Training older dogs is usually more difficult than training puppies. This is in part due to the fact that older dogs have more defined habits. Training older dogs that have got into bad habits usually requires a lot of patience and persistence. It could take months to train an older dog with deeply ingrained bad habits. Prepare yourself to spend a lot of time with your dog through the training process.
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Types of bad habits that older, more mature dogs that have not been trained properly when young may have include peeing wherever they want to, roaming freely throughout the house, excessive aggression, biting, barking, chasing cats, bolting out the front door and disobedience in general.
As with puppies, developing a consistent routine is important when training older dogs. You will want to start with feeding them at exactly the same time each day, and taking the dog outside to pee at the same time each day.
Some of the common rules that owners want to focus on when training older dogs include teaching their dog what parts of the house they are allowed in, teaching the dog not to use the floor as a bathroom, and to stop their dog bolting out the door anytime he hears something outside. We will cover each one of these common training problems below.
Before we can cover these common problems, we need to make sure a couple of basic training commands are understood by your dog. The two commands that must be understood are the “Sit” and the “Stay” command.
Training older dogs to sit can be done a couple of ways. The way I will explain here is a method that involves gentle pushing of your dog into the sit position. What you need to do is gently push your dog’s backside down so that he is seated and say “Sit”. Once he has remained in the seated position for a couple of seconds its time to give him a small treat as well as a lot of praise. You will most likely need to practice this often so that your dog becomes accustomed to obeying the command and understands that you will be very happy once he performs the action asked.
The second basic command that is a “must understand” when training older dogs is the “Stay” command. The best way to teach this to an adult dog is to place a small food treat or your dog’s favorite toy a couple of meters in front of your dog. As your dog moves forward to get the treat/toy, raise your hand and in a firm voice say “Stay”. After you dog has obeyed the command and stayed in his original spot for some time you can give him the treat. Over the next few days practice this from time to time, slowly move further away from your dog. After some time your dog should obey your command even if you are 5 – 10 meters away.
To read about how to overcome some of the most common problems found when training older dogs, see House Training Older Dogs (page 2)