Training a dog takes a lot of time and energy, but it’s well worth the effort to have a confident pup that obeys your command.
But what if you have an older pup or adopt a dog later in life that hasn’t had any training?
Is it worth it to do dog obedience training for an older dog? Here at Russel's K9 Academy in Daytona Beach, FL, we think there are some things you should know about training a senior dog.
While you may have heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” this is an outdated belief about dog training. Dogs of all ages, from puppies to seniors, can learn new ways to act and behave. That said, their age and breed may dictate different interactions and response times. So it’s important to remember the following when training a senior dog.
Some senior dogs learn at a slower rate
As our bodies and minds get older, we have a harder time remembering things. The same goes for dogs. While they can still learn new behaviors and patterns, it may take a little more time to retain the lessons. Be patient and kind, as this will make it more likely for a senior dog to respond to you positively.
Use positive reinforcement when possible
While some people punish their dogs for bad behavior, this rarely works in the long term. Dogs have a short memory span, and they likely won’t remember what happened hours ago. Instead of utilizing negative reinforcement against bad behavior, reward good behavior with positive reinforcement. Praise and high-value treats to really help your dog nail down the behavior you’d like to see, especially if they’re treat-driven.
Check your surroundings
Dogs thrive in conditions where they feel safe. If your dog is reacting negatively to a doorbell or another animal in the house, they may feel unsafe and want to protect their environment. Make sure your senior dog has a safe place to go if they ever feel scared. This can be a kennel or a bed, but preferably someplace with a roof and sides to create a cave-like atmosphere.
Talk to your vet
While you can address most behaviors with a trainer, some are signs of illness or injury. If your dog is hiding a lot, sleeping more or not eating or drinking, it’s time to take them to the vet for a check-up. Dogs have a hard time letting us know when they’re not feeling well, so it’s always a good idea to connect with your local vet if you notice a sudden change in your dog’s behavior.
Here at Russel's K9 Academy, we believe that every pet and owner should be able to live a happy, stress-free life. And our years of experience in training senior dogs ensure that you and your canine can enjoy a harmonious existence together.
If you need help training an older dog or have questions about our training programs, contact us today! We’d love to hear from you.