Is it actually possible to train old dogs new tricks? Yes! Adult dogs are often easier to train than young puppies because they have more self-control. It's also important to keep training your dog as he matures. It will keep his mind sharp and offer the mental stimulation and structure that he needs. The following tips will help you train your adult dog.
If you have just brought an adult dog into your home, allow him some time to adjust. An adult dog comes with his own history which can make him nervous about his new surroundings. Don't give up on your new dog after only a few days. Your adult dog may need a period of adjustment which can take anywhere from a few days to a month or so. Once your adult dog realizes he has found his forever home, he will soon settle into being part of the family. There may be some unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to training a shelter dog.
Use a Crate for Housetraining
Don't assume an adult dog is house trained or well-behaved in the house. Treat your adult dog just as you would a new puppy. Keep him in a crate when you are not able to supervise him. When you release him from the crate, take him immediately to the place outside where you want him to relieve himself.
The good news is that adult dogs have more control over their bladders and bowels than young puppies. The house training process usually goes much more quickly with adult dogs than with puppies or adolescent dogs who don't have this control yet.
Enroll in an Obedience Class
Your adult dog is perfectly capable of learning new things. Even if he has never had any obedience training in the past, your adult dog will benefit from learning basic commands, such as walking on a loose leash and lying down. An obedience class is a great place to work on this training.
An obedience class is also a great place for your adult dog to socialize with other dogs and people. It will allow you to see how he reacts to other dogs and strangers in a safe environment with a professional dog trainer on hand to offer advice.
Set Rules and Boundaries from the Beginning
An adult dog may have been able to do things in his previous home that you don't want to him to do in yours, such as jumping on guests or lying on the furniture. Start teaching your adult dog the rules for your home right now. It may take some work at the beginning, but teaching your adult dog basic commands and working on solving his behavior problems from day one means your dog will soon settle into being a happy and healthy part of your family. It's also valuable to teach your adult dog self-control: nothing in life is free.
Keep It Positive
Because you probably don't know for sure the type of experience your adult dog has had with training in the past, positive reinforcement methods are your best bet. Using tasty treats and plenty of praise are effective training methods for dogs of all ages and breeds. Keep things fun and upbeat rather than punishing your adult dog. This is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT