Old dogs. New Tricks. They’re supposed to get along like cats and dogs. But if I’ve learned one thing from watching cat videos on the Internet, cats and dogs can get along. And hey, guess what? I learned from my dog you can teach an old dog new tricks. So how do you do it? Read on.
I’ve read books, blogs and even went to doggie obedience schools and never had much luck. In fact, it was worse than that. I don’t know if you’ve tried taking your unruly pup to a training class, but I felt like one of those dogs in the dog shaming posts. Except my sign would read “I Let My Dog Jump on People and Pee on Things.”
Needless to say, my pup didn’t graduate with honors. In fact, didn’t graduate period would be more accurate. The point is I thought all hope was lost. I really believed my dog was too old to teach new tricks.
Little did I know I had all the information and techniques I needed, I was just missing the most important piece. Training a dog is not rocket science, you just need to know some basics and have this one other thing.
What was that key ingredient? My attitude! Ok, Negative Ned, stop rolling your eyes and hear me out. How do you think my dog got to be a five year old badly trained dog? Lack of effort in high school? No. It was from having an owner that didn’t train her and teach her the basics. That owner would be me.
I didn’t have the patience to train my dog. I got some of the core basics down like peeing and pooping outside most of the time, but I never followed through with the other stuff that took more time. Was my dog neglected? No, I just hated trying to make her do things I thought she didn’t want to do.
That was part of my problem. I believed that my dog thought like a human. I thought my dog didn’t want to be trained. I thought it was better to just let her do her natural thing. I didn’t look at training my dog as something that should be fun for both of us, I saw it as an oppressive chore.
My other problem was that I believed training my dog meant a bunch of yelling and stern commands. I thought it was a battle of the wills between me and my dog. I never thought of actually working with my dogs personality.
I know those two problems sound like polar opposites, but that was part of my problem too! I thought it had to be one extreme or the other.
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Bottom line, I thought I had a disobedient dog, but the reality was that my dog had a clueless owner.
I found out that if I changed my attitude and realized it was my fault and not my dog’s I started to see the whole thing in a new light.
I also decided I wanted to enjoy the training process. I started to look at these sessions as a chance to bond with my dog. This is when amazing things started happening. My once unruly obedience school dropout started to change.
My old dog was learning new tricks!
If you’ve made it this far, you probably figured out step 1 is to change your attitude. Look at teaching your dog as something fun for both of you.
After that, you need treats, lots of praise and lots of patience. Your dog isn’t going to learn in an hour, so keep your positive attitude and be patient.
To do the actual training, focus on using positive reinforcement. That’s where the treats and praise come in. You don’t want to give your dog 30 lbs of treats a day, so use small bits and don’t use a treat every time. Also remember that dogs really dig praise, about as much as they do food. So give your dog lots of praise when working together.
The main thing not to do? Don’t be a dog bully. Don’t hit or yell at your dog. Don’t reprimand her if she doesn’t follow the command. Remember the part where it was supposed to be fun?
After that, start simple and be consistent. By simple I mean just work on simple obedience commands. There are really only three commands that you need to teach your dog: Sit, Stay and Come. Below are links with step by step instructions on how to teach your dog these commands.
Consistency is important too. You need to work with your dog everyday and you need to use the same commands. You also need to try to be consistent in day to day living too.
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I just needed to change my attitude before I could teach my dog. It will take some patience and some time, but it was totally worth it for me. Let me know if you’ve had any luck training your old dog in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Also, if you want more info, you can get this free Everyday Dog Training Guide here. Check it out!
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