Teaching An Older Pet Dog Tricks

By Jean Cote | Posts

The Englishman John Fitzherbert is credited for first putting into print the popular saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” in his book “The Boke of Husbandry,” published in 1534. In the book, Fitzherbert originally wrote “The dogge must lerne it, whan he is a whelpe, or els it will not be: for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.”

Now this begs the question that most pet owners ask, which is whether their fine furried friend can indeed learn dog tricks even if they are way past puppyhood.


Most trainers often advise pet owners to train their dogs even before they reach their first year. This is primarily because at this stage, the personality and demeanor of a dog is still malleable and not yet fully set, thus making them perfect for dog training.

Indeed, once a dog reaches full maturity, you cannot do much with regards to changing its unique personality. For example, you cannot change a dog from being anxious and fearful into a confident and friendly dog. However, you can teach your pet to modify its behavior and response to particular situations.

Whether you are training a puppy or an older dog, consistency is the key to success. In training a dog, whether you want it to simply come when it is called or if you would like it to perform more advanced tricks like rolling over, the importance of consistency cannot be overstated.

Pet training is all about reinforcing the behavior you want from your pet, be it a puppy or slightly older. To get it to perform a trick, you have to reward it for obeying and responding to your command through a special, irresistible treat. As you continue to reward your pet every time it performs according to your bidding, it will soon associate good behavior and performing tricks with getting a reward, thus reinforcing your training. It is also a good idea to immediately give the pet a reward after it is done performing.

This technique is also helpful in modifying unwanted behavior like excessive barking or soiling themselves anywhere they please inside the house.

But apart from making your pet a hit at parties because of its ability to entertain with tricks, dog training offers another advantage to both you and your pet. For your pet, it offers an opportunity to stimulate the mind, thus making him more alert and mentally agile. As for you, dog training provides an opportunity for you to improve your bond with your pet.

About the Author

Jean Cote is an animal lover and the founder of the Dog Trick Academy. For more than a decade, he has served as a coach to thousands of dog owners around the world to better train, communicate and forge a stronger bond with their dog using positive and force-free training methods.