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Old Dogs Learn New Tricks: Tips From Our Top Breeders

Uptown Staff

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks: Tips From Our Top Breeders

You’ve probably heard the old adage “you can’t train an old dog new tricks.” Although it’s true that puppies often learn commands more quickly, it’s still possible to train old dogs new commands. In fact, older dogs can often be easier to train, as they tend to be more disciplined and have better self control.

It’s also important that you train your dog throughout their life. Training keeps a dog’s mind sharp, engaging their senses and keeping them active.

Here are some tips on how you can easily train an older dog without the hassle.

Always Stay Patient

If you have recently adopted an older dog, you may be tempted to teach them new commands right away. Although dogs can learn right away in new environments, it’s best to give them time to adjust to your home.

Older dogs will often be anxious when they first move to a new home. They may not trust you yet, making it hard to keep their attention while training. By letting them get to know you before you start training, they’ll feel more comfortable when you do start teaching them commands.

Start With Crate Training

Many people who adopt older dogs assume that they are already crate trained. However, many dogs have never been properly housebroken, and may not know where they are supposed to use the bathroom.

When you first get an older dog, start training them as if they were a puppy. Keep them in a crate where they don’t have too much room, as they may try to use a large crate as a bathroom.

Take them outside to the spot where you want them to do their business. When they do as they’re told, reward them with plenty of treats and praise. They will soon learn that the only place they should go to the bathroom is outside.

Older dogs often learn this process quite quickly, and many will be partially or fully crate trained when you get them. Older dogs also have a bit more self control, as well as larger bladders, making it less likely that they have an accident in their crate or around the house.

Take Them To An Obedience Class

Obedience classes are designed for dogs of all ages, so don’t feel ashamed to take an older dog to a class. Older dogs can pick up plenty of new commands even if they have basic obedience training. If they don’t, you can use an obedience class to catch them up on basic commands.

Not all dogs have been properly socialized when they’re young. Although it can be a bit more difficult to socialize older dogs, it’s still possible. Obedience classes are a great place to start, offering a structured environment where your dog can interact with others and learn the right social skills.

Common Problems

Although training an older dog often goes smoothly, there are some common problems that come up. Older dogs have already learned the rules at another house, and it can take them some time to adjust to how you do things. Some of them may also have been abused in the past, contributing to behavioral problems.

Establish House Rules

It can take a while for your older dog to adjust to the new rules of your house. But it’s important that you start early when training them what is and what is not acceptable.

Older dogs may try to establish dominance by sitting on furniture or jumping up on you. You need to establish your house rules so that your dog does not continue bad behaviors they learned in their previous house.

Help Them Learn Self Control

Although older dogs often have better self control than puppies, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to teach them how to behave. A good training method is to only give them rewards after they do something right.

For example, you can require good behavior before taking your dog on a walk. If they don’t behave, they don’t get the reward. This can help teach older dogs how to control themselves so that they get something that they want.

Make Sure Everyone Uses The Same Commands

It’s hard enough learning new commands when you move to a house as an older dog. Don’t make the process any harder by confusing your dog with different commands.

Often, different members of families will try to use different cue words with their dog. This can be quite confusing for older dogs, who have often already learned commands for certain behaviors.

Make things easy for your dog by coordinating with everyone in the house, ensuring that you all use the same commands and stick to the same training routine. This will help make the transition easier for your dog, and will also make training go much faster.

Use Positive Reinforcement

The most important factor with training an older dog is your attitude. It’s crucial that you always remain positive when training your dog, rewarding good behavior without punishing them when they do something wrong.

Give your dog some of their favorite treats as a reward when they get a behavior right. If it takes them some time to learn, stay patient, and never yell at your dog while training. This will help you form a bond based on trust.

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