Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Absolutely! Dogs never lose their ability to acquire and process new information. More importantly, it is crucial for their overall health and well-being that you provide them with mental stimulation and expose them to new information and situations. Simple things like changing the usual routes you take for their pee break can go a long was in keeping their brains active.
It is expected that they’re learning process will be much slower and their attention span shorter, but they will still benefit from the mental exercise you provide them.
There are many things to consider when training an older dog, the most important being their health limitations. Patience and positive attitude is crucial for success. It is easy to get discouraged and cause frustration or resentment in your dog. Keep the sessions short and fun, focusing on the strengths and compensating of any shortcomings. For example, if your dog is loosing their hearing, teach them hand signals, if the sight is getting worse focus on their nose and teach them to use it for tracking around the house.
Regardless of whether you are adopting a senior dog or if you want to continue training with your aging companion, it is not only possible, but highly recommended. Training and Older Dog is a very interesting and informative article about 3 senior dogs from the Miller pack and the adaptations the family had to make to continue on with their training.