You have an older dog under your care, and you wonder if training and training a quadruped at his age is a good idea. In this post, you will find my answer to this question. I hope I will help you dispel all your doubts and facilitate the care of a senior dog.
Training an older dog requires a lot of patience and motivation to achieve the goal. Your senior dog will need more time to master a new command than a young puppy, but it’s not impossible. The new commands should not be burdensome for the health of the older dog’s joints and spine.
What will you learn from this article?
- You should not teach older dogs commands that require a lot of physical effort
- A senior dog will take longer to master a command than a young dog
- Choose a time of day for training when your older dog has the most energy
Training an older dog
Teaching your pet new skills requires a lot of commitment, the right approach and patience. However, does the training for a senior dog proceed the same way as for a young quadruped? Of course not. Older dogs need the right approach and treatment.
That is very important because otherwise, the senior dog training will be ineffective and not yield the expected results. What’s worse, however, it can sometimes negatively affect your dog. You need to know what commands you can teach an older dog and which ones are very inadvisable at his age.
Remember that the mobility of older dogs begins to be limited. The fact that the dog can’t do something during training may not be due to his lack of commitment to exercise, but he cannot do something.
What not to teach an older dog
Some commands are so physically demanding that older dogs should not exercise. You are crucial for your dog that you are proud of him because of his actions.
That’s why your older dog will try to follow your new commands, even if he can’t reasonably handle them. So, to avoid this situation, it’s worth knowing what commands might not work for senior dogs.
If you are wondering how you can spend time with your older dog, I refer you to the entry that you will find HERE. I have collected a few activities in it that will be a better solution for spending time with a senior dog than learning commands that are difficult for him.
Skills based on the intense dog running
The vast majority of older dogs no longer show the desire to run intensively. That is because their physical fitness does not allow them to move so quickly and efficiently. Walking is excellent, but running is something an older dog should avoid if it is too much for him.
Therefore, I advise against choosing commands for training based on intense running for a senior dog. There are not many of them, so giving them up will not significantly limit the commands you can teach your four-legged friend.
Commands that require a lot of physical fitness from the dog
Some dog commands require a specific sequence of movements more than a particular behaviour. An example of this type of command would be spin or roll.
If we are talking about older dogs, such commands will be inadvisable in their case. They can strain their joints or spine. Therefore, it is not worth deciding on them for their sake in the case of an older dog.
Brand new dog commands
Your dog gets used to different things throughout his life. Some events and situations are routine for him, and he treats them as usual. It can be counterproductive if you try to change something your four-legged friend already knows and understands well.
When your canine can respond to the command “down”, do not try in his period of being a senior dog to change the spoken command to the words “to me”. In both cases, it will be difficult for your pet to understand that you are asking him the same thing.
He may feel lost and sad that he cannot understand what you expect of him. Therefore, if your senior dog already has all kinds of behaviours and reflexes, do not try to replace them with new ones now.
How to train an older dog
Should training your older dog be the same as training your young dog? Not necessarily. Everyday life with a senior dog looks slightly different than with an adult dog. The same applies to training.
It would help if you considered your senior dog’s physical and mental health. The most important thing is your dog’s well-being and that he doesn’t feel tired and overwhelmed by your training of new skills.
A form of gratification for a senior dog
The basis of training your dog is to reward him for the correct execution of your command. There is no denying that at the initial stage of teaching a given skill, the reward in the form of the dog’s favourite treats is the most effective.
In the case of a senior dog, it can also be a kind of gratification for good execution of the command. However, it would help if you remembered that an older dog’s diet should be more thoughtful.
First, ensure that the treats you have chosen as a reward for your pet are soft enough for him to chew them. Senior dog teeth are no longer as strong, and they may be unable to chew some treats.
Also, pay attention to the number of treats your dog gets during one training session. A senior dog’s digestive system can be very delicate. Too many dried treats can be tricky on an older dog’s stomach.
Therefore, if you want to be sure that the treats given to your dog are suitable for him, and that their composition will not raise any objections, then you can make them yourself. For this purpose, I refer you to another post where I present my method of making DIY dog treats. You will find it HERE.
Dog treat bag |MIDI beige
Choose the best time of day to train your older dog
Dogs, like people, are more active and motivated to act at specific times of the day. Living with a dog by your side, you certainly know in what part of the day he is most awake, and his mind is the most receptive.
In the case of a senior dog, the choice of such a moment during the day is critical. The mind of an older dog is not as receptive as it is in the case of a puppy. Therefore, if you want to teach him new skills, it is worth taking advantage of this moment when his willingness to act is at the highest level.
What time of day your dog has the most energy depends only on him. Observe him and, on this basis, try to determine when you see him the most agitated and willing to be active. That will be an excellent time to teach him new skills.
Give your senior dog more time
Training a new skill with a senior dog will require more than it would with a puppy or young dog. Older dogs will need more repetitions to master the new skill. Often such learning can take a long time.
I think that’s why there was a belief that you cannot teach an older dog new commands. Yes, it will not be an easy task. It requires commitment and determination from both the dog and its guardian. However, it is achievable.
Therefore, if, at first, it seems to you that your dog does not understand what you want to teach him, do not give up. Try breaking your workout down into smaller parts. Perhaps in this way, it will be easier for your dog to understand the command.
Don’t expect too much from your senior dog
While learning a new skill is great for an older dog’s mind, you can’t push your dog too far if he has discovered a new command, great news! However, give him some slack before you move on to the next one. Let him not feel that your training is going on non-stop all the time.
The senior dog learns a new command
A senior dog can learn new commands with the right approach and patience. However, it’s essential to realize that it won’t be as fast and smooth as it is with a puppy.
You are teaching your senior dog new commands. If so, let me know in the comments how you’re doing.
If you have any questions or want me to discuss a topic in the next post, share it in the comments section.