Menu

Download our Petland App today for information on your local Petland's Available Pets and Pet Supplies. All at the tips of your fingers!

Petland Logo
Login/Register

Please create a free account below, or login by clicking here.

Zip Code(Required)
Puppy Information and Coupons

Disclaimer

Stay updated with Petland! By checking the above box, you are providing your electronic signature to consent to receive SMS text messages, emails, mailings and other communications from Petland, even if such communications are considered advertisements, and you confirm that you are the subscriber or customary user of any phone number you submit. Text messages may be sent using an automated dialing system. Your consent is not a condition of purchasing any goods or services, and may be revoked at any time by responding STOP to any SMS text messages you receive. Message and data rates may apply. Additionally, you are consenting to location, usage, and information collection.

Fun Tips on Training Your Dog Regardless of His Age

September 10, 2020

Training puppies is an easy endeavor but training an old dog is really hard. Or so you’ve heard. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” 

Wrong on both counts. First off, training any dog, regardless of age, is relatively easy if you use the two most important tools: treats and patience. Declining health might mean your senior dog can’t perform certain tasks, but within his physical limitations, older dogs can learn new things. Puppies may train faster, but older dogs outperform the pups in logic and reasoning tasks. Like humans, they learn from life experiences. They are also able to focus longer than a young dog.

So what to teach your dog to do? Here is a list of tricks to teach any dog of any age. Using the techniques of consistency, repetition, and positive reward, any dog can learn these. Using a clicker to signal correct responses speeds this training up many times over. The most important thing about clicker training is timing. You absolutely must time the click to coincide with the correct behavior. A moment too late and he won’t understand what you are rewarding him for. 

  1. Touch. This is the basic command—targeting— that will be foundational in teaching other tricks. Simply hold out two fingers in front of your dog. When your dog reaches out and touches your fingers, immediately click and then give him his tiny pieces of his favorite treat. After he gets the idea, move your hand away so that the dog must come to your hand in order to touch it. When he is reliably touching your fingers every time you hold them out, add the verbal word, “touch.” (If he’s hearing impaired, just skip the word. The visual gesture will be all he needs.)
  2. Come. If you have taught touch, give the touch command and hold out your fingers. When he touches your fingers, toss his treat a little ways away from him so he has to go get it. Then command “touch” again and repeat the sequence of command, touch (click), toss, repeat. As soon as he starts eagerly coming to you when he sees your hand outstretched, change the command from “touch” to “come.”
  3. Lie down. Start with your dog in front of you and hold two fingers out as before. When he touches your fingers, click and treat. Next time, put your fingers on the ground and say “touch.” You’ll be amazed how quickly he will lie down to touch your fingers. Remember to click the moment the behavior is correct. When he’s reliably lying down to touch your fingers, change the command to “lie down.” Repeat it until he will lie down on command.
  4. Sit. This time, use the touch command to teach your dog to sit. Start out the same way with the dog touching your extended fingers. Then lift the fingers up and slightly over his head. He will lift his head to touch your fingers and will probably lower his hindquarters at the same time. When he is sitting each time you lift your fingers above his head, add the “sit” command.
  5. Follow. Teaching your dog to follow your moving fingers at this point should be very easy. Keep the fingers just slightly ahead of him and out of his reach. When you finally allow him to touch your fingers, click and reward. This one will be a lot of fun for him, so teaching “follow” will seem more like a game.
  6. Ring the bell to go outside. One secret of clicker training is to capture behavior you want to reinforce. Instead of extending your fingers, hold a string of bells and command your dog to touch. At first, he may look at you confused. Just wait. Repeat the command “touch” and wiggle the string of bells a little to encourage his attention. As soon as he touches the bells, click and reward. Next, hold the bells a little higher than his nose so he reaches for the bells. When he touches them, click and reward. Next time, move the bells to a door or gate and when he touches them, open the gate and reward him after he passes through the door. You no longer have to verbally cue him, but every time he goes through the gate, take him to his potty spot. Slowly wait to treat him until he is closer to his spot, and eventually stop rewarding him for going outside and reward him for doing his business. 

Building on targeting, you can teach your dog to go get things, to pick up his toys, to open doors, and so much more. Any dog of any age can learn this way. So head to your nearest Petland, grab some Lil Gimmes training treats and start mastering some new tricks with your dog! To see videos of how to use this technique with your dog, watch this Treehugger video.

Related Articles

View All Articles

  • Image Not Found

    New Year Fireworks and Your Pets

    In years gone by, New Years was not a time of celebration for me. I owned several horses and lived near a city center in north Texas. When others were watching the fireworks in awe...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Giving the Gift of Love and Cuddles for Christmas 2020

    There is little that can rival the excitement of seeing a box wiggle and squeak under the Christmas tree for kids and adults alike. To make it the best Christmas gift you’ve ever...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Puppy Pals For Tough Times: Service Dogs In The Time of COVID

    2020 has been a hard time for dog lovers. COVID has made it difficult to take care of them, be it getting to the vet for treatments or even adopting one in the first place. And the...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Thanksgiving With Your Pets

    The year 2020 has been different than any year we have experienced, and with the holidays right around the corner, we don’t see that letting up. So Thanksgiving may look differen...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Life Hacks for New Puppy Owners

    You and your family made the decision to bring a new puppy into your home, found the one that stole your heart, and now that puppy you dreamed about is a reality. And reality has h...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    National Cook for Your Pets Day

    Today, November 1, 2020, is Go Cook For Your Pet Day. Here are a few great recipes to honor your BFFF (best four-footed friend) in the kitchen this year. Animals can have sensitive...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    It’s Decorating Season!

    As we near the 2020 holiday season, it’s time to look back over the year and celebrate what’s coming next. There is lots of partying during the fall and early winter months, an...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Hitting the trails in the fall!

    Fall is a wonderful time to hit the trails with Fido. The days are crisp and clear and the outdoors calls as much to you as to your fur-buddy. If you plan on hiking with your dog, ...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Autumn festivities with awesome DIY Halloween toys!

    Halloween is right around the corner, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be just as fun for your pets as it is for you! While you’re preparing costumes, decorations, and ...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    How Do I Certify My Dog As a Therapy Animal?

    Dogs aren’t just pets anymore, they assist us with a number of things from detecting cancer to helping comfort those with PTSD. Petland has a long history of supporting therapy c...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    Natural Disaster Preparedness For You and Your Pets

    This year has been one of unique challenges due to COVID-19, forcing us to stay at home. But the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has already had 9 named storms, “the most ever rec...

    Read This Blog

  • Image Not Found

    End of Summer Vacays With Fido

    Dogs love the outdoors. They notice everything, not only with their eyes but with their whole bodies. Watch Fido, and you’ll see him sniff, move his ears, cock his head, wag his ...

    Read This Blog

Help Need Help?