Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teaching an Old dogs New tricks!

So you think your dog is too old to learn new tricks?

Well think again!

This is Champ, he's a great old guy (about 10 years old), he had a few issues that he needed to work on, one of the really nice benefits from using positive reinforcement to teach your dog is you get that excitement from them that you might have thought was long lost to puppy-hood years ago!
They are not as hyper and tend to focus better then they did as a puppy, so the time you might have lost to having to take things a bit slower at first are evened out by the fact that they can pay attention better a lot of times!

Champ wasn't too fond of other dogs which he learned to do better with, and he learned Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, and a trick I refer to as "Oops" (quickly changing directions to avoid potential problems with other distractions)!  We even got him on a better food and he lost several of the extra pounds on him and his coat took on a better shine to it in just the six weeks that he was in class!  Remember he has given you the best years of his life, don't forget about him as he ages and isn't able to put himself in the spotlight like he did when he was younger, he still wants and needs that same TLC he did when he was younger, and if he acts painful or like he would rather sleep all day, that can indicate a health issue that needs to be addressed, such as arthritis. (which can be helped a lot by simple over the counter Omega 3 fatty acids a lot of time.  Look some Green Lipped mussels, one really good one is from the Greenies brand).

 If you are the proud owner of an older dog it may take a few extra sessions, or a bit more patience on your part while learning something new, but rest assured, it can be done! You might be surprised at the results that come from teaching your older dog new things.  One thing that is different between humans and dogs is the fact that dogs live in the present, which means they don't go over their past like we do.  If a dog is happy, scared, sad or bored, he will be until something in his current situation changes.  So if your dog is getting slower, or has seemed to lose a bit of his love of life that he used to have, try teaching him something new, you will find that he may just pick that spark back up.  It may not mean that he will be running all over the yard again, but maybe there will be a bit more spring in his walks. Studies have shown that those who continue to learn new things even as they get older have fewer "senior moments." Don't give up on your old pal even if he is walking a bit slower these days!  Pull out that clicker and get to teaching something new! In fact if you have never used the clicker with your dog before (like Champ) simply teaching him a new method of learning can be fun and rewarding!  
Some fun things that you may not have taught him in the past and could start teaching now (which are really simple to teach) are; "Touch," "Shake," & "Kisses."
Get creative, & keep it simple to start, the sky's the limit once you start!

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