Dear Sarah,?


We’ve just welcomed a four-year old dog into our family. So far he’s had no basic training. Is he too old?
Marnie P

Hi Marnie,

Not at all! Our old pug Maxi was six years old when we adopted her and she didn’t even know how to sit. She learnt it, along with how to lie down on cue, shake hands, high five, speak, come when she was called, walk nicely on lead, leave it, give, and most importantly – go to the toilet outside! The oldest dog I’ve had in one of my classes was 10 years of age and he passed with flying colours!!

The old saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is not entirely true. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks – but it can take a little longer for them to process the information, and it may require a little more patience and consistency from you. 

Just like with humans, young dogs are like sponges – absorbing all sorts of information. Also like humans, the speed at which they process information slows down with age. This will inadvertently slow down the learning process. Furthermore, any undesirable behaviour that an older dog has been practicing up until this point can be quite ingrained, so changing those neural pathways always adds time. 

Dogs of any age enjoy learning new things. Just remember to be patient, and allow your dog time to process what you are trying to teach them. 

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