Top 3 Training Tips When Adopting Older Dogs

There are thousands of blogs, articles, and books related to training your new puppy, and many people believe it is arguably much easier to train a brand-new pup over an older one. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is widely believed and many dog owners are anxious about the process of training older dogs but adopting an older dog and giving them a safe and loving home is also one of the most rewarding things you can do.


While it may take more patience and trial and error than with a puppy, there are some great training tips and tricks to follow when adopting older dogs that will make the process much more seamless for both you and your new best friend.


Set up a training schedule


If you establish a training schedule early on when bringing your dog home, you are signaling that there is a predictable routine that can be counted on and your canine friend will adapt much more quickly. Schedule things as best as you can based on your calendar including meals, potty breaks, and bedtime. If you can, try and also plan exercise times and training sessions at roughly the same time each day so these concepts can click faster for your dog.


Use positive reinforcement


Pups feed off our energies, both good and bad, and if you are encouraging and excited each time that they respond to commands or show signs of understanding and listening, they will feel that positive energy. Training treats that are small are also great tools to help positively reinforce great behaviors and habits. Reward and praise are key for keeping it fun and help you both make progress. 


Rather than scolding and yelling when your pup has an accident inside, try to give lots of praise right after they go to the bathroom outside. The goal is to have your new dog connect the praise to the action, so they establish positive habits.


Approach new skills as you would a puppy


Older dogs don’t just need to be taught when and where to use the bathroom and where to eat, they are also great students for new skills just like puppies but may need a little more practice and patience. A great trick like “shake” is a good place to start, and you should follow the same steps as you would a puppy including going through the motions of sitting, showing them the treat in your hand, closing your fist, and having them paw at the treat, essentially giving you a handshake!


Consult your veterinarian


It’s important to note that even if you try all these tips and tricks, the process may be slow based on your pup’s old habits and experiences. Patience is key when it comes to training older dogs and your veterinarian is a great resource to help you navigate this new process. Practice often and reward good behavior for the best chances of establishing good behaviors quickly and remember, establishing a routine at home is beneficial for both you and your new pet. 


If you are looking to schedule an appointment with the Bregman Veterinary Group, for your new pup or are seeking advice on how to best train your older dog that is already a patient, click here to get started!

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