Happy dog on the lawn

The saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” And while this saying has been around for many years, it is NOT true!  In fact, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  Many people adopt an adult dog or simply never trained their dog as a puppy but it is not too late.  You can and should teach your old dog new tricks.

Adult dogs have something that puppies often do not have – patience.  Puppies tend to lack patience or self-control.  So, while they are young and do not have any bad habits to unlearn, it may actually take longer to train a puppy a trick or command than it would take to teach it to an adult dog.  The training technique for adult dogs is no different than that of training a puppy.  Decide what your training objective is, grab some small treats, and begin.  If you want to train your dog to sit, tell them to ‘sit’ and then wait.  If they choose to sit, reward them with a treat and ‘good job.’  If they do not sit, they do not get a treat.  Depending on your dog’s temperament and personality, you can physically show them what you mean and what you want them to do by gently forcing their hind to sit down.  Once they do you can give them the same reward.  Do that a few times and they should start to pick up on what they need to do to earn a treat.

If it is not a trick or command you want them to learn but, rather, correct potty habits, it will take a little work but it is achievable!  Your dog may have learned bad potty habits form a previous owner or just because you never had a chance to properly train them.  Whatever the reason, it is important that if you catch them in the act of relieving themselves indoors, you make a loud noise and try to startle them in the middle of the act.  Promptly pick them up or usher them outside.  Make them send exactly where they are allowed to relieve themselves and tell them ‘potty’ or whatever command you want them to learn.  This will take repeated and consistent enforcement on your part.  While it is not simple, your dog can learn exactly where you want them to go to the bathroom and correct their behavior.  No matter how old your adult dog is, it is never too late to learn a new ‘trick.’