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We’ve all heard the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But the truth is, not only can you teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s pretty much just like training a younger dog. Furthermore, senior dogs have better attention spans, which can make the training easier. Note, when working with a senior dog you’ll need to know a few things before getting started. Below is a list of our 10 favorite senior dog training tips. If you have any tips of your own for training senior dogs, please share in the comments section.
1. Don’t Be Repetitive
Repetition is hard on an old joint. For example, avoid asking your senior dog to lay down 10 times in a row, without giving them a break. If the training becomes too uncomfortable due to the pain, your dog isn’t going to want to respond.
2. Consult Your Veterinarian
If you’re looking to spend a day doing some high-intensity training like agility training, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian on whether your senior dog is strong enough for it. There are senior border collies in this world that are still doing herding competitions and others who struggle to get upstairs in the house. Since every dog is different, it’s best to check with your vet first.
3. Train in Short Sessions
Keeping your training sessions short is best for your senior dog. This isn’t just because of information overload or boredom, but mostly because of joint pain and fatigue.
4. Be Mindful of Temperatures
Older dogs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, in comparison to younger dogs. Keep an eye on the thermometer when training your senior dog. If you notice excessive panting, take a break. You don’t want your dog in an uncomfortable state when training.
5. Use Hand or Verbal Signals
Every dog is different, so choose signals that work for your senior dog. If your dog is deaf than use hand signals. If your dog is blind than use verbal signals. If your senior dog’s vision and hearing are still intact, but old age is approaching, teach them both so the transition is as smooth as possible when the time comes.
6. Don’t Push Their Limits
Chances are your 13-year-old Golden Retriever with joint pain isn’t going to be up for dock diving. If an exercise or action is causing pain, then move on from it and ask him to perform a simpler task. Don’t force your senior dog if he refuses. Keep the training safe and within his limits.
7. Train on Beds and Pillows
Beds and pillows are great for training your senior dog. If you sit, down, and stay is what you’re working on, then give the old dog a soft surface to train on. Keeping the training comfortable can help improve response times and attention spans.
8. Don’t Overdo Treats
One of the most important senior dog training tips is to not overdo the treat intake. Most senior dogs are on strict diets for common health issues such as thyroid problems and diabetes. If you can stick with low-calorie treats. Though, this may not be possible since not all dogs respond to treat training. If so, try veggies like carrots, but clear it with your veterinarian first.
Hopefully, these senior dog training tips will be of use to you and your senior dog. Healthy training and exercise is a great addition to the schedule when caring for senior dogs. Remember to go at their pace and be patient with results. Again, if you have any senior dog training tips of your own, please share them in the comments section below.