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November 12, 2014

PetSafe® Expert

Jim Tedford

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

dog training tipsDon’t forget that it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. While puppyhood is the most important time to teach new habits, the second most important time is now. The methods used to teach an adult dog are the same ones used for puppies. It will just take more time and patience to train an older dog.

Some people might think that training their adult dog to do a new behavior is a frustrating waste of time. However, dogs love learning new things no matter how old they are. Also, teaching them new things keeps them busy and out of trouble.

Plus teaching a new behavior to your dog will help strengthen the bond between the two of you, and will increase his ability to learn other new behaviors. It’s fun too!

Consider working on practical skills such as people manners, loose leash walking, stay, coming when called, and leave it. Or, you can teach him a fun trick like how to balance a treat on his nose, shake, speak, or crawl on his belly. The possibilities are endless!

Once you decide what you’d like your dog to learn it’s time to figure out how best to train him. Do you take him to a class, hire a trainer, or teach him at home? Here are a few options for training an old dog new tricks.

Group Classes

A training class can be beneficial because both you and your dog get to interact with other class participants. Socializing with other dogs and people can help build your dog’s confidence. Group classes can also help your dog learn how to concentrate and focus even with many distractions.

Before you sign up, be sure to attend some group classes in your area and ask some of the participants what they think about the class. Are they enjoying themselves? Do they feel their training needs and goals are being met? Does it look like the dogs are having fun?

Private Trainer

A private trainer can come to your house or you can go to their training facility. The main benefit to hiring a private trainer is the customized training you will receive based on your dog’s temperament and lifestyle. The more personalized the attention, the greater the cost.

A private trainer will notice any subtle mistakes you make while working with your dog and help you to correct them. Some trainers have programs where you may drop off your dog, and he will be taught skills and behaviors by the trainer. Caution: some dogs are not able to apply these new skills and behaviors once they return to their home environment. The dog may have established a different relationship with his trainer than the one with his owner. He knows what to expect from the trainer but often does not understand what his owner wants him to do.


There are many books and videos that can help you train your dog without the assistance of professionals. There is nothing more rewarding than learning how to communicate with your dog. And you just might find that your dog teaches you a thing or two!

Some people are afraid that they might make mistakes while training their dog. But that’s just a part of the learning process. By teaching him new tricks and behaviors, you will quickly learn how best to teach your dog. It will build your confidence and strengthen your relationship.

It’s relatively easy to train their friend to pass through a newly installed pet door. Your command to come when called can be strengthened with a signal from a remote training collar. And with pet proofing products, dogs can be “self-taught” to stay off expensive furniture or stay out of certain rooms.

Remember that “training” is not just a certain period of time that you set aside to work with your dog. Training happens all the time. Your dog is learning every second he’s awake, whether you are there or not!

Written by

Jim Tedford

Jim Tedford

PetSafe® Shelter Advocate

PetSafe® Expert

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