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How to teach your old dog new tricks (yes, it’s actually possible)

Written by Sam

When we talk about training dogs, we’re not just referring to puppies or younger dogs. Many people aren’t aware that, with the right strategy, you can train a senior dog to pick up new tricks. This is especially useful if you’re thinking of adopting a rescue, or even if you just think your older dog could benefit from some improved manners. At TastyBone, we’ve put together the complete guide on teaching your old dogs new tricks. You never know, your furry pal might just surprise you! Every dog has its day after all. 

Consider what you’d like to teach your dog

Want to teach your dog to follow set commands? Having problems getting your dog to heel while out for walks? Does your dog just not think you’re worth listening to?

When you decide to train your dog, it’s important to list your goals and figure out what’s most important to you and then start based on order of priority. Dogs can only retain so much information at once so have realistic ideas about how long it will take to train your dog and dig deep- this is going to take some patience!

Pick a day to start training

Training a dog, especially an older dog, takes time and commitment. Pick a day to start training when you know you’ll have adequate time to dedicate to the task. There’s no point starting when you have a million chores to do around the house and work deadlines looming. Choose a time when you know you will be calm and relaxed and you can give your dog your full attention. 

Establish a set routine

Establishing a set routine is key for successful training. Make sure that mealtimes, toilet breaks, walks and training times are at the same time everyday and this will help your pooch know what to expect. When they understand the vague order of what happens everyday and when, they’ll be more likely to pick up new skills and fully meet their potential. 

Offer rewards

Positive reinforcement works like a charm whether your dog is three months old or 3 years old. Treats are treats at the end of the day. When training your dog, ensure you reward them with positive language and a treat for their efforts. This positive reinforcement will make them more inclined to heed your commands. This doesn’t mean that failure to carry out a command should be met with negativity- the best way to approach this is to just say nothing at all and refrain from giving them a treat. We know it’s hard when they’re expecting a reward (those puppy-dog eyes get us right in the feels too!) but try to stay strong, it will be worth it in the long run.

It’s also important to note that treats should only make up 10% of a dog’s overall diet, so keep this in mind, even if your dog is the ultimate Good Boy. 

Watch YouTube Videos

YouTube is a gold mine if you’re looking for specific advice on how to train your older dog. Better yet, it’s completely free! Keep in mind that once you choose a training strategy you should stick with it until you get the results you’re after. Different dog trainers may have several different approaches so stick with one so you don’t confuse your dog. 

Consider classes

Dog training classes are great for owners that might be dealing with a particularly strong-willed or mischievous dog. The trainers who run these classes can help explain where you might be going wrong in your approach and help you and your fur baby get back on the right track. Visit DogsTrust to find your nearest obedience school. 

Be consistent 

In general, dogs respond really well to consistency. If you’re consistently setting time aside to train your dog each day and using the same approach/methods then you’re likely to be successful in the long run. However, just because they’ve learnt new tricks doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily remember them forever. Once the learning phase is over, use the established commands on a regular basis and continue to follow the original routine you set out for them.


When it comes to training your fur baby, no matter how old they are, there will be ups and downs. Don’t lose heart if your furry pal doesn’t seem to be picking things up as fast as you would like; try to remember that training takes time and patience. Stick to your original plan and have faith in your pooch; dogs are amazing creatures with a huge capacity to learn and that includes the older ones!

So there you have it. As long as you follow the guide above we’re pretty sure you’ll have your older dog fetching, sitting and heeling in no time! If you’re a new dog owner and want some tips on caring for your new fur baby, click here