How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

There’s an old saying that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I’m here to tell you that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks and you can do so with positive motivation!

First off, dogs do not need to be abused in order to learn right from wrong. Listen to your Livonia vet on this one. Also, punishing a dog after the fact is not going to help. If they chewed something a while ago, they won’t remember or know what it is you’re upset about. That leads to the first lesson:

  1. Keep it simple.

In the beginning, this is the most important part. On the whole, dogs are able to learn a few hundred distinct words. Sometimes, a phrase can count. But ideally, stick to short commands. “Sit.” “Stay.” “Paw.” “Potty.” Keeping the command short gives less room for your pet to misinterpret what it is you want. Check with your Livonia vet for more.

  1. Give lots of positive praise.

Your canine friends long for your approval! They want you to love them. This is one of the best ways to reinforce positive behavior. Did Scruffy sit? Say “Good boy!” Act the part as well. Show him that you approve and are excited. This is the same for when he goes to the bathroom outside. Unfortunately, there are some older dogs who still haven’t learned where to go. So taking the dog outside and praising it when it completes its task will cause a positive memory association with going outside, which leads to the next point. Your Livonia vet can help with this.

  1. Be patient.

It will take a little time, but they’re worth it. If Scruffy isn’t a puppy anymore yet still hasn’t been housebroken, have no fear! Take the time to praise him when he goes to the bathroom outside. It might take a while and a lot of walking for him to have to go the right way, but when he does, make sure he understands it’s a good thing! When trying to teach something like sitting, it might take time and repetition. If it’s been a week or so and Scruffy still hasn’t learned yet, check out your Livonia vet.

  1. Bribe often.

Never forget the value involved with bribing your dog! Your Livonia vet will tell you that canines love food. They love treats. Give them when they are deserved. Did he sit? Give him a little one and praise him. When he does it again, give him another and praise him some more. Over time, he’ll understand and it won’t require so many t-r-e-a-t-s!

Take the time to train your dog, no matter his current skill level. You’ll be glad you did. If you want more information, check out your Livonia vet clinic.


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