Is My Dog Too Old For Training?

The old familiar quote, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” drives me crazy, because some people take it so seriously and literally. I’ve had people with both 13 year old dogs, and even 1 year old dogs thinking that their dog is “too old for training”, as if they passed and missed some magical time of learning for their dog. The idea that a dog can no longer learn better behaviors past a certain age just seems silly.

Age doesn’t make a difference — as long as your dog has the mental capacity, your dog can learn new tricks and better behaviors at any point in their life! As dogs get older, the risk of losing their mental faculties is increased (ie: canine senility), but it is not always the case with senior dogs. I’ve also met older dogs who both mentally and physically act like they are still young puppies! As long as your dog is healthy, your dog can learn and be better, no matter how old they are.

older dog in training

Training an older dog might be more challenging, but it’s not impossible. And while I’ve trained older dogs that might’ve been a little more hard-headed and “set in their ways”, I’ve had older dogs that were very open and adaptable to being trained, and it wasn’t as difficult as expected! It is understandable that training an older dog might be more of task, as they’ve had more years to behave a certain way, and now we’re suddenly telling them to undo that. Doing this doesn’t make you a bad dog parent or cruel. To me, it would be more unfair to you and your dog to have them behave an inappropriate way without correcting it properly. Because this could lead to resentment and mistrust between you and your dog, and that’s not how you and your dog’s relationship should be based. Instead, it should have a foundation of trust, leadership, and love.

If your older dog has more severe behavior issues, such as anxiety and aggression, don’t worry…those are issues that can still be worked on, even later in life! As mentioned before, it can be more challenging with age/time and with more serious issues like anxiety or aggression. But it’s worth a shot to try to give your older dog a good life without feeling anxious, fearful, or aggressive all the time!

Our Kansas City dog trainer is highly skilled and experienced with working with all dogs of different ages, breeds, sizes, backgrounds, and behavioral issues. If you’re older dog could use some brushing up on manners, or if they’re suffering from something more serious, then call us at Fountain City Dog Training! We can be reached at 816.897.2110, or you can write us any inquiries using our contact form!