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Tuesday Training Byte: Training an older dog?

I had written previously about the best time to start training a dog is immediately. However, what about those who get a dog that is already an adult or an older dog? Contrary to the old adage, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Obviously, training is easier to start right when they are young. But older dogs tend to have longer attention spans than a young pup. Keep in mind, that dogs do not understand English or any language for that matter, but your body language, cues and facial expressions will make it more clear what you want the dog to do. I had a 7 year old Rottweiler that I gave to my husband shortly before we were married. This dog had been shown some in conformation, but then she just became a pet with knowing minimal commands. Just before she was 9 years, my husband decided he wanted to train her to compete in obedience to earn a title. I helped coach him and in no time they earned her CD- Companion Dog- the first level of obedience, and with good scores and placements! He had never trained or competed with a dog before, so he was a pure novice training an old, novice dog. The time he spent with her just made their bond grow all the deeper. When training an older dog, be sure that the dog is in good health and free from pain before starting. If the dog is not catching on, it is not clear what it is you are asking it to do. If the older dog has never been crate trained or used to walking on a leash, be sure to use lots of encouragement and then follow with praise. Think what it might be like if in later life you decided to get your college degree, but you haven't done algebra for for 25 year- and then it wasn't pretty! That might be how your dog is feeling when you are now asking it to do and learn new things. An extra dose of patience and encouragement goes a long way. Gitta passed about a year after earning her title, but the last year and a half, they really enjoyed life, as you can see by her smile.


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