Training a dog isn’t just for fun. Sure, your pooch giving paw and rolling over on command will impress your friends, but training isn’t only about that. With a trained dog, you can be sure they won’t run away, pee on the living room carpet, or chew your favorite pair of shoes. But when is it too late to train a dog?
You’re most likely familiar with the saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But is it entirely true? Is there a threshold after which it becomes impossible to train a dog? Read our guide to find out.
When’s the Best Time for Dog Training?
Of course, there are things dogs should learn when they’re still puppies. It’s easier to prevent a bad habit from forming in your dog, than trying to correct it later on.
However, dogs don’t only learn when they’re young — dogs can learn new things at any age. The training may become more difficult and take longer with adult or old dogs, but it’s not impossible. Even senior dogs can understand the concept of receiving a reward after performing a certain task. Some may learn even faster as their attention span isn’t as short as in puppies.
Puppies interiorize new experiences as soon as they’re born. When they open their eyes and start walking, you can teach them simple commands. Don’t expect them to learn how to sit immediately. Not until they’re around two months old, will they start to show obedience. These first, simple commands typically refer to “stay” or “sit,” which they’ll learn pretty quickly.
You’ll typically do this type of training by using the food-lure method. It means you’ll lure the puppy with a treat when you want them to sit or move. You’ll reward them with said treat whenever they repeat the desired task. You need to be consistent if you want the training to work, but be aware that it will take some time. Patience will be your best ally during the training period.
After a while, your puppy will learn that a treat follows a certain word or specific command. That’s how puppies “learn words” and associate the repetition of activities to earning a treat. This association may become so strong that sometimes your pooch will give paw when they see a treat, even before you issue the command itself.
What Kinds of Trainings are There?
There are different kinds of dog training and their priority depends on what conditions the dog lives in.
For instance, house training should definitely be done when your furry friend is still a puppy. It has benefits both for you and the dog. If you’re planning to keep your dog inside, the sooner you undertake house training, the less you’ll have to clean up. Now, you might be wondering — when is it too late to train a dog to pee outside? The good news is, even older dogs that have never lived inside before can learn.
However, socializing is easier with young dogs. According to experts, you should socialize your puppy up to 16 weeks old.
Obedience training is also important and it’s easier to do it while the dog is very young. This is because it’s easier to teach a dog a new mode of behavior than to modify and correct bad behavior.
What are the Benefits of Training Your Dog?
Training your dog can bring numerous benefits.
When you devote a large portion of your time to your dog, you cement the bonds between you. Your dog will perceive the training as playtime, even though they’re learning. You know it’s training, but for them, it’s just more time with you. And treats!
Training will, therefore, make your dog happier and you’ll establish more mutual trust. It will also provide more freedom for your dog (when you’re outside, for instance). This applies to you as well. As you’ll be able to leave your dog home alone for hours without worrying whether they’ll destroy your living room furniture!
With proper training, your dog will also learn to socialize with other dogs. It will make your pooch happier and healthier in every sense. Most of all physically, because you probably aren’t prepared to run around after them every day. Your dog needs to expel excess energy. In addition, it will prevent anxiety and restlessness and allow your dog to sleep more peacefully.
Adult and senior dogs can experience even more benefits from training. So, when someone asks – when is it too late to train a dog, the answer is never. Not only is it possible, but it’s also recommended to stimulate your dog mentally as they get older.
When Do I Need a Professional Dog Trainer?
There are some behaviors that might require professional help. If you’re having trouble with training or retraining your pup, there’s nothing wrong with asking for advice. A professional may help you reach your goals faster and start living a happier life with your pet.
For example, if your pooch is showing aggression towards people or other dogs, you may need help. If your dog has a sudden change in behavior when a baby visits your home, it may be the time to contact a dog trainer. Even if you’re just trying to do basic obedience training or teach your dog simple commands, a professional trainer can share some techniques you didn’t know about.
Yes, You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
When is it too late to train a dog? As stated above, there isn’t an age limit here. Although puppy training is easier and gets you better results, it’s possible to train an older dog.
Even if you’re not 100% successful, the process of training older dogs is mutually beneficial. You’ll not only make the bond between you even greater, but help your furry friend feel cheerful even though they’ve reached old age.
Training isn’t only about learning new tricks; it’s also about affection and companionship.