I get this question often. “ My dog is 5 years old, can he still learn new things”. My answer to this is usually yes or it depends. The problem with an old dog learning “new tricks “ isnt what you think. Most people think its because a dog is stuck in their ways. I disagree. The reason why its hard to teach an old dog has to do with 2 things. Their motivation level and their physical fitness. Let’s talk about each one.
You ever notice how when you have a puppy how food motivated they are. Thats because their bodies are growing. They even like playing with toys or having you chase them around the yard. This is not the case with an older though. They don’t want to play. It requires too much energy that they don’t want to expend because they might not be in the best shape. They also don’t care about food sometimes besides eating their meal. SO when you try to give them a treat they are not willing to do anything to get it. Its almost an attitude of “ I seen it all and done it all, so that doesn’t impress me”. I actually think its funny how older dogs will sometimes just give up in the middle of training because they become seemingly uninterested.
Older dogs also take a lot of naps like puppies do. The only difference is that puppies seem energized from their nap while older dogs seem to have only a tiny bit more energy than they had laying down. That brings me to the next part.
As I mentioned before your older dog might not have the physical fitness energy. They also might have arthritis like us humans. As dogs get older they develop all type of physical problems such as hip dysplasia and arthritis. This makes it harder to teach any dog new behaviors. If I tell a dog to lay down and it takes her 10 minutes to lay down because she of the arthritis, then how do I know when the dog is being disobedient. I cant. So its a waste of time for me to try it. I speak from experience. I have a 12 year pit bull that has joint problems and is on supplements. Any time she is down stairs with me in the basement, I have to life her up the stairs to take her out the door. Therefore, I dont do anything with her. I let her be. She doesn’t have to sit, down roll over, none of that. She lived her life and I want her to enjoy her later years. By the way I don’t train any dogs over the age of 10 years. Thats just my feelings, but if a dog works for me for 10 years I will not require anything after that. The only time I train a dog older than 10 years old is if the dog is a danger to himself or to others.
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