“You can’t teach an old dog…”

You have probably heard the old quip, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It is one that people like to say, but is it really true? Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Unlike some other adages, it is actually not true.

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

However, there are definitely some differences trying to teach an older dog versus teaching a younger dog.

Dogs Young and Old

The best time to train a dog and teach them new tricks is when they are younger. That is true. Younger dogs’ brains are more maleable when it comes to learning new tricks and commands. Older dogs can definitely learn new tricks and commands, though it might take a bit longer than it would for a younger dog.

As dogs get older and their joints get a bit creakier, more strenuous tricks or commands will be much harder for them to do, let alone learn. Older dogs might also have trouble seeing or hearing which would make visual or audio cues for commands harder for them to recognize.

So if your older dog is struggling to learn a command, maybe consider that the command might be a bit too difficult for them and consider trying different ones.

Here are some easier tricks that older dogs might pick up easier:

  • Speak
  • Shake
  • High Five
  • Grabbing their leash

If you are looking for more tips and content related to training, consider checking out our Tail-Wagging Tips for Training blog posts!

While a lot of these are written around the idea of training younger dogs and puppies, the advice found within can still be very useful when training an older dog.

A good one to start out with would be our article on The Importance of Reinforcers. This article helps to explain why certain reinforcers, such as treats for example, can be a very useful tool when training and how to use them effectively when training.

What About New Names?

Have you recently adopted a new dog that’s a bit older? Not crazy about the name they have from the rescue? Well, good news for you, it is possible to teach a dog a new name! Check out our blog post about naming dogs to learn more about dog names.

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