Become The Alpha Dog

Training Older Dogs – The Easy, Effective Way

When you hear of someone of getting a new dog you probably think of a puppy. But with the growing trend towards adopting dogs from shelters, it’s just as likely these days that the new dog will be an adolescent, or even an adult dog.

As a dog lover, I applaud this trend and hope that it continues to gain momentum, but it does create some new problems. The main one is the behaviour and temperament of the adopted dog. With a puppy you know what you’re getting, with an older dog behaviours are already ingrained and may include serious problems, like aggression.

In many cases, the dog soon finds himself back at the pound, and the owner is left with guilt and regret. But it doesn’t have to come to this because, with the right method, consistently applied, just about any dog can be trained.

But before you get down to training an older dog there are two ideas you need to get out of your head. Firstly, get rid of the notion that you should pity the dog.

It’s a sad reflection on our society that many of these dogs have been beaten, mistreated and abused, but unfortunately you can’t change that. What you can do is provide love, care and affection. You can show them that not all humans are like those that have hurt them. But pity plays no role in this.

Dogs are quite willing to forgive and forget, so focus your energy instead on creating a stable environment, and providing consistent leadership and positive training.

The other mistaken belief is that the way to train a “difficult” dog is to make him comply by using force. This is a lie, plain and simple.

Barbaric methods like choke chains and shock collars have no place in modern dog training. No responsible trainer uses them and if one so much as suggests you do, take your dog elsewhere.

These methods are possibly the worse thing you can do with an aggressive dog. Effectively what you’re doing is approaching an already aggressive animal with violence, and that my friend, is just asking to be bitten. So don’t ever use violent training methods with any dog.

How then, should you approach training an older dog? Well, for starters, appreciate that dogs are receptive to learning at any age. Start with the basics – crate training, and house training (if needed), then move on to basic obedience work. Above all keep it positive and reward-based.

Be mindful that your results will be less predictable than if you were training a puppy, and that you’ll need tons of patience and persistence.

Also keep in mind that dogs are individuals. Breed, age and other factors all affect trainability, but even within the same breed there are variances of personality. With a dog that has been adopted there’s also the added complication of past events influencing how the dog reacts.

But with persistent application you will succeed. Need a role model? Well Frank Inn, the famous Hollywood dog trainer found virtually all his star performers (including Higgins, the dog who played Benji), at dog shelters.

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Posted under Older Dog Training

This post was written by TKB_Editor on February 28, 2012

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