Some say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we disagree! In fact, dogs of all ages are eager to learn and please their owners. Maybe you are considering adding an older dog into your home, or you feel like your dog should get out more and learn some new socialization skills. Either way, there are some important things to keep in mind when working with an older dog.
First things first, you should always stay in tune with your dog’s needs. If your dog isn’t comfortable around new people or other dogs, you will need to take things slowly and pay close attention to their behavior.
Introduce new people slowly!
A great way to start getting your older dog to socialize is to invite people over in small groups. Invite one or two friends over at a time and make this a fun experience for your dog. Have your friends walk in with treats or carrying one of your dog’s favorite toys.
Your friends should come in and not crowd around your pup. Let your dog make the first move. If your dog does not seem to want to approach your friends, have them toss the treat over to show your dog that they come in peace! Your dog may be ready to host a yappy hour in no time.
According to PetMD, a great way to help your dog socialize is to go on a buddy walk. Ask a friend who has a dog if they would meet you for a walk. You should go to a neutral place where the two dogs can walk side by side and experience the adventure together. Many dogs prefer to walk next to each other without a face to face interaction. This is a great way to get your dog used to being around other dogs.
School is in session!
There are classes that many training schools provide that are focused on older dogs. Also, there are specialized classes like nose work and trick classes that your dog might enjoy. Getting some professional help in teaching your dog new tricks can be great for the both of you. Also, going to a class with other dogs can help your dog get used to having furry friends around.
Once your dog is acclimated to other dogs, it can be fun to schedule a dog party. Many times dog parks can be overwhelming, especially for older dogs, so if you have a fenced in yard or know a friend that does, it can be great to invite some dogs over and let them play.
Make sure to keep an eye on them the whole time and remove any dogs that seem overwhelmed. Some dogs have anxiety when being on leash with other dogs so this is a great way to let them play and get to know each other.
Practice is key.
At the end of the day, the more you practice with your dog, the more comfortable they will be in certain situations. If your dog doesn’t like going into town, why not try taking them on an errand during an off-time when there aren’t as many people or noises around.
Always carry treats with you and praise your dog when they have a positive interaction. You will begin teaching them to associate these new experiences with happiness and joy. Not only will it help your dog, but will also increase the bond between the two of you.