From TV sitcoms to dramas, fantasy paperbacks to bio-epic best sellers, the assertion that old dogs can’t learn new tricks is one of the oldest in record, often metaphorically positioned with senior citizen husbands incapable of catching up with the signs of the times, as old matrons can’t fathom the concept behind a working woman of today.
But, contrary to the number of times the metaphor has been used, reused and overused, you CAN teach old dogs new tricks – they are just more challenging to teach.
Given that dogs develop their unique personalities as they’re growing, whatever trends and practices they get when they’re still puppies stays until they grow older. Take for example a particular pup’s liability to be fearful or afraid, an attribute which tends to stick as pup grows older.
By implementing conditioned stimulus-training strategies AND a lot of patience, cowardly pups can learn to deal with situations with more grace and decorum expected from braver, tougher dogs.
Understanding the reward and punishment system that is unique for older dogs also helps them learn new tricks, doing away with calling them over just to be punished, and enforcing stricter acumens for rewards if ever a dog stops barking or making a mess in the living room.
Dogs are always eager to learn, given the proper understanding and care put into teaching them.
Consistent teachers have to understand one of the teaching profession’s most basic rule – start where your students are – and should be very patient with their wards.
Don’t just give up on teaching your dog just because he/she is old.
You CAN still teach old dogs new tricks.