Older dogs have been around the block. They can be difficult to train because they have slower responses, weakened bodies and more health issues. However, it is not impossible to train an older dog or to teach him new tricks so don’t give up on them just yet.
If you have taken up foster care for dogs recently or if your beloved dog is getting older, you may find the following tips useful to teach them new things.
- Practice patience
The first thing the trainer must do is practice patience. Older dogs have slower reflexes and responses and as a result, may not be fit for learning at a fast pace. Puppies or younger dogs learn faster because their physiology allows for it. Older dogs can get tired very quickly and may have mood swings, making them difficult to train. You must be perseverant and patient. They will learn the trick or training technique at their own pace and you must adjust to their speed.
Give them positive treatment anytime they complete a trick or a part of the training. Be patient and loving with them, but show sternness when they do not follow instructions. Use negative reinforcement like reprimands to curb behaviour you do not want to see and direct them to alternative behavioural displays through treats.
- House training
If you have adopted an older stray for instance, there will be an inevitable issue – house training. How do you train an older dog to pee outside? It’s simple; you train them the same way you do younger dogs. You need to use positive and negative reinforcement to encourage release of bowels in one outside location. You need to veer them outside anytime they start peeing in the house, make noises like clapping to convey to them that this is wrong. Give them treats and praise anytime they go outside to reinforce that behaviour.
Some older dogs may not be open to socialising, but meeting new people and dogs can be beneficial to them. They will learn positive behaviours and be less aggressive. Introduce them to people or dogs slowly, one at a time for instance, so they are not stressed out or aggressive.
- Teach them new tricks
Older dogs may get tired easily and have slower response time, but they are intelligent and can pick new tricks up as well. You can teach them to identify objects by naming them and pointing at them so that they can carry those objects to you. You can teach them to put their toys away. You can also teach them to touch or turn off things like light switches by showing them repeatedly and praising them when they observe and follow. The key to teaching them new tricks is to praise and give treats.
- Be mindful of their health.
You need to remember that your dog may have health issues. It may have issues with nobility, energy and physical ability. They may have dental problems, eyesight problems or other sensory issues. Your training should concentrate on a single goal and take into account the dog’s physical limitations.