Is It Too Late To Train My Dog (When Is Too Late)

So, there is the classic saying that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ and from this you would naturally assume that the saying is pretty literal.

Well, we are here to prove this saying wrong! In fact, you can teach an old dog new tricks – and it is never too late to do this.

Whether you have decided to adopt an older rescue dog from a shelter, or whether your once obedient puppy has grown cheekier in its old age and you need to remind it of the basics, then we have some great advice for you.

Is It Too Late To Train My Dog (When Is Too Late)

The key thing to be is: PATIENT.

We know this is easier said than done, but an older dog will be slightly more reluctant to pick up and learn new tricks, so lots of bribery with doggy treats will be on the cards here…

When Is Too Late

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this. We are sorry to be the bearer of the bad news here, but we can’t give you a straightforward answer. 

You can put a pretty positive spin on this though, because your dog does not have an expiry date when it comes to training. Dogs are like humans, in that they are all different.

Some older dogs might be keen to take on new information from you because they want your attention, or some older dogs might not have the energy to entertain your training schemes and will just curl up and sleep. 

It is crucial that you know your dog, and know its limits.

So, when it comes to training your dog, use your own common sense to see if your dog is struggling or losing interest, because if you push your dog too hard and it becomes uninterested in the training then trying to get your dog to learn new tricks will become tiresome for the both of you. 

It’s Not All Bad

We do not want to burst your bubble before you even start training your dog, but, at any age a dog can be pretty tricky to train. But, training an older dog might actually be a little easier than training a young puppy.

We say this because older dogs have a much better attention span and will concentrate on you more than a curious puppy.

If you are training an older dog who does not know any commands, then do not worry. Your dog should be familiar with tone and basic commands such as ‘good dog’.

This will mean that your dog will be used to taking in new information and processing instructions. 

Also, older dogs are a lot easier to please than puppies. Sure, you might have to have a few doggy treats handy – but your older dog will just love to spend time with you and will love your attention.

With age comes wisdom, but also comes neediness – and your dog will just want to be with you and be your focus, so if you are working hard to train them then they will most likely put up with this just so they can spend more time with you. 

Important Things To Remember

When it comes to training your older dog, make sure that you understand their limits. This is especially important if your dog has health problems.

An example of this would be if your dog has arthritis, then you should give it substantial time to rest if you are doing training where your dog has to stand up and sit down.

Your dog will not want to work with you if it is in pain, so rest and recovery time is important to make sure that the dog still engages with you and wants to cooperate with your training schedule. 

Also, make sure that you make some allowances for your dog’s age. If you are training a particularly older dog, then do not be too harsh on it.

When you are training a puppy, you are working with a dog that has lots of energy and that wants to play and run around. Your older dog might mentally still feel like a puppy, but physically it will not exert this much energy because… Well…

They are getting on a bit now! So, you might have been able to spend hours and hours training a puppy, but with an older dog this might be less than an hour a day.

But, this will not have a negative effect on the quality of your training. This is because older dogs have a more developed cognitive function and they will be better at understanding commands and retaining information. 

Puppies need more reminding and practise at training exercises to form muscle memory as well as mental memory. 

Should You Wait Until Your Puppy Gets Older Before Training It

Just to be super clear here: although we are advocating training older dogs because, yeah, it can be done – we are by no means saying that you should let your dog run riot as a puppy and wait until they get older before training them. 

If you have your dog as a puppy then this is where you should begin the training process. However, if you take in an older dog then of course you will have missed this stage of their life.

So, the bottom line is that you can train your older dog, and there is no age limit for when you cannot train your dog. You should just take into account the age of your dog and the health of your dog, and train them in a way that suits them.

You don’t want to push your dog too hard, because if they end up in pain or exhausted then they will lose interest in the training exercises pretty quickly.

This might not be something that you get perfect straight away, after all you and your dog will have to work out a routine that works for the both of you, but once you have mastered this then training your older dog should be a pretty enjoyable bonding experience for you and your dog. 

Is It Ever Too Late To Train My Dog

In case it was not clear, then NO! It is never too late to train your dog. If you have had your dog from a puppy, and you trained it well but now it has got quite cheeky, then you can retrain your dog.

Naturally, your dog might grumble about this because they are used to being cheeky and getting away with more. But, you will be able to retrain your dog.

Additionally, if you have taken in an older rescue dog then you will be able to train this dog, even if it has not been exposed to rigorous training before. Dogs are smart animals, they are so intelligent and believe it or not, they thrive off being obedient.

Your dog will just love you devoting your time and attention to it, so they might not be a massive fan of the training at first, but with some bribery – also known as treats – then they will be pretty susceptible to picking up some new skills. 

Daniel Johnson