How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

If you want to train a dog, no matter what their age, then you need to do something different while training the dog.

It’s also important that people around you copy this training to ensure your dog doesn’t get confused. If your dog attends doggy day care, make sure the staff follows through with the new training too.

Here are 5 basic tips for training a dog to learn new behavior.

1. Establish yourself as the pack leader

If your dog takes no notice of you when you ask them to follow a command, it’s crucial to establish that you are the pack leader, before you start training. Why? Establishing yourself as the pack leader enables your dog to trust you. When they trust you, they will be more likely to do something when you ask them to do it.

Think of it as having a child. If your child looks up to you because they know you make decisions for them, they will be more likely to listen to you when you ask them to do something. For example, when cooking, you tell your child not to touch a hot stove top because it will hurt, and the child trusts you, chances are your child takes your warning and directions seriously.

If when the child couldn’t care less about what you have to say, there’s a good chance they will touch the burning stove because the child thinks they know what’s best.

So lesson one, always make sure your dog knows you’re the decision maker aka pack leader.

2. Don’t lose control of the environment

While teaching your dog a new command, it’s so important to ensure the environment you’re teaching it is a controlled setting. It’s your responsibility to assist your dog to make the right decision. For example, you may have a dog that barks at people walking past your house. You don’t like this behavior, so you want to train your dog to stop barking.

Despite the facts you want to change this behavior, its summer outside, and you want to leave your windows open to let the fresh air into your home. So in this case, distract your dog with toys or hide their view from the window. You can even try spraying water in your dog’s face with a little squirt bottle.

Do whatever you need to do to keep control of your dog while you are teaching a behavior, by keeping control of the environment.

And over time, your dog will learn that they aren’t allowed bark at people walking past.

3. Treats

Dogs need more than just a bribe while training, however, treats can certainly motivate a dog to learn a new skill.

So use treats and then fades them out later over time as your dog gets the hang of the new action. Also, keep in mind that different foods may trigger different behaviors. The tastier the treat the more your dog will want it.

For example, if your dog escapes and gets out of the house, a piece of kibble may not be enough to make them listen and come back to you. However, the tasty treat tin will grab their attention and motivate your dog to come back inside.

4. Winner

We should continually be looking for ways to set up our dogs to win when they are being trained.

For example, if you’re trying to break the habit of your dog raiding your garbage bin, it’s no good leaving the leftover lamb chop bones in the trash. It’s just too tempting for your dog, especially when they have not learned that the trash is off limits.

Keep it easy and keep it simple when starting out.

5. And the finish

This may even be as simple as finishing your training session on a basic recall or finishing the walk with a tasty treat. When you do this, you always leave a training session feeling happy, and your dog will finish the session a willing to learn.

Remember a dog needs 3 things – discipline, affection and exercise.

Happy dog, happy you.

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