Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
Can Older Dogs Learn New Tricks?
There’s a significant amount of emphasis on training and socializing young puppies. Without the right kind of attention early in life, dogs can develop behavioral and/or social challenges. However, that doesn’t mean they should stop learning new things. In fact, just like people, learning and keeping the mind and body active can keep older dogs healthier for longer periods of time.
The three main components of living with older dogs are nutrition, exercise, and keeping routine wellness visits. The first two help keep your aging pup as healthy as can be, and the exams allow us to detect any developing problems before they become too painful or costly, such as diabetes, arthritis, dental disease, and other common age-related problems.
A fourth important element that’s just as important is keeping your dog’s mind engaged every day. This can be achieved via visiting new places, meeting different people and animals, and giving the five senses a good workout.
Of course, many older dogs aren’t up for running an agility course, but they can still learn new tricks. Keeping in mind any possible hearing or visual deficits, many older pups can pick up new skills via a combination of sight, sound, and hand signals.
Using American Sign Language or your own made up signals can be taught, so your dog understands when it’s time for food, a walk, a trip, bedtime, and more.
Positive training is endlessly beneficial for the bond between you, and it really is fun. At this point, you probably have a good idea of what your older dog enjoys or what motivates them. A type of tasty, healthy treat, for instance, can help older dogs maintain focus and attention during training sessions.
You might have to train your aging dog to use a ramp or a certain walkway. Also, teaching your dog certain therapies, like swimming or walking on a treadmill, has enormous impact on their long term health and happiness.
Keeping the mind healthy is also supported by various food puzzles or food hunts. This keeps your dog active and triggers the use of their nose to find kibble around the backyard or inside puzzles, like Kongs. Toys should always be rotated out to keep boredom at bay.
Older Dogs, Big Love
Even though older dogs slow down a bit, they’re still your fun-loving, adventurous pup. Keeping them happy with mental and physical stimulation adds insurance to a longer, healthier life.
As always, please contact us with any questions or concerns.