New tricks for older dogs

Have you given up on teaching your older dog new things because you believe it all has to be done during puppyhood? Animaltalk is here to bring you good news: older dogs CAN learn new tricks. Training always involves patience and perseverance, and in some cases more so for older dogs. But it can be done.

Importance of brain games

Dogs of all ages need their minds stimulated in order to improve confidence and prevent boredom. Training is a great way to do that, along with lovely sniffing walks. There are also very simple things you can do to stimulate your dog’s mind – get him to use his nose! You will both have a great time, and it’s such an easy way to get your older dog to love life again. A few ideas:

  • Muffin tin game Simply put a few treats inside a muffin tin and then cover them with tennis balls or crumpled up pieces of paper. Let your dog figure out how to get to the treats.
  • Rolled up towel Sprinkle some treats on an old towel and roll it up. Again, your dog must figure out how to get to the treats.
  • Educational toy There are a wide variety of treat-dispensing toys on the market.

Easy tricks to teach your dog

Learn to spin

  1. Get some treats that your dog loves and cut them into tiny pieces.
  2. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose, then move it around the dog slowly, thus luring the dog to spin around.
  3. When the dog has completed the circle, say ‘spin!’ and let him enjoy the treat.

Give paw

  1. Once again, get some yummy treats.
  2. Hold the treat in your hand, closing your hand into a fist.
  3. Hold your fist near the dog’s chest.
  4. Now wait for the dog to paw your hand in order to get to the treat. When he does, say ‘paw!’ and give him the treat.

Teach the roll over

  1. For this trick, your dog needs to know how to lie down on cue. Check out www.animaltalk.co.za/down to learn how to do this.
  2. Once again, arm yourself with delicious treats and ask your dog to lie down.
  3. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose, and carefully lure him onto his side. From there, keep luring until the dog has rolled over.
  4. Now say ‘roll over!’ and offer the treat.

Trick-training tips

  1. It might take a few tries before your dog gets it right. This is normal. Don’t get angry with him; training should always be fun.
  2. Keep training sessions short – five to 10 minutes is enough. Practise often.
  3. End your training sessions on a high note. If you keep everything positive and upbeat, your dog will enjoy working with you and will be more likely to learn.