As your dog gets older, it does not mean you stop teaching tricks. It only means you should keep him wiser.
His body may be aging and his moods may be changing but as we always say, “Learning is a lifetime process”. That should not be any different for our dogs.
It is not just about learning a few more tricks. Rather, training them even at this later age helps their physical and mental health.
Just as how physicians recommend routine exercise for individuals at their golden years, dogs need to stretch their legs too. Besides, exposing them to new activities make them feel still useful. That is according to Penny Leigh, CPDT-KA of the American Kennel’s Club.
The first step requires you to answer how well you know your dog.
Replay in your mind the timeline of his training years.
How much does he already know? How long does it take for him to master a trick? How about his medical history? Does he suffer from joint pains, arthritis or any other ailment now? How much does he weigh now?
You have to know the answer for these questions as well as similar other concerns to put up the most convenient training program for your senior dog. If you know how much he learned and how fast he can pick up, you will know what routines you can use as your starting point.
If you know his medical conditions, you can set the limitations to the training. For example, if he is arthritic, you should not give him activities that require too much and sudden joint bending.
Consult your vet.
It is always safest to ask guidance from experts. This is in addition to the first step.
You can know more about your dog and how to carry the training program through if you seek professional help, especially when dealing with the level of strenuousness of the activities.
Take it slow and keep it short.
Do not forget the fact that you are training a senior dog.
Be as considerate and patient as you can be.
Do not go rushing him with things and putting too much in his shoulders than he can bear. Do not go thinking that he did it when he was young, therefore, he can do it now that he is old.
Being in their state, they are prone to fatigue and joint strain. You can start with around 30 minutes of training time daily. Also, you should include some stretching to warm them up before the training proper.
You definitely don’t talk dog. So to communicate, you have to use hand or verbal signals.
You can use both for proper enactment. Also, using both signals is highly recommended by experts because at the same time you may be training your dog for future unfortunate events.
Your dog may soon lose his senses. If he goes blind, he will be comfortable with verbal signals. If he becomes deaf, he knows his hand signs.
Reward him for a job well done.
Many have proven how effective positive reinforcement is. After finishing the activities of the day and he cooperated and performed well, give him treats.
Maybe hand him his favorite toy, give him the belly scrub he loves or fill his bowl with a good meal. Just be careful on giving him food treats because you have to consider his diet.
Being a senior dog, there are foods already restricted from his meals. However, if he did not act out very well during the training, do not punish him. Just don’t give him a treat and soon enough he will know just when he did well or not.
Lastly, take this time as an opportunity to bond with your dog. Do not let the years take the fun away. And you will see you may just have improved your dog-owner relationship.