For animal shelters, finding their senior dogs a forever home can be difficult. And for the person adopting an older pet, bringing them into a new environment can be challenging. An important thing to remember in these circumstances is that the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is often far from true. While it may take some adjustments, training a senior dog is not only possible, it’s the best thing for both of you.
There’s an additional benefit to taking the time to teach your new friend different habits. Teaching new habits helps your dog feel useful and engaged with you. All dogs can at times become sad or lose their enthusiasm for play, but especially so as they age and experience the loss of some of their agility. Using games to teach new habits has the extra plus of giving them a happiness boost.
Another of the benefits of training is the time spent bonding one-on-one. An older dog comes with a bit more baggage than a pup, so having the opportunity to get to know each other can make the adjustment period easier. It can also show you habits you may want to work on. Older dogs may also be exhibiting signs of cognitive changes, so patience will also be required when training them to adapt their behavior.
Learning what does and doesn’t motivate your pet will help you reach greater success with training them. The method you choose should always be one of rewards rather than punishment. With patience and persistence, you and your senior dog will both feel happier and be healthier.