We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but is it true?

Older dogs (or senior dogs, if you will) may have some unique training needs, but we can dispel this myth right away! Senior dogs often love to learn new tricks and new games, and the team at Oakland Vet Referral Service can guide you through some tips for teaching your older dog something new.

Old School

First, let’s be clear: teaching your older dog something new is not only possible, it is great for them, physically and mentally. Physical activity helps to keep your adult / senior dog’s joints and muscles strong and limber, and can help to alleviate stiffness and pain.

Likewise, the mental exercise that learning something new provides helps to keep your older dog interested and engaged in life and in you. So, teach and play away!

Slow and Steady

Remember though, that your older dog may need to go a bit slower than he did as a young dog. Joint and muscle pain may make certain movements uncomfortable for them. So choose tricks and games that require less physical strength or movement. And remember that they may need more rests in between training sessions than a younger dog would.

Sometimes older dogs have vision or hearing problems that might impact their ability to learn as quickly as they once did, too. Some of these signs of aging may be treatable, so check with your family veterinarian to find out if you can make your senior dog more comfortable.

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Tricks don’t need to be complicated. It’s the learning and spending time together that’s important. Keep it fun, low key, and keep training sessions short. Use lots of positive reinforcement, and make sure it’s physically safe.

Your older dog will love these opportunities to learn and play. Once you see that playful spark in their eye, you know you’ve hit the right note!

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Put your toys away
  • Speak
  • Kiss
  • Shake
  • High-Five
  • Crawl
  • Weave through your legs
  • Push a ball
  • Roll over
  • Bow

If you’d like more ideas about how to teach an old dog new tricks, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The team at OVRS is always here to help make sure your senior dog is healthy and happy.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but is it true?