Yes, Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks
Old dogs Can Be Taught New Tricks!
By Yamika Damani
Old dogs can learn new tricks! Often we find that people who had brought home a pet dog, and formerly swore to care unconditionally for the animal, eventually fail miserably at their job. The dogs wind up abandoned at local shelters and usually having lost complete faith and trust in their human companion. And then there are those unspoken heroes that choose to adopt these dogs and make them a part of the family. Training a senior dog can be challenging but it is not impossible.
Health comes first when old dogs learn new tricks
Veterinarians consider small breed dogs to be senior citizens at age 11 while large breed dogs at 6 to 8 years of age. Have your vet thoroughly examine the dog’s physical andcognitive abilities. Senior dogs have conditions such as arthritis or canine cognitive dysfunction (in simple terms an ageing brain) that causes them to experience pain, disorientation and anxiety.
Apart from getting them the right medical treatment you can also set up your home and plan theirroutine to make it more comfortable for them to cope. Avoid having your dog climb stairs at homeand instead set up his living space on the ground floor or use the elevator if you live in anapartment. Keep walks short and do not play games like fetch on slippery smooth flooring. Mental stimulation and good diet is very essential to maintain a healthy brain. Introduce them to simple puzzle games and provide them with a nutrient rich diet to include superfoods.
2. What the past holds
To get to know a rescued pet’s past may be impossible but one can identifysigns that give you insight. For instance, if your rescue dog gobbles their food down very quickly orhovers around their bowl and growls if you or another animal come close to them, this implies thatyour dog may have grown up in a situation where there was limited access to a foodsource. Encouraging your dog to eat from your hands while praising them with a pleasant “goodboy” could be the first step towards a happier more confident dog. Introducing a senior rescue pet to a household with other pet dogs there most likely will lead to conflicts between the dogs. It’s worth the while to contact a professional dog trainer to find the best solution for your beloved pets to live inharmony.
3. Take it easy – old dogs can learn new tricks
Remember to keep a reasonable pace when teaching your seniordog new behaviours and commands. Reward based and positive training methods can go a longway for teaching commands like sit and stay. Moreover, reinforcing desired behaviours appropriately and in a timely manner with high value food and toys can be very encouraging for your dog.
For instance, it may be wiser to use boiled chicken than plain biscuits to reinforce a “stay” command.Take it easy with your senior dog, it is not mandatory that they learn advanced commands like“heel”. So stick to the easier stuff. The more consistent you are about practicing training routineswith your dog, the easier it is for him to learn and recall.