Although you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” in fact you can teach an old dog just about anything! It’s never too late to train a dog.
Whether you are bringing home an older dog from a shelter or rescue or you’d like to work with your own older dog, there’s no reason to delay doing some training with an older dog.
Advantages to Training an Older Dog
There are actually some advantages to working with an older dog. Older dogs may already know some commands.
They have a much longer attention span than puppies. They can understand very quickly what you want them to do because they already know a lot of human words.
And, older dogs already know how to learn. They know the routine of learning things that humans want to teach them.
Even if you are starting from scratch with an older dog and he doesn’t know any commands, chances are that he knows at least a few basic words such as “good dog” and “no.” He understands certain basic training concepts that you have to spend time teaching to a younger dog.
Older dogs are often eager to please, too. They may have seen a lot but they appreciate it when you spend time with them.
Special Considerations When Training an Older Dog
You do have to make some allowances for older dogs. An older dog may not be as active or as spry as a younger dog. Depending on the dog’s age he may have some health issues to take note of when you train.
For instance, if your older dog has some arthritis, then give him time when he sits and gets up and down repeatedly. This action may cause him a little pain.
If you are doing training that requires your dog to do things quickly then give him some extra time. So, if your training requires strenuous physical activity for your dog, do make allowances for his age.
If your older dog has had some previous training you may need to “unteach” him any lessons that hinder your current training. If he’s had any bad experiences you will need to carefully re-train him around those experiences.
Even if you are interested in training an older dog for some kinds of specialized training, such as hunting or herding, many older dogs are able to pick up these jobs and excel. If they have a natural instinct and they enjoy the work they are even more likely to love the training and learn fast.
However, on the whole, there is no reason why you can’t train an older dog. You should find that their intelligence and their ability to focus is very great. They have often gained a great deal of wisdom in the course of their lives and they can apply this to the training you are giving them.
It’s never too late to train a dog. Spend time training your older dog and watch him come alive again. He may spring to life like a puppy all over again, enjoying his work and loving spending time with you.
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