Can you still train a 7 and a 12 year old dog? If so, how?

Last updated: March 22, 2016

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Rosies dog in an orange sweater going for a walk on a leadHi Rosie. Thanks for your question about training for older dogs. Great picture too.

Training is an important part of a dog’s life at all ages.

The first 16 weeks of life for a puppy are a critical learning period, but just like people, dogs continue to learn and can be trained at any stage of life.

Training is important for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation which helps to keep your dog happy, and if combined with morning exercise your dog will be mentally and physically tired at the end and far more likely to sleep during the day.

The RSPCA supports reward-based training methods whereby the dog is set up to succeed and then rewarded for performing the ‘good’ behaviour (positive reinforcement).

Reward-based training is enjoyable for the dog and creates a better relationship between the dog and handler. This type of training revolves around positive reinforcement – i.e. rewarding behaviour that we like. Rewards may be in the form of a tasty food treat or verbal praise such as “good dog!” in a pleasant tone of voice, to be given when the dog performs the ‘good’ behaviour.

Reward for doing the correct thing. Do not punish for mistakes – it is better to ignore and make it even easier for the dog to get it right next time so you can reward them for the correct response.

Get some professional advice.

An excellent next step would be to speak with a veterinary behavioural specialist or to book an RSPCA animal training course at your nearest shelter. You can find links to RSPCA state and territory websites as well as shelter locations here: https://www.schoolfordogs.com.au//

You can train your dog and have fun at the same time.

Here are some fun games you can play with your dog that help to teach them as well:

More resources for learning about training your dogs:

Have fun!

Billy

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