Updated: Feb 12, 2021
We get asked a lot at K9 Culture Dog Training if we can help an “old” dog or how old is too old to train? The quick answer: your dog is not too old to train and learn new things.
A huge myth in dog training is you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. You most definitely can train or teach an older or even old dog anything you can train a young dog to do. The biggest difference is older dogs tend to not be as curious as younger dogs. It is not that they are not curious, they just tend to not be as actively curious about everything they see because not EVERYTHING is as new to them any longer.
Different ages of dogs effect how they learn and the speed at which they can learn and retain new information. Puppies and dogs under one year old are like a sponge for they want to explore and check everything out. The world is a playground to them and their senses! But they have shorter attention spans and are more easily distracted by just about ANYTHING.
Dogs 1 to 2 years old are like adolescents. They are beginning to mature and are developing the ability to focus better and not be so easily distracted but they still have a high curiosity level.
Dogs over 2 years old are adults. They are more mature and can give focus and attention for longer periods. Depending upon their breed and energy level, they tend to be able to harness their energy better than puppies.
Senior dogs are dogs over the age of 8 years old. This does not mean they are old, just senior. They like to learn and do things just as much as the 3-year-old dog does. We just have to show them how as we would do with ANY dog!
Probably the reason for the myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks or skills is the fact that older dogs have more established routines and if you are teaching them a new routine, they may push back and test you to see if they can just go back to the way things used to be. Think of it like breaking a habit, it takes repetition and consistency for dogs and for humans.
Resisting or trying to go back to the “way things used to be” is not age specific. All dogs tend to do this when learning new manners or obedience skills. They eventually try to pretend they did not hear you or just outright ignore you occasionally to push the limits and determine what they can and cannot get away with. Humans do the same thing, so do not get upset with your dog. It is a natural occurrence.
The average age of dogs we train at K9 Culture for our Dallas – Fort Worth dog owners is typically between 3 to 6 years old. The oldest dog we have trained was 15 years old! His name was Maxx and he was a great dog, but he barked whenever someone walked by their apartment door or knocked on a neighbor’s door and he would lose his mind if he saw someone riding a scooter. Maxx had never lived in an apartment before, so when his family relocated to Dallas for a new job, it was an adjustment for him that we helped him through, and he did FANTASTIC! Old dogs or young dogs, just take time and patience and clear instruction.
Old dogs can still learn obedience, good manners, how to walk politely on a leash or a clean heel or learn how to stop doing behaviors that they should not be doing. We have trained more 10 and 12-year-old dogs than we can count.
K-9 Culture Dog Training