PET CARE

How to Train Older Dogs

3 min read Jan 26, 2022

It doesn’t matter how old your dog is; you can still teach him something new.

In fact, it’s a great idea to stimulate your older dog’s mind and body. It can help her feel young again and may even help her live longer.

So, if you’re ready to teach your old dog some new tricks, then keep reading to find out exactly how.

Step 1: Learn How to Train Older Dogs

Training older dogs is a little different than training a puppy or a young dog. Younger dogs may be full of energy and easily distracted, so training sessions should be short and high-energy.

With older dogs, they’re more relaxed and may be less motivated to do so much movement, especially if they have various health concerns like arthritis or hearing loss. That’s why you want to take some time to read up on what you should do if you want to train an older dog.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

There isn’t much you need to start training, but it will still help to have these basic supplies on hand when training your older dog.

Clicker

A clicker trainer is a small device that makes a distinct clicking sound when you press a button. It’s used for training a number of different types of animals. It’s great for helping the animal know when they did something right.

Clickers are inexpensive and you can use them with other pets, so we highly recommend picking one up!

Props

If you want your dog to learn to carry something in his mouth or go through a hoop, you’ll need to have those things on hand. Think in advance about the tricks you want to teach your dog and be ready with the needed props so everything is set up when it’s training time.

Rewards

The most important thing you’ll need for training your older dog is a reward. Figure out the best way to motivate them and have it available for them. If your dog is motivated by food, find some healthy dog treats to offer them. If they’re overweight, use their dinner so you’re not adding extra calories.

Other dogs may be motivated by a special toy or ball, or may just want a pat on the head when they did what you wanted them to. Whatever it is, finding the right way to motivate your pet will make training them significantly easier.

Step 3: Find the Right Time and Place

Even the best dog will have trouble focusing on a training session if there are too many other things going on in the background. Help your pooch out by finding a quiet place to train them. It should be in an area they’re familiar with, but away from the main part of the house.

The other thing to consider is the timing. Pay attention to your dog’s routine for a few days before deciding what time is best for her. For example, if she always takes a long nap in the afternoon, that’s probably not going to be the best time to train. Wait until she’s a little more awake to try training.

Step 4: Start Training!

Now, you’re ready to start the training session. You’ve got everything together and you’re prepared mentally and physically.

Here are a few quick tips to help your training session go smoothly:

  • Keep it shorter than 15 minutes
  • Only focus on one new trick per training session
  • Have your dog do his old tricks between practicing a new trick
  • When first learning a new trick, reward even the smallest bit of progress
  • Don’t get frustrated with your dog; keep it fun
  • Always end on a good note, even if that means an old trick

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Dogs need repetition to really learn something, so don’t expect your dog to master a new trick in just one training session. She may have even completely forgotten it by the next day. It’s ok. Just teach it again and it’ll stick eventually.

Even more than repetition, dogs love routines. If you can, train your older dog at the same time each day. Perhaps as soon as you get home from work, or right after dinner. When your dog knows it’s time to learn, he’ll be much more prepared to do so.

Remember your goal with teaching your old dog new tricks should be to have fun together, so if you’re both not enjoying the time, you may want to find another activity you can do with your dog.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.