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Pet Tip of the Week: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

   By Dawn Watson

This week's tip is a re-do of topic posted, previously. My favorite critic, Tom, asked for it, so here you are! Haley and Dawson

   Okay so you just rescued Spot from the local animal shelter. They say he’s about a year old but when you get him to your veterinarian he tells you, Noooooo, he’s about six years old! You can do one of the following things when you’re offered this news:

  1. Get him a cushion and retire him to the corner of the living room and give up on teaching him anything OR
  2. Get him a trainer who is willing to work with an older dog and make him the best dog he can be!

    Many times an older dog is capable of an unlimited amount of new behaviors, from

sitting up, to polite, on-leash walking, to opening the refrigerator to fetch you a cold one after a hard day’s work! All it takes is a little patience and lots of praise.

   Any dog that is “new” to your family can be considered a puppy! Start from the very beginning: have the dog sit for everything: Sit at the door, sit before being handed a yummy snack, sit before being petted. No free lunches for our Fido; he must earn your praise, trust, and treats. In that way you are establishing the hierarchy of the home. After all, you pay the bills, the rent, or the mortgage. Fido has to earn a living, too! He does so by respecting you enough to sit for attention.

   Dogs respond very well to respectful and kind treatment. If your “new” dog is cowering in a corner it’s likely he was abused in a former home. Dogs go through a honeymoon period in a new situation and will not push limits right away. Look for a ‘blossoming’, after about a week to ten days, and you will see your dog’s true personality unfold. Hopefully, it will be a personality you can deal with.

   The proper training by a professional is always recommended. You are ‘in love’ with your dog and therefore, can’t view the situation objectively. A professional trainer can save you weeks of frustration by honing in on unwelcome behaviors for little more than the cost of a good leash.

   An older dog can be a great companion. Generally, a rescued, non-puppy will be calmer, more likely to be housebroken, and grateful to have a place to call his own. He will not be chewing on furniture or howling all night long. Nor will he require that first set of puppy shots that can cause you to seek dual employment. In fact, an older dog can learn just as much a puppy—it may just take a bit longer to teach him!

   If you need advice or a consultation you can always call Brother of the Wolf at 856-349-2508 or drop me an email at Brotherofthewolf@comcast.net. There is never a fee for a phone or email consult! 

Wado udohiyu—thank you very much (in the Cherokee language)

Dawn Watson

Owner & Lead Trainer

Brother of the Wolf, LLC

700 Market Street

Here in the beautiful City of Gloucester, my hometown!

Pictured: Haley and Dawson pose after Dawson's third agility competition win at Brother of the Wolf. New agility classes begin October 10. Call 856-349-2508 to register!