By Laura Potts, Digital Marketing Specialist
We all know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right? Actually that isn’t true. But even I believed that saying when it came to my two older dogs Ellie and Lincoln. Like many, I thought their personality and behavior were set by the time I adopted them as adults.
Over the years I learned that although their personality is set, their behavior can be trained. So whether or not they’re energetic or mellow will remain the same, but you can teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, veterinarians and dog trainers encourage teaching older pets new things to keep them stimulated and active throughout their lives. And I have certainly seen the benefits with my two dogs. Even in their older years, they are still eager to learn new things. Here are some new tricks and behaviors I have taught my old dogs.
Don’t pull: While both of my pooches are less than 20 pounds they still loved pulling on the leash. With a nose to the ground and endless curiosity, they were always on a mission to find sniff just a little bit further. But a sore arm from pulling made for a not so fun walk. I corrected this problem with simply putting pressure on the leash. When they pulled to the point my arm was outstretched, I gently pulled back quickly causing brief tension on their collar. That simple motion repeated over the course of a 30 minute walk solved the problem in a matter of a few days. Now when we walk they know they are free to wander to the length of their leash, but when they feel the leash pull, that’s their cue to slow down.
Quiet: This trick was more for our little noise box Ellie. She loves to bark (hence her appearance in this PetSafe Vibration Bark Control video)! This bad behavior was so excessive we almost had to find Ellie a new home. But with the help of a remote trainer we were able to quickly teach her the trick of being quiet and instantly decrease the noise level in our house. Here’s how we did it. I didn’t want her to stop barking altogether as sometimes it was comforting to have her alert us. So we started by finding a level on the collar that got her attention but didn’t cause her to react strongly. Then we allowed her to bark once or twice before giving her the command “quiet”. If she continued to bark, I resaid the “quiet” command and tapped the stimulation on the collar at the same time. The stimulation and command continued simultaneously until she stopped barking. Within a matter of a few days of training, she instantly knew to follow my “quiet” command.
Sit and Eat: Both of my dogs adore supper time. Just the sound of a can opener will send them into a mad dash for the kitchen. And in their excitement, they had a bad habit of jumping all over me eagerly awaiting their food. To make dinner time more stress-free, I taught each of them to sit and wait for me to fill their bowls and place them on the ground. Even when I release the bowl and step away, they are trained to wait for the command “eat” before scarfing down their food.
After training my two rowdy seniors, I know teaching an old dog a new trick can be just as rewarding as if they were still puppies. What about you? What tricks have you taught your old dog?
Don’t forget to check out how Natalie teaches her new dog old tricks!
Laura manages the complete digital media presence for the PetSafe Brand. Laura also donates her time to helping improve animal welfare. She has helped saved the lives of many pets through her work and more directly by adopting two dogs of her own, Ellie and Lincoln who often accompany her to work and to volunteer events in Knoxville.