Tips and Tricks to Train Older Dogs


Most people think that dogs that no longer fall into the puppy category are set in their ways and are past the point of learning new things.  That is simply not true if you take the proper steps to teach them and are armed with patience.  Even the oldest of dogs are able to be trained to do something they’ve never done before, it’s just a matter of how you, the pet owner, goes about teaching them.

One of the first things you’ll want to keep in mind when training older dogs is that the training needs to be done in a gentle way, while maintaining an authoritative leadership.  Also remember that it may take longer to train an older dog than a puppy, as you may need to start with helping them to unlearn some of the habits they are used to.  As with puppy training, use healthy treats as positive reinforcement and repetitive actions.

Many factors come into play, such as breed, age and state of the dogs health.  If you are trying to train an older adopted dog there is also the issue of an unknown past life which may have left the dog traumatized and fearful.  Being consistent and persistent are two of the attributes that will help you teach the dog these new tricks or habits.

When training your dog, no matter the age, it is important to offer the right kind of treat to get the desired effect.  For example, have three different categories of treats; a category that is most appealing to the dog like small pieces of steak, a category of something dry that is not a usual in their dog bowl like dehydrated apples, and a category of something they like, but is not necessarily a “treat”, like a piece of your dogs food or a carrot.

Use these different treats as motivators in teaching an older dog things such as tricks, house breaking, or boundaries.  No matter the age of a dog, it is possible to teach them new things.  Just remember to be patient, kind, assertive but gentle, and use positive reinforcement.


  1. I recently taught my dog who is 11 to play dead. This is a trick that we’ve tried a few times to get over the years. I got a free clicker and we reviewed the basic commands with the clicker. Once he realized how that worked teaching the new trick went quickly. He had it down in few sessions. Fortunately for me, Roscoe has always been food motivated! He’ll do anything for 2 scooby snacks. LOL! Thanks for posting.

    • What a great story Amanda! Thanks so much for commenting. I bet there are a lot of people out there who would have thought it impossible to teach an 11 year old dog a new trick!

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