Old dogs love learning and training.
If you have an older dog, one of the best things you can do for her is to keep her mind sharp. Older dogs are great learners! Think about it: they aren’t as wild as puppies (remember this early video from Levi?), they usually already have the basics down, and understand the learning process.
Working with an older dog can be — dare I say it — even more fun than working with a young pup.
Keeping a dog’s mind active accomplishes a few things: it tires them out (yes, thinking can be tiring), it’s great for keeping their good manners skills sharp, and it keeps them engaged in life and with you.
Old dogs need mental stimulation.
They generally don’t get as much exercise as when they were younger due to stamina and the overall aging process, so creating thinking games (training!) really gives your dog lots of benefits.
You can pick just about anything to teach your old dog. Keep their physical limitations in mind, of course — probably no high jumps, fast downs, or other activities that your dog may find uncomfortable.
Sometimes, when I’m working with my older dogs, I like to offer them an object with which to interact. I let the dog drive the training session — allowing them to choose the behavior they’d like to do with the object.
Lily had the chance to work with a red plastic cup and I love that she steered the training session and told me what we were going to work on. I love watching this girl work — no one loves work more than Lily and she’s thrilled when I call her name to be next into the training session.
Dorothy Slover Adams says
My 9 year old lab is a more enthusiastic learner than my 2 year old lab. Sure, she doesn’t do as much in the way of tricks, but she absolutley loves the challenge. The emotional aspect if so fulfilling for her! I can tell she thrives on the one on one attention and gets great satisfaction from all that reinforcement. I think she needs it more than my younger dog.