Training an Older Dog

Whoever says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is in for a surprise. Just as adults can continue to learn as they grow older, older dogs may be able to participate in obedience training. And while Old Sparky won’t be competing in the next doggie Olympics, it shouldn’t stop you from considering further training. We’ve consulted some of our older canine friends who visit The Dog Stop®, and they gave us a few thoughts on obedience training classes.

Physical Fitness is a Factor. Older dogs are not as agile as they once were, and it might be a bit harder for them to exert a lot of energy. Consider this and any health conditions – like obesity, heart problems, and bone or joint issues – before enrolling them in a training program. It’s wise to consult their vet on this issue as well. Give them ample time to rest during training, and don’t let them overdo it.

Consider Their Mental Health. Sadly, some aging dogs experience something called “doggie Alzheimer’s,” a cognitive disorder including loss of bladder control, decreased hearing, disorientation, and altered behavior with family members. While there is medication called ‘Anapril’ prescribed by vets to alleviate some of these symptoms, consider their senile behavior if you plan on engaging your dog in a training program.

Training in the Past. If you’ve used positive reinforcement to train your dog, it’s more likely to want to continue to learn new things. If you’ve used negative reinforcement such as yelling or verbal punishments, the older the dog gets the less likely they’re going to be interested in trying new things. If you’re trying to train an older dog, be extra patient and reward them with lots of love and attention!

Research Trainers. It’s a good idea to look into trainers with experience working specifically with older dogs. If you’re that serious about teaching your dog new things or correcting unwanted behavior, take the time to find someone who is going to give them the patience and extra care an aging dog needs.

While training an older dog may be difficult, it’s surely not impossible. Just like Grandma who’s mastered social networking, your older dog can learn new tricks! At The Dog Stop’s Strip District location we offer obedience training for dogs of all ages. We also offer private lessons and in-home services along with doggie daycare, boarding, and grooming.

The Dog Stop has many locations around the country for you to check out!