We’re interested in adopting a senior pet soon, but are concerned about bringing an animal into our home who might have long-held bad manners that can’t be reversed (due to old age). What do you think…are senior dogs trainable?
Skeptical of senior pets in Shady Grove
In case you didn’t know, November is Adopt A Senior Pet month, so in shelters across the area, you’re likely to get a great deal on a slightly older pet. These pets all come fully-vetted and spayed or neutered with a clean bill of health.
Also, you’re in luck because the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” just doesn’t hold water with most dogs. In fact, there are even some basic commands that you can teach your older dog at home that will greatly help him to interact more favorably at home as well as out and about.
Start With Simple Commands
“The first few commands are usually basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, walking on leash, and most importantly, to come when called,” said Elizabeth Bachle, a technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences pharmacy and an agility instructor at Puppy Love training. “These are a great foundation to training more complex behaviors and can keep your pet out of harm’s way.”
“Training your dog not only rewards good behaviors, but can also prevent unwanted behaviors before they begin,” said Bachle. “I would highly encourage new puppy owners to attend a group class to socialize and create a strong foundation of learning, but dogs of all ages benefit from a new challenge.”
Use Positive Reinforcement
During training, it is important to use positive reinforcements when they’re showing progress. Rather than punishing your old man for all the things you don’t want him to do, concentrate on teaching him what you do want him to do. When your dog does something good, convince him to do it again by rewarding him with a treat or a nice, long tummy scratch.
“One of the most important decisions you can make for your dog is the training method you decide to use at home or in group classes. There are many methods out there but I highly encourage the use of positive reinforcement techniques, such as clicker training, and discourage the use of punishment when training any dog,” said Bachle.“Punishment can have a lot of negative effects, including fear, aggression, or distrust, while reinforcement is effective, builds confidence, and makes training fun for you and your dog!”
Training Classes Can Really Help
If you’ve tried training your dog one-on-one at home but seem to be getting nowhere, training classes can be a great alternative.
Providing him with the opportunity to interact with other dogs and their owners in group classes can be a great way to socialize and expose your dog to new situations and distractions in a safe environment.
Most importantly, remember to be patient. Like children, dogs have short attention spans and learn at all different paces. If done with patience and persistence, training your pooch–no matter what his age–can be an enjoyable bonding experience for you both.
Do you have a question for Tabby? If so, email her at dear firstname.lastname@example.org
Pet of the Week
Meet Summer. This 5 month old pittie/Shepherd mix loves everyone she meets–children, other dogs and even cats! Summer was displaced by the flood when her family had to give her up after they lost their home. Summer is happy and healthy and would be the perfect match for most any family…especially yours! To learn more about Summer, contact Jamie’s Animal Rescue at www.jamiesrescue.org.