Hardly a week goes by without a well-meaning dog owner reaches out, asking: “Is my dog too old for dog obedience school?” If you’re asking this question, allow us to put your mind at ease; if your dog is young enough to see you, enjoy food, and get around, it’s not at all too late!
You may have recently adopted an older dog, or you may have training goals for a pet you’ve had since his puppyhood. Either way, there’s no reason to avoid enrolling a dog of any age at All Dogs Unleashed obedience school.
In fact, we’ve noticed that there can be a few perks to training an older dog. Your dog probably has at least some understanding of a few basic commands, has an attention span longer than when he was younger, and has had ample time to pick up at a minimum the basics of common human language.
Additionally, older dogs are often praised for their sweet, gentle temperaments. Once the wild impulses of puppyhood have faded, dogs can be somewhat easier to work with. In their older years, even dogs like labs and terriers—both breeds noted for their energetic dispositions—settle down once they’re closer to five years of age.
If you wish to enroll a dog that’s truly a senior pup (an age that varies by breed, so ask your vet!), make sure your dog is healthy enough for the activities and skills you’d like him to learn. If your aging dog has arthritis or mild cognitive decline, let us know. We can devise an adaptive training approach that will allow you to work with your dog – even with his limitations.
The biggest challenge we face when working with older dogs emerges when it’s necessary to undo bad habits or improper training approaches. Usually this involves retraining you, the owner.
If this turns out to be the case for you and your dog, please don’t feel badly. Many people make slight errors when teaching their dogs at home. You’re not a professional dog trainer, so it’s understandable that you don’t have perfect technique.
When you enroll your older dog with us at All Dogs Unleashed, consider the “owner” training portion a bonus. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for you to learn the tips and tricks that have helped make our dog training programs incredibly successful year after year.
Of course, there are vital socialization windows that close by the time a dog is 14 weeks of age. By the time your dog is one year old, more opportunities for some of the so-called “easy” training have passed. If your dog has flown by these milestones without experiencing proper training, don’t give up.
Training a dog is like planting a tree. It may have been best to get started years ago, but the next-best time to begin is today.
Luckily, it’s beneficial to start working with your older dog as long as he is able to physically handle training classes. Training an older dog can enhance your pet/owner relationship by:
- Reinforcing your dog’s respect for you
- Creating a number of opportunities for you and your doggo to bond – this is especially helpful if you’ve recently adopted an older canine
- Reminding your aging dog of his purpose, thus staving off depression
- Allowing you to enjoy being around your dog more
- Expanding your dog’s world by making him easier to bring along with you wherever you go!
If you’re ready to begin working with your older dog, contact us today. All Dogs Unleashed is standing by to help with potty training, obedience training, off-leash recall, socialization, and agility training, no matter your dog’s age or existing level of formal training.