Teaching an old dog new tricks

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.

Motivation level

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.

Physical fitness

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.

Also look out for my youtube channel coming soon.

5 ways you must know to manage your dog in your home

Bella….. Get over here…… Oh my gosh!!! …..You tore up my new shoes again…. And my phone charger!!!

This is what I witnessed one client saying when I just arrived to do a consultation with them. I was just soaking it all in so that I could see what was fully going on. After walking around their house I noticed that there were several ways that they could of lived with their dog successfully. Here is the list of those things for you guys to get started.

1.Dog proof your home

You should do this immediately when you get that wild crazy puppy or adopted adult dog. What I mean by dog proof is that you shouldn’t have any extension cords, phone chargers, sneakers, etc lying around where the dog can get into trouble. Just like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. If they never learn to chew on those new pair of boots you brought then they will not be accustomed to doing that behavior.

There are benefits to this though. Your home will be less messy. Chewed up objects with dog slob makes your home look destructive and unclean. When guest come over you don’t want them to feel uneasy about coming over because of the mess the dogs created. Of course you don’t want a clean home for your self too.

There is another benefit of this also. If you dog proof your home it is less likely that Bella will chew on something she is not supposed to. This will decrease your chance of a late night visit to one of the emergency animal hospitals such as Blue Pearl in NY. Those visits can be costly believe me.

I witness someone have to spend $3,000 all because their dog received a foreign body from chewing an object which might have been a baby pacifier.

2. Crate your dog

Some people feel bad when they put their dog in a small crate. Im here to tell you that the dog feeds off your energy. If you make a big fuss then so will she. You have to first introduce your dog to the crate.

Start by playing crate games- You throw food inside, the dog runs in and eats the treat then runs back out. It is much better in the beginning to be patient and allow the dog to enter on her free will and enjoy the experience. Do not close the door behind the dog when she enters the crate. Let her have the freedom to go back and forth.

After a while start closing the door behind her for 2 seconds then letting her out. It is important to increase the time over a period of days. Once she is able to stay in there leave her in there periodically as you walk around the house. The last step is to leave the house and keep the dog in the crate. It is important to take this process slow so she doesn’t become a nervous wreck in the crate.

Warning: Do not punish your dog by putting them in the crate if they pooped on the carpet or peed on the living room floor. Doing so turns the crate into a bad place which we aretrying to prevent.

3. Threshold

This just means that every time you and your dog walk through a doorway they have to stop first and acknowledge you. Dogs that are pushy will just run through without paying you much attention. Sometimes a dog needs a prong collar to feel some pressure to stop.( We will go through more about this in the next section.).

The process works like this: You walk up to doorway with dog, dog stops and acknowledges you by looking at you, and you give her the ok to walk through the doorway. This is how it works with training in a perfect world. When you first try this what is likely to happen is: You walk up to the doorway with your dog, she instantly run through before you can say sit, and you are frustrated because she is doing whatever she wants and not listening to you.

To make it simple think about it like this: You don’t give her what she wants until she complies with what you ask.

You might think this is limited to food but it can also be access to outside or another area or a toy. I guarentee that this most likely will not be easy for some of the big powerful breeds, but its worth it. Consistency is key. After a while , she will just realize that this is life and I have to look at my handler for advice.

4. Have your dog on the leash in the home

There is a saying that says, “ if you don’t have mental control of your dog then you need to have physical control”. Most people think of the leash as an outside tool, which it is. But its real purpose is control. I agree with Cesar Millan when he talks about dogs being in a follower state. Sometimes in order to get them there you have to control every thing they do.

This also helps with the previous section of thresholds because it makes YOU relevent in your dog’s mind. This is not necessary to do forever. This is to establish control in your house so that your dog respects you. I would suggest doing this for 3 weeks. After that your dog should get the picture.

I would suggest you use a flat buckle collar or a slip lead. A prong collar is not necessary as your dog should be less stimulated since there are really no distractions at home for the dog. Some dogs will need a prong collar because they are so strong and charged up which makes it difficult for them to listen.

5.Having boundaries

This is very important and often neglected by many dog owners. But not you. Im sure you are going to set up boundaries in your house for your dog. These boundaries include specific areas that the dog is allowed to go in. For instance, my dog has his bed in the hallway. This is his designated area. He is not allowed upstairs or in my room unless he is invited. Certain areas of the house he is never allowed to go in.

The more strict you are with her early one the more freedom you can give her later on without fearing she will take advantage.

This is the learn to earn method. Your dog learns that everything they get must be earned. This is extremely empowering to your dog and gives them control of whether they get what they want.

These 5 are all foundational. You need to be implementing this ASAP. Don’t wait until little bella decides to try your patients. This is just management so that no bad behaviors develop. If you want a well behaved dog you have to not only encourage good behaviors, but also prevent bad behaviors from being created and practiced.

If you have any questions you can email me at