Teach them new tricks to keep it fun

While you may be satisfied with a few behavioral alterations, your dog will crave all the affection and praise you dished out during your training sessions. They will be ready and waiting for more. So you should teach them more tricks, continually adding to their repertoire while the bonds of love that connect you grow stronger. The learning process will also stimulate them mentally and physically. In truth, it will also stimulate you mentally and physically.

“Have fun with your dog every single day,” Forto advises. “There’s a certain preciousness that you want to maintain with your dog. You want to make sure that every second that you have in this life with them is useful, contented and fulfilling.”

Senior dogs may have physical limitations that prevent them from jumping to catch frisbees or chasing rubber balls that bounce 100 feet away. Nevertheless, you can still teach them to:

  • Speak
  • Give a high five
  • Shake hands
  • Walk backward
  • Turn in a circle
  • Retrieve objects like their leash or your slippers
  • Put away their dog toys
  • Play small-area, non-stressful games of fetch
  • Cover themselves with a blanket (or cover you with one)

This is just a sampling. If you’re clever and creative, the sky is truly the limit.

Give up on the idea of control

Your senior dog cannot be forced to learn. They have lived long enough to develop their own ideas about sensible or appropriate behavior, and they will only be willing to learn new behaviors if you convince them it’s a good idea.

“If you utilize the four tenets of trust, communication, clarity of intent and fun when training your dog, control happens,” Forto explains. “But if you go for control first without having those four elements in place, there will be resistance. What you’re doing is creating a culture, a set of mores of how things are done in your family.

Your senior dog will want to be accepted into that family culture, and that desire—plus your kind and respectful approach—will keep them in permanent learning mode.

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FAQs About Training Older Dogs

If you have an older dog that needs training, you likely have many questions about what such a process will entail. While we can’t anticipate all of those questions, here are a few that people ask quite often:

Can you crate train an older dog?

Dogs of any age can be taught to sleep in a crate. They must be comfortable enough to move around and sleep in it, and their food and water must also be available. A well-stocked crate is like a furnished doggy apartment; if you praise them and reward them for entering, they will see it as a place worthy of calling home. Over time, they’ll come to see their crate as a den, even asking to go in when they’re scared of thunder, fireworks or other scary noises, or if they just want to be left alone.

How to house train an older dog?

A firm and fixed schedule for outdoor walks is essential for a dog needing house training. You should praise them and give them treats when they go to the bathroom outside, but you shouldn’t scold them if they do it inside. Just remain patient and continue reinforcing the behavior you seek. Ultimately, they will alter their bathroom schedule to match your expectations.

How to leash train an older dog?

You must be extremely patient when leash training an older dog. To remedy uncontrolled pulling, you should stop immediately and refuse to move until they calm down and return to your side. Reward them generously with treats and kind words when they walk by your side voluntarily to make sure your preference is clear.

Is it too late to train my dog?

Age is never a reason to pass on trying to train a dog. Their potential to learn may decrease as they get older, but their desire to please their humans is something they will carry with them forever.

When is it too late to train a dog?

Age-related infirmities may interfere with a senior dog’s ability to learn (if they’re suffering from cognitive decline) or their capacity to perform (if they have arthritis, hearing loss, vision loss, etc.). In these situations, it may be too late to train them to do certain things, and any training activity that seems to cause them discomfort should be halted immediately.

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Help Train Your Older Dog with Treats for Senior Dogs

Dog training benefits your dog and you because it will help you build a better relationship with your senior companion.

“Dog training largely is about helping a dog fit into your life,” Forto points out. When your training efforts are successful, all will enjoy a happier and more harmonious home environment.