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Tips For Training An Older Dog
The age of your dog can often affect how you should train him. The elements are the basically the same but, the process can be longer and more difficult. Follow these few simple tips and you will have a well trained older dog in no time.
- Patience: No matter how old your dog is you will need to have patience to train him however, older dogs might require even more patience because you may have to correct old habits and work extra hard to get him to obey. It is important to keep training sessions short and frequent. Be patient and learn to read your dog’s signals so you know when he is tiring or becoming frustrated. Never lose your cool when training an older dog or you may be working in vain. I’m sure it was an impatient person who coined the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
- Time: It really depends on the dog but, some older dogs take longer to train than puppies and some take less time. It might depend on his history. If you have a dog that is coming from a well-trained back ground then he may take to your training much quicker than a puppy. However, if you have a dog that is a rescue or is from a background that had no formal training then your dog may require more time than a younger dog.
- Minimize Distractions: Training sessions for most dogs should begin in an environment with as little distractions as possible. It is particularly important with other dogs to make sure the area is quiet. Older dogs, especially rescues are more likely to be distracted or even afraid of loud noises. Loud noises aren’t the only distractions, things such as other dogs barking or even children playing can be stressful for an older dog when he is trying to train.
- Understanding: With older dogs it is paramount that develop a relationship with him before training. Once you begin training and he seems distracted or confused, try to figure out why he is not following your commands. For example, he may be confused because of previous training and may misunderstand your commands. Your older dog already has fears in place and may completely ignore your commands simply because he is scared of something, such as tone of voice or even cars going by on the highway. If his background is unknown it will take a lot of understanding to figure out the best way to communicate with him.
- Be creative: If your typical method of training just isn’t working for him you may have to get a little more creative. Unlike the blank canvas you have in a puppy an older dog may have a world of information or training that doesn’t fit your commands. So be creative, if he doesn’t comprehend the “come” command, you may have to try a new word for that command.
- Family Involvement: It is important when training a dog, especially an older dog that you involve everyone who lives with your dog. An older re-homed dog may have preconceived notions about certain sexes or ages of people. For example, he may have been previously hurt or allowed to be squeezed by a child and therefore may be alarmed by your children or may even become aggressive toward them. If you involve them from the very start of the training it will help your dog to gain trust and respect for everyone in the family, not just one person.
One of the best ways to bond with an older dog especially if he is being re-homed is to train him. He learns a lot about you during the training process and will develop trust and loyalty just like a puppy will. Training grows your relationship with your dog and helps him to feel that he has a purpose in his new environment. Whether your training is successful or not will depend largely on your attitude and willingness to understand your dog and his reactions. Stick with the training and remember that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!