also crate training, so let’s deal with those areas.
House Training Older Dogs – Even if your new dog has had house training before, being in a strange location, with new people, and a change of diet, may trigger bad behaviors.
If that is the case you will want to house train the dog. Unless, the dog is already crate trained, or you have the time to keep the dog under constant surveillance, I’d recommend the paper method for an adult dog.In most instances, house training will be faster than with a puppy because an adult dog will have developed better bladder control and a calmer temperament.
Crate Training Older Dogs – An older dogs, especially one that has developed negative perceptions of being cooped up in a small space may be more difficult to crate train than a puppy.
The trick is to let them create train themselves. Place the crate in a quiet place, within a larger closed off area – like a room with a dog gate.Make sure that the crate is the right size and make it cozy, with comfortable blankets, and perhaps a favorite toy. Now leave the door open and allow the dog to discover it for himself.
He’ll soon realize that it is a comfortable ‘den’ and in most cases will go there out of choice.
Obedience Training Older Dogs – Obedience training an older dog may be easy or it may be an incredibly trying experience. Much will depend on whether the dog has had any previous training, its breed, and general temperament.
If the dog proves a difficult pupil you may want to consider a few training sessions with a professional trainer.If you are going to do the training yourself, I strongly recommend a reward based system of training. Negative methods simply don’t work, and with an adult dog, whose history and temperament you don’t know, it may actually be dangerous.
Start by teaching “sit”, the most basic obedience command, and move on from there.Training older dogs may seem difficult, but in reality, it is not much harder than training a puppy. A lot depends on the attitude with which you approach the task. Expect difficulty and you’re likely to find it.
Remember that older dogs are generally more attentively, and calmer than puppies. With patience and persistence training older dogs can actually be a pleasure.