You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

So, admittedly, the adage about teaching old dogs new tricks has nothing to do with dogs, but every old chestnut starts somewhere, so no doubt someone observed at some point that older dogs can’t learn things the way young pups can.

There is a little bit of truth to this — older dogs have physical and mental limitations that younger dogs don’t have — but it should by no means dissuade you from making the effort.

One of the biggest challenges with older dogs is engagement. Often they lose interest in games they used to play, so the key is to come up with new ways of grabbing their interest. If, even in your dog’s older years, you let them come to associate, say, learning to shake hands with a treat or other form of praise, you’ll be surprised how willing they are to work with you.

Bear in mind that it might take older dogs longer to catch on than pups, but be patient. Studies have shown that dogs who have periodic changes in their routines — including learning new tricks — tend to have less mental degradation in their later years, so there’s no reason to wait until your dog is older to teach them new tricks. The time is now!

For more than 20 years, Willard Veterinary Clinic has provided dedicated veterinary care for the communities of Quincy, Boston, Dorchester, Milton, Braintree, Weymouth, Canton, Randolph, Hingham, Abington, Hanover, and Rockland. Contact us to see why we’re different!

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