Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Most people associate training with puppies, but dogs can learn at any age. Which is great news if you’ve recently adopted a dog and they could do with a little brush up on their training.

Follow these simple principles to get the best results.

Be patient

When you first bring home your new furry friend from the shelter, keep in mind that moving is stressful for them and they don’t yet know you, your family or your home. Factor in that your dog may have had some difficult experiences in the past and it makes sense that they will need a period of adjustment. During that time, you need to do everything you can to make your dog feel confident and secure – this will make training much easier.

Be consistent 

You might feel uncomfortable establishing rules with your new four-legged friend, especially if they have had a tough time in the past or seem a bit nervous and anxious. However, it’s really important to have clear and consistent boundaries from day one. Whether it’s not chewing the table leg or not jumping on the bed, your dog won’t understand why there’s a sudden rule change.

Establish a routine

Dogs, like a lot of humans, like having a routine and knowing what to expect. This is especially true of a dog who has had to cope with a lot of unpredictability in the past. For this reason, it’s great to get into a routine for feeding, walking, playtime and bedtime. This provides your dog with a sense of stability and security which is a great starting point for training.

Find out what your dog already knows

Some dogs in shelters are already very well-trained, whereas others might not even have been schooled in the basics. Chat to the shelter about exactly where on the spectrum your dog falls. This means you’ll have realistic expectations about whether you’re just keeping up good habits or whether there’s more fundamental work to be done.

Get training

Successful training is all about positive reinforcement. Simply put this just means a reward or reinforcer (such as a treat, praise or anything your dogs likes) is offered when the dog exhibits a desired behaviour. If you are offering treats, make sure they’re healthy ones. PEDIGREE has a range of treats that can help your training journey – they are low in fat and contain Omega 3, Vitamin E and calcium. Our Tasty Mini range are the perfect training treats.

Training sessions should be fun for both the teacher and the student! Pick somewhere quiet where there aren’t any distractions and be clear about what you want to achieve before you begin. Short regular sessions are best, otherwise you risk your dog feeling overwhelmed.

Consider a training class

If your new dog needs quite a lot of help in the training department and budget allows, you might want to consider an training class. It’s worth checking with the shelter you adopted from too as a number of them offer classes.

Don’t forget positive socialisation 

Coming into your home will require your dog to get used to a whole new set of people, other animals and environments. For some this is easy-peasy but for others it’s more challenging. Don’t miss out article on Socialisation: Taking on the world one paw at a time.

And finally…

Just like humans, each dog is an individual so let your furry friend set the pace when it comes to training. Some will take it like the proverbial duck to water, others will need a little longer. But with lots of love and patience, you’ll get there.

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