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You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
10 December 2018
No matter the age of your dog, it is never too late to teach them new tricks. Contrary to popular belief, older dogs generally have an amazing ability to concentrate and learn new things, which makes the whole process sometimes easier than when teaching an eager pup.
If you have ever trained a pup, you’ll know how little their attention span truly is. On the other hand, an older has a much greater ability to focus and for a longer period of time. They also seem to find routine training such as housebreaking mush easier as long as you are consistent in taking them to a designated area to go to the toilet each and every time – their age also allows them to hold their bladder longer which means fewer accidents.
A wide range of tricks and behaviours can be taught with the help of patience, time, and positive reinforcement. Similar to puppies, giving your dog a treat or reward after they complete the designated task will reinforce this command and allow them to learn faster.
Dogs can be taught a number of tricks, with the regular commands of ‘sit’, ‘wait’, and ‘come’ being learnt quite easily with food treats to lure the dog in to the correct position. It is important to praise your dog as well as give the treat so they can eventually just do the trick for praise alone. It will usually take between 3 to 4 weeks of training a couple of times a day before something becomes habit.
Some dogs may have picked up bad habits in their past that relate to their behaviour or destructive nature. If this is the case, make sure that they are well exercised and have multiple toys and food to keep them stimulated and their attention away from destroying your belongings. This will require you to take them for long walks or play time that will tire the dog out – don’t finish when your pet still has a lot of energy to give as he will use this when he gets home!
Don’t expect your new older dog to be ready to train straight away. Some will take time to settle in to their new environment and be comfortable with their surroundings and what is expected of them. Once they are ready to be trained, consistent rewards of treats and praise should be a sure-fire way to get your dog to learn the trick.
If you are still having trouble with them learning new tricks after weeks of trying, a vet can check them for any physical reason or refer you to a behavioural specialist.
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