Whoever said that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ obviously never owned a dog. While some parts of the aging process may slow your pup’s learning, he can continue to learn new tricks at any age. Furthermore, training your furry friend into adulthood can help keep his mind sharp, his body fit, and greatly increase their quality of life!
While it’s true that your pup may have some limitations because of his age, these limitations are mainly physical ones, which usually presents itself in the form of arthritis. Senior dogs are happy when they meet a new challenge and never tire of pleasing their people! Your pup loves developing his bond with you, and all of the fun things you do together. The strengthening of this bond should not be affected by age. Sadly, as our pets get older we often do less with them, meaning we take them for shorter walks, less playing fetch in the park, less training sessions. It is important to know that your pup doesn’t want you to give up on your time together just because he is getting older, so give him a chance to prove to you that not much has changed!
Training your old dog with new tricks can provide your dog with mental stimulation and can even give your dog an appropriate level of physically activity. Furthermore, working on new tricks with your dog helps keep your relationship strong and gives both you and your pup the opportunity to bond.
Teaching your dog new tricks has benefits for dogs of any age. For instance, you can help improve your dog’s learning response, memory, and cognitive skills by training your dog to do physical tricks you can help your dog’s stamina and/ or muscle tone which contributes to their physical well-being.
There are some things that you must be aware of when training an older dog: your dog may have physical limitations and/ or cognitive limitations. Arthritis, joint, and muscle disorders can make some motions uncomfortable or even painful for your dog. Discuss your dog’s physical health with a vet to see what your dog can physically do without being uncomfortable. If your dog is blind or deaf find different cues to train your dog with. Here is a useful article that discusses visual cues for training deaf dogs.
Just like with humans, dogs can have cognitive limitations as they grow older and you may notice changes in their behavior. Older pets may forget some tricks or house rules, they may develop anxiety or confusion. Often times, pet parents lost patience with their dog because they think their dog is being obstinate and simply disobeying. That is not the case! It is up to you, as their person, to practice patience and compassion for your pup when he is going through changes. It is also up to you to never give up on your pup, and the activities that bring you together (such as daily training sessions).
Remember, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! By doing so, you’ll make him smarter, stronger and thereby increase his quality of life and life span but best of all, he’ll love you even more for it!