The old cliché says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but with patience, confidence and repetition, training adult dogs can be a fun and rewarding task for the owners and the animals. At animal shelters, senior dogs are often euthanized because they aren't wanted but, with training, all dogs of any age or breed can be a great addition to the home.
10 Tips for Training Adult Dogs
- Praise, praise, praise - Use treats, verbal praise and petting to praise a dog that exhibits correct behavior. When a dog has followed a command and is calm and relaxed, offer some sort of treat or positive encouragement to reinforce good habits with rewards. Only offer rewards immediately after good behavior or the dog will not understand why he is getting a treat.
- Never hit a dog - Using physical violence is never the answer to a dog that is misbehaving. Not only is this painful to the animal but can trigger aggression and make bad habits even worse.
- Start with basic commands like you would with a puppy such as sit, stay, come and down.
- Be consistent - Continue obedience training each day and stay with your chosen method rather than switching around so you don't confuse the dog. Also, be consistent with the commands you use but never repeat command words. If you're dog doesn't listen to 'sit' the first time, don't repeat the word. Instead, try again later until he learns the command and offer a treat when he performs correctly.
- Stay calm - A calm but firm owner will reduce anxiety and fear in many dogs and also communicate clearly and efficiently.
- Keep family members committed: Dedication is essential when it comes to teaching an older dog obedience training. If you are committed to the right behavior but your family members are letting the dog run wild, all of your time and energy may be wasted. Guests should also be aware of any rules for your dog, like a ban on table scraps or jumping on couches, to prevent any bad habits from continuing.
- Make time - Dedicate at least 15 minutes every day to dog training. An adult dog has a longer attention span than a new puppy and will enjoy dog training periods for lengthier stretches of time.
- Stay active - Exercise is a great outlet for an energetic dog and may prevent him from becoming distracted if he's had a chance to run around and play before training.
- Walking - This is one great way to keep a dog active and stimulated. Stay in control by using a short leash and starting out with small walks until the dog is behaved and comfortable on the leash.
- Classes - Consider signing up for a dog obedience class. These are usually offered for all types and ages of dogs and are a great way to socialize your dog while also training him.