Can you train an old dog new tricks?

From lolloping golden retrievers to pint sized Maltese terriers, New Zealand is a land of dog lovers. And after more than 10 years with your furry friends, chances are they feel like part of the family. But just like humans, dogs get old. This means that after your pup hits the 10 year mark, it qualifies as a pensioner. Does this mean you can’t teach it new tricks? Not at all. With a little patience and a good supply of treats up your sleeve, you can teach your dog almost anything.


Here’s some tips to get you started:

Factoring in age

It’s important to think about your dog’s health, and whether it’s capable of performing a certain trick. For example, while ‘stick em up!’ is a fun trick for young dogs, older animals might find it difficult on the knees. It’s best to stick to less strenuous, but just as impressive tricks.

Fostering and adoption

Often, older dogs are the perfect solution for people who want the love and companionship of a pet, without the 10+ year commitment. While some rescue dogs come trained, other need a little work. But don’t shy away from an older dog just because it’s not housetrained or doesn’t understand commands like sit, down and stay. With small treats you can quickly lure your pup into the proper positions, and you’ll be amazed at how fast they pick it up.

Time and patience

skateboarding-dogThe most important thing to remember is that it takes time and patience to teach any dog a trick, no matter how old it is. As a rule of thumb, it will take around three to four weeks or repetition for something to become a habit, so make sure you dedicate several short training sessions a day to the cause.

Dog school

If you’re finding it difficult or aren’t seeing progress you can always enrol your pup at a local dog training school. Not just for puppies, they can help you train your dog into a wonderfully obedient companion. You can also check out online resources like Cesar’s Way, which is packed full of information and training tips. You can also check out these e-books which will tutor you through training your dog from getting the household ready, rewards as well as the basics.

The fun stuff

Basic commands aren’t exactly the most interesting ‘tricks’ to teach your dog. So, once you’ve covered the basics you can move on to the fun stuff. We love these suggestions from Dog Time, which teach you how to train your pup to kiss, speak, shake hands, roll over and more. Guaranteed, the grandkids will love it.


Do you have any experience teaching an old dog new tricks? Give us a shout and let us know your tips, training regimes and favourite tricks.