Dog training for senior dogs presents some interesting challenges, especially as compared to working with puppies and young adult dogs.
Professional trainers use a modified approach that takes into account the needs of older pets. This approach requires a little more patience and time, but the payoff is more than worth the effort.
The Unique Challenges of Training an Older Dog
Senior pets provide many advantages over younger dogs. They tend to be more calm and gentle. They require less mental stimulation and they are often happy to sit calmly and relax with their families.
However, if you adopt a senior pet that has never had any type of obedience training, you may find yourself struggling to teach the proverbial old dog a few new tricks.
Senior dogs may not be as tolerant of change or as willing to learn as their younger counterparts. They may have limited hearing or vision, which can cause stress and discomfort. They may also have physical limitations, particularly orthopedic issues, that prevent them from moving their bodies as easily or comfortably as they once could.
Respecting a Senior Dog’s Limits
Dog training for older animals must be approached with a large dose of realism. In other words, you can only teach an old dog some new tricks.
House training and general obedience can be mastered by pets of almost any age. Advanced tricks and performance commands may not work as well. Much of this has to do with limited mobility and comfort issues that come with advanced age. Some older pets may not be able or willing to tolerate learning complex commands or those that require extended attention.
Repeat short training sessions – 5 or 10 minutes – two or three times a day. Keep your voice and demeanor upbeat and positive and be sure to give your pet lots of treats and praise. Stick to one command until he masters it, before moving on to the next. Otherwise he may get confused.
Consult a Professional for Senior Dog Training
If you are struggling with dog training for a senior pet, consider looking to a professional trainer for assistance.
Professional trainers have experience working with seniors and know how to work within their constraints to establish basic obedience commands. Be sure to choose a trainer that uses only positive reinforcement practices, however, because older pets may not react well to other protocols.
Innovative K9 Academy understands the needs of older dogs and we love working with them. We can work with you one-on-one, or you can enroll your senior in one of our dog training boot camps or group classes. Give our Salt Lake City office a call today to learn more about how our experienced, professional trainers can help you with all of your dog training needs.