The Puppy Training Podcast

Episode #62 Training An Older Dog

October 02, 2020 Baxter & Bella Puppy Training Season 2 Episode 62
The Puppy Training Podcast
Episode #62 Training An Older Dog
Show Notes Transcript

Can an older dog be trained? 

It is always a good idea to start training a puppy but if you find yourself in the position of needing to train an older dog, do not worry. It is never too late to train a dog. 



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Training Older Dogs

Can an older dog be trained? 

It is always a good idea to start training a puppy but if you find yourself in the position of needing to train an older dog, do not worry. It is never too late to train a dog.


What are the advantages to training an older dog?

Longer attention span - training can last longer in each session

Ability to focus is better than a puppy’s

Joints are fully developed - longer walks, jogging & other activities - no restrictions

May already know the basics 

May know how to learn - depends on their background and what training they’ve had already - free shaping? Marker training? 

May be familiar with human language - at least good dog, yes, no

Housetraining may be done 

Often excited to be with you and get attention from training


Possible Disadvantages

May have some habits that need to be changed

The difficulty of this will depend on how long the habits have been practiced

For example…

  • Dog who jumps on people 
    • seven year old dog who always jumps on guests and has since they were a puppy
    • Change reaction to a person approaching
    • Management first. It helps prevent the behavior from being practiced - this is step one. Make a goal from today - no more jumping on people. Quit cold turkey. As we work to train a sit stay, use the leash to prevent it from happening. 
      • Stand on the middle of the leash, hold the handle in one hand; make sure your dog can sit, stand or lie down comfortably, but couldn’t jump if they tried.
    • Teach your dog to sit stay instead
    • Practice by tethering your dog to a sofa or solid table leg
      • Start walking to your dog
      • If you dog stays in a sit, you can keep walking; if your dog gets up you go back to start
      • Repeat until your dog can stay in a sit until you reach them, feed a treat and leave


  • Dog who barks at mailman - 
    • Four year old dog who always barks when the mailman pulls up and doesn’t stop until he disappears; this started in adolescence
    • Change reaction to the mailman approaching 
    • Management first. It helps prevent the behavior from being practiced - this is step one. Make a goal from today - no more barking at the mailman. Quit cold turkey. As we work to train a go to bed behavior, prevent your dog’s access to the outside window - close blinds, use a gate to block off the room, etc. Be creative!
    • Teach your dog to come find you instead.
    • Practice by setting up sessions when you know the mailman will be driving by. If your dog barks at any car that passes, ask a friend to help you set up practice times - your friend can drive a car past multiple times in one session. 
      • With your dog on leash, hang out in the front room with the window accessible
      • The second our dog sees the car/mailman, immediately put a high value yummy smelling food reward on his nose and lure him to you. 
      • Encourage a sit when he gets to you then reward! 
      • Right away, engage him in a game or activity away from the window.
      • Repeat until your dog will come find you on his own when he sees a car passing. 
      • Make it easy - be in the same room 1-2 feet away - we want your dog to start looking at you on his own when he sees a car/mailman.
      • Then as he gets faster at looking at you (5 out of 5 successes) push to 3-4 feet away, then 6-10 feet away, then you are in a different room, and so forth.
      • Repeat until you can be anywhere in your house and your dog comes running to you. Be sure to pay attention to him when he finds you - really reward his great efforts! 


  • Dog who pulls on leash - 
    • 2 year old dog who pulls on leash - they’ve learned pulling gets them where they want to go
    • Change the pulling into attention- this helps your dog walk nicely by your side
    • Management first. It helps prevent the behavior from being practiced - this is step one. Make a goal from today - never follow a pulling puppy (or dog). Quit cold turkey. As we work to train loose leash walking, be consistent. Your dog only gets to go forward where they want if the leash is loose. If it is tight, we freeze. 
      • I like to wait for my dog to look at me before moving forward. 
    • Teach your dog to walk with a loose leash instead. 
    • Practice by starting with getting attention outside. 
      • With your dog on leash, wait for them to look at you.
      • When they do, mark YES and toss a food reward to the side -several feet away from you.
      • Wait for your dog to look at you. 
      • When they do, mark YES and toss a food reward to the other side (or the same side - mix it up) several feet away from you.
      • Wait for your dog to look at you.
      • When they do, mark YES and toss the next food reward. 
      • Repeat until your dog is getting faster and faster and looking at you because they’ve learned doing so gets them food. 
      • Next step is to start moving with them. 
        • Reward them as they move with you.
        • Wait to walk forward until they look at you.
        • Repeat until your puppy is moving along with you but also paying pretty good attention.
      • Build up to longer and longer walks.
      • Remember - never follow a pulling puppy. Keep that leash loose and be very consistent about it.
      • Hold your thumb in your pant pocket so you don’t give them extra length with your arm extending. This will help you stop the second you feel leash tension.


Key to success?

Motivation

  1. Find something your dog loves to do and use that to train good or better behavior
    1. Fetch, frisbee, scent games, agility 


Cooperation - listen to what your dog communicates to you - they want to play? Take 5 minutes and go do something fun together. They want to lounge and not be disturbed - let them relax peacefully and don’t force interaction. Help them trust you.


Dogs do what works for them. Teach them you pay well for things you ask them to do and build in them a desire to train & work. Have fun with them! Don’t force issues if it’s a bad day - they aren’t feeling well - you aren’t feeling well. It is okay to take breaks. It is okay to go back to the basics of dog training and start over!