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Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Is this true?

4516 day(s) ago

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You canít teach an old dog new tricks. Weíve all heard the saying. It is a common expression, conveying the message that as we get older we tend to get set in our ways, whether those ways are for good or ill. While this seems to hold up as a generalization for human beings, the literal message is not exactly true. Perhaps if your dog is so old it canít walk, you have to force feed him through a tube, and his eyes are filled with cataracts, you can probably teach that old dog a few new tricks. It just requires a little patience and a little extra effort.

Old dogs do not learn as quickly as puppies, but they can be taught any of the same tricks. Some people claim it is easier to teach an older dog because his personality is easier to interpret, especially if the dog has been with you for a number of years. You know when he will get frightened, anxious, excited, or curious, and you can use that knowledge to your advantage.

Older dogs can be taught a number of different tricks or behaviors. It may not be possible to change what a dog is feeling, but you can certainly change how a dog reacts to particular situations. Once you discover a method that works best for you and your dog, stick with it. Most behaviors are taught using voice cues, hand gestures, or a combination of both. When the dog performs, reward him with one of his favorite things. This will usually be a treat he really enjoys. The more he wants the reward, the more likely he will quickly pick up on what you want him to do. Later, you can let up on the reward by going to something more humdrum, like a dry biscuit or piece of regular dry food. Praise and admiration should always go along with the reward. Eventually, praise and admiration will be enough and your old dog will be performing the new tricks without a reward at all. If your old dog isnít behaving exactly as you would like, it is not too late to do something about it now.

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