Category: Marissa Corbett Shamong NJ

Training Older Dogs: It’s Never Too Late to Learn


Many dog owners believe that training is only for puppies, but the truth is, older dogs are just as capable of learning new tricks and behaviors. Training an older dog might require a bit more patience and understanding, but it’s entirely possible and can be incredibly rewarding. This blog from Marissa Corbett of Shamong, NJ, explores how you can successfully train your senior canine friend, proving that it’s never too late to learn.

Understanding the Older Dog

Before diving into training, it’s important to understand the unique needs and limitations of older dogs. They might have less energy and a shorter attention span compared to a younger dog. They could also be dealing with age-related issues like reduced vision, hearing, or cognitive function. Patience and empathy are key.

Benefits of Training Older Dogs

Training an older dog isn’t just about teaching them new commands or tricks; it can also improve their mental health and vitality. It helps keep their brain active, which is especially important for preventing cognitive decline. Training also strengthens the bond between you and your dog, enhancing mutual trust and understanding.

Getting Started with Training

  1. Health Check: Before starting any training program, have your dog checked by a vet to ensure they’re healthy enough for training, and to understand any limitations they might have.
  2. Start with the Basics: Begin with simple commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, or ‘come’. This helps gauge their level of understanding and responsiveness.
  3. Use Positive Reinforcement: Reward good behavior with treats, praise, or play. Positive reinforcement is effective and builds a more enjoyable learning experience.
  4. Keep Sessions Short: Older dogs can tire easily, so keep training sessions short and sweet, around 10-15 minutes to avoid fatigue.
  5. Be Consistent: Consistency is key in any form of training. Stick to the same commands and reward system to avoid confusing your dog.
  6. Adapt to Their Pace: Every dog is different. Adapt your training to match your dog’s pace and ability. If they have trouble with a particular command, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps.

Overcoming Challenges

Training an older dog might come with its set of challenges. They might be set in their ways, making it harder to break old habits. Be patient and persistent. It’s important to recognize and respect their limits. If they seem stressed or uninterested, give them a break and try again later.

Advanced Training and Mental Stimulation

Once your dog has mastered the basics, you can move on to more advanced commands or even tricks. This not only adds variety but also provides mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and games that require problem-solving can also be beneficial for keeping their mind sharp.

Socialization and Exercise

Socialization is just as important for older dogs as it is for puppies. It helps them stay mentally stimulated and can improve their confidence. Similarly, regular exercise is important for their physical health, but be mindful of their endurance levels.

Dealing with Behavioral Issues

If your older dog has behavioral issues, it’s not too late to address them. Training can help manage problems like excessive barking, chewing, or even aggression. In some cases, consulting with a professional dog trainer or a behaviorist might be necessary.

Celebrating Successes

Every small victory is worth celebrating. Whether it’s mastering a new command or just showing improvement in behavior, positive reinforcement and praise can boost your dog’s confidence and enjoyment in training.

Training an older dog requires patience, understanding, and a lot of love. Remember that progress might be slower, but it’s just as satisfying. Training is not just about obedience; it’s about enriching your dog’s golden years, enhancing your bond, and ensuring they remain active and engaged. So, grab some treats, keep your expectations realistic, and enjoy this special time with your senior companion. It truly is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

Training a Dog to Walk on Heel — and More

Dogs will always be man’s best friend, but sometimes they don’t act like it.

No matter the breed, some form of consistent training is usually required to make sure they behave properly. Well, most of the time.

Marissa Corbett of Shamong, NJ discusses three of the most popular training approaches that encompass canine behavioral must-haves: heeling, coming when called, and leash manners. Here’s how to get started:

Walking on Heel

Walking on heel is a great skill to instill in a dog, especially for one who is very active. Heeling while walking refers to having a dog keep pace with their owner, next to them instead of in front or behind. It also involves having a dog stop whenever an owner stops.

The environment matters here. Start slow, perhaps inside the house where there is ample space to walk freely (keep some treats handy). Owners should indicate which side the dog should walk on.

When called and the dog comes to one’s preferred side, offer a treat. This may take a couple of repeated tries. Practice walking and stopping, and especially take breaks whenever a dog moves behind or gets too far ahead.

Consistency is key. Make eye contact and repeatedly indicate the space a dog should be in at any time. Go slowly, when they behave correctly, offer praises. Every few steps a dog takes that is in stride with an owner should be rewarded.

Come When Called

Teaching a dog to come when called is likely at the top of any owner’s behavior training list. It comes in handy throughout the life of every dog and can be critical for their safety.

Lessons on coming when called also begin with an incentive. A toy a small treat will work wonders when practicing this skill.

This training involves a bit of activity from the trainer. After the first successful “come,” run away a few feet and then start again, urging the dog to come to your new location.

When they come, reward them. Repeat the process but go a little further each time until it becomes easy to get a dog to come when they are in another room or come when they are in the backyard but need to come inside.

Marissa Corbett Shamong NJ

Leash Manners

Nothing can be as frustrating to a dog owner as constant leash pulling. Some dogs never get over it. But there is something that can be done about it.

Walking properly on a leash begins with introducing a dog to what it all entails. Show a dog not just the leash but the collar and have them try it on for size before even going out for walks, letting them gradually become comfortable.

It also helps to connect a collar and a leash to food or fun. Play with them while wearing a collar or give them a treat as the leash is attached.

Once a dog is comfortable on a leash inside, it’s time to move outdoors. Practicing walking on a leash for a short amount of time in an area they are familiar with; either a yard or a driveway will do. It’s important to ensure you and your dog are in the right mindset for this transition. Setting clear intentions and expectations for you and your dog and always ending on a positive note is key.

As for leash pulling? It will be something that takes the longest to get over, and even after training, a dog may excitedly pull on leash when entering a new terrain. However, a dog owner should stand firm — literally. When a dog is pulling, stop moving, and stand still until the yanking stops. Give verbal commands, such as “come” or “heel”. Teaching your best furry friend these three most important behaviors is important to a happy, polite life with your dog.