This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Food Lion. All opinions are 100% mine.
Teaching an old dog new tricks can be done, it just takes some time and work. Read on for all my tips on how to teach an old dog new tricks.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Where did the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” come from? I mean, it’s a saying that I’ve heard my whole life but it doesn’t ring true…at all! I’ve never had a dog that I couldn’t teach and I’m pretty sure that saying was made up by someone who doesn’t really understand animals at all.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”You really can teach an old dog new tricks…check out these simple steps…” quote=”You really can teach an old dog new tricks…check out these simple steps…”]
When I moved into my very first “adult” apartment after graduating from college I immediately went to the animal shelter and adopted a dog. I was planning on getting a puppy but Cocoa was there and she was the sweetest, most timid, frightened girl in the place. She was most definitely the opposite of a puppy at 10 years old and 70 lbs of fluff but I immediately fell in love.
The woman at the animal shelter told me she was owner surrendered because “she shed too much”….um seriously….what on earth did her previous owners think Siberian Husky – German Shepherd Mix was going to do….those breeds are the epitome of shedding!! Anyway, Cocoa was an older dog and set in her ways but after a few weeks of coaching and training she was transformed into the perfect dog. She learned to only bark once when someone came to the door, she learned to walk on the leash, she learned sit and stay and all those basic commands, I even taught her to smile on demand! Unfortunately, 3 years ago she passed away but she made it to be 16 years old…which is a good age given her size and previous life.
Fast forward to today with Lilo and Pongo. Pongo is a shelter adoption as well and he’s 4 years old…so he’s no longer a puppy but not exactly an “old” dog either. Although, he’s stubborn and set in his ways! Pongo is a little ball of fluff…he’s a chihuahua and pomeranian mix who thinks every car that passes by is there to kill us all!
He barks at EVERYTHING!
Like, he literally barks at every single noise he hears…even the doorbells on TV! And Lilo is our American Poodle – Shepherd mix puppy we adopted from a rescue group last year. She’s 65 pounds of pure baby and everything is new and exciting to her! They are total opposites but LOVE to play together…which is quite a funny sight! Anyway, I was at my wits end a few weeks ago because they kept barking whenever I would get on the phone with a client. So, I knew it was time to start training and they’re already showing VAST improvement…I think it’s because they really want more treats…but that works for me.
How to Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
- Be Consistent
- The first rule of training, whether you’re training a puppy or an older dog, is consistency. Stay consistent in your commands and expectations. Pongo now knows that when I say “QUIET” he’s not to bark, and he knows that if he stays quiet he’ll get a treat but if he doesn’t then he’ll wind up in his crate. Same goes for Lilo…she picked up on “quiet” immediately and has helped Pongo learn the ropes.
- Always use the same wording for the command you are giving. For instance, I’m not going to use “Quiet” once and then use “Silence” or “No Barking” the next time. My words need to be short and always the same command.
- Use Hand Gestures
- Combining hand gestures with vocal commands will reinforce your expectation with your dog. Pongo and Lilo know that I expect them to sit and stay quiet if I raise my hand with a single finger pointing up. They know that I expect them to sit and stay if I raise my hand in the air, and they know to lay down if I point my finger down to the floor. Animals understand body language and movements better than vocal language.
- Treats are the key!
- Just like with kids, positive reinforcement is the perfect way to teach an old dog new tricks! If Pongo and Lilo know I have a treat in my hand then they follow my every word and watch intently for instructions so they don’t miss out on a treat.
I like to pick up treats at Food Lion because I’m already there buying my groceries! I love that their Companion Brand pet products are high-quality, affordable, and the dogs LOVE them! Companion Brand is Food Lion’s private brand and comparable to more expensive national brands but the quality for the price just can’t be beaten! For More Information about Food Lion’s Private Brand labels click here. Pongo’s absolute favorite treat is the Companion Snack Sticks…and I’ve even taught him to roll over for these. But Lilo loves the Companion Dog Biscuits and Companion Beef Hide Bones and will salivate if she hears me open the bag.
Yep, I totally spoil my dogs…but isn’t that the point…they give us so much love…we should give them lots of love right back! Have you found a great way to teach an old dog new tricks?
Share in the comments below!
Click here to learn more about Companion Products.