There is a saying that has besieged older canines for many generations .  This saying, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is a delusion. Many species, including humans, absorb new things never encountered before.   Daily like humans, canines   grasp new things throughout their life. Even my eleven-year old Yellow Lab is still intellectually active and willing to learn in different ways.  He recovers on his new sofa dog bed more than usual, but is still very ready to learn.
comprehending new behaviors and tricks is sometimes as burdensome as unlearning old tricks.  Take golf for example, its more demanding to unlearn an unbalanced swing then it is to be taught the correct way the first time. Dogs thrive when they have a routine.   Changing that routine after years of repetition needs much more time and patience .  Attempting to get my old lab to do ‘high five’ was easy , but when i try to get him to do ‘shake’ all he tries to do is ‘high five’.  It requires a lot of concentrated instruction and redirection of old routines.
Depending on your canines age, physical limitations could hurt your dog’s ability to learn new tricks. A two-year-old dog has the best ability for retrieval, jumping, running, or obstacle course maneuvers . The older dog , though able and eager in it’s younger years, may still want to do all those things, but tires more easily and becomes distracted more often.  If you’re going to instruct your old dog new tricks, you’re going to need to provide the canine with sufficient dog bedding for faster recovery of long sessions of training .  
Training sessions with your older canine should be for only small periods of time with as many repetitions as able .  If you have obstacle courses design them smaller and jumps lower.  If you’re taking your dog for runs make them shorter.  If you toss the ball twenty times normally , only toss it a few times.  The idea here is to make the lessons and instruction less demanding and more involved .  You want to keep your older dog interested and not let them lose focus because they are too fatigued .  
Always give your dog the chance to recoup from a training session.  Let the canine have a longer time to rest between sessions.  Be sure not to forget that most dogs wish to please their owner so badly that they will threaten their own health to do it.  Be aware of your canine’s signs of fatigue and never strain them too much .  
Food rewards have always been a direct motivator for any canine .  This is still true for older dogs , but only in moderation .  We may want to reward our older canine for understanding a new behavior, but elderly canines can easily be ‘over treated’. They collect weight more quickly and lose pounds less quickly due to an older metabolism.
We all know the saying, location, location, location for the real estate business . The same saying goes for teaching canines , consistency, consistency, consistency. If you modify the routine in which you execute a trick the canine will become confused or start molding tricks and behaviors together.  Be specific with the time of day you instruct your canine tricks. Teach them in one area of your property and play with them in another.  Similar places for unique lessons help maintain a sense of familiarity as a foundation for new lessons.  For example, when you gather the dogs leash, does he/she not correspond that with a walk or car ride?  Grab Gather a stick for playtime and grab a tennis ball for lesson time.  The canine will still think its having fun but will know the difference in how much attention is warranted for the task at hand.
Always try to focus more on building on the canine’s existing strengths, since elderly canines are less adaptable and the trainer more easily discouraged. One canine will be good at fetch and release, the other does well with a Frisbee.  The point is, rather than push desired behavior, work with each canine’s special strengths.  Remember, consistency, and enjoy many more years with your elderly dog . 

| RSS feed for comments on this post

Comments are closed.