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There’s a famous saying: “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. But, is that true?
The ideal scenario would be to train your dog from the day you get them, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Maybe you’ve adopted a dog, maybe you’ve been given a dog from a family member or perhaps you simply never got around to it.
The problem is, the less training you give your dog for things like toilet training, bad behavior like pulling on the leash or biting and begging for food – the more likely it is that your dog will have these behaviors embedded in their psyche and they will continue to exhibit these behaviors.
So, if you’ve got an adult dog and you’re wondering if it’s too late or the dog’s behavior is now too far gone – we’ve got an answer for you.
It’s Never Too Late
The great news is, whatever the reason that your furry friend did not get training before – it’s never too late to start training them now.
In fact, even if your dog was trained fully – it’s quite common that dogs might alter their behavior drastically in later life or due to an event in their life. It could even be caused by medication or a health issue.
These problems might range from potty trouble to biting humans or even fighting with other dogs and not getting along.
There are common reasons for these behavioral changes though, and they include:
Adoption Of An Older Dog
Adopting a dog is a really great thing to do, but much like adopting a human – these dogs come with a past.
Sometimes, these include a dark history of things like abuse or mistreatment and neglect. Due to this baggage, dogs might act up a little differently.
It might seem like bad behavior, but these dogs might only know this type of behavior.
It’s also possible that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, which is a condition associated with when a dog has been left alone for long periods of time in its history.
If you go to work most of the time, your dog might start to feel this separation anxiety and this might cause the dog to act up and do things like tear up the carpet or bark all day.
This can also be caused by if your dog used to have a pal at the shelter but you’ve adopted them on their own.
Your Life Has Changed
Huge personal life events can often mean, even by no fault of your own, you begin to neglect your dog emotionally and they might begin to change their behavior.
Life events can be things like having a baby. Of course, along with the stress and overall overwhelming emotional impact this can have on your life – including financially and lack of sleep, your dog can sometimes be an afterthought.
Some new life events can require you to teach your dog something new.
For example, if you’ve moved from an apartment complex to a range or large estate – or vice versa, you might need to show your dog that they can explore, or show them their restrictions.
Your dog might also need to be taught how to get along with perhaps a baby or a new pet that you’ve adopted.
Whatever the case, dogs need to be shown how to treat new and unfamiliar scenarios so that they don’t get yelled at for doing, what you’d consider bad behavior or disobedience.
This will not matter if the dog is a young pup or an older adult. You should not worry about its age to start teaching dog training in these situations.
Bad Habits Annoying The Owner
Sometimes, dog owners are blinded by their furry friend’s cuteness, or their overall love for the dog clouds their judgment.
If this happens, many owners will not discipline their dogs for bad behavior like stealing food or messing on the carpet.
As a result, bad behaviors might continue for years with the owner simply ignoring it or covering up the situation for the dog.
This is until the behavior gets too much and they get annoyed by the behaviors.
This means that the dog is now much older and probably confused as to why training begins now. Why are their actions now such a problem?
To teach the dog about this, you’ll need to persevere with the training and stick with it. It may take longer, but it is definitely possible.
What About Social Training? Is It Too Late?
Socializing or social training is incredibly important to a dog’s life. It shapes their behavior around other humans and other dogs and pets.
The older your dog is, they might have gotten stuck in their ways.
Or, they might have experienced a traumatic event in their past that involved a human or other animal and this might make them apprehensive to trust another.
We are no different in this regard. It’ll simply take time, dedication, and care to overcome this obstacle.
This is going to be drastically different from teaching your dog something else.
Whereas toilet training might involve repetition and maybe Pavlovian conditioning techniques and teaching a trick might be similar – socializing is an emotional event, meaning the dog’s feelings will determine if they socialize or not.
It’s said that in a dog’s first 3 months of life, they will be conditioned to the world that you’ve shown them.
If they are happy, scared, or upset about certain things – it will come down to their first 12 weeks, but it’s not impossible to change this.
It’s important to know though, that like us, not every dog will be the same. Some dogs will detest being in social situations and some dogs will not get along with other dogs or other pets.
This does not mean they’re committing bad behavior – they just have a difference of opinion and should not be disciplined for this.
Is There Ever An Age That Is Too Old To Train?
Just like us, there is absolutely never a time frame to learn things. It is natural for humans to set times to everything but for things like education, it should never have an expiry date.
This means that if a dog is months old, 2 years, 5 years, or even 10 years old – it can always be trained.
Okay, the older that they get – they may be a little set in their ways or even stubborn, but they can be trained in the right way.
It’s important to remain patient and stick with all advice that you may have received from a trainer or vet.
It is absolutely never too late to start training your dog.
It might, however, require you to be dedicated and patient.
It’s worth considering speaking with an animal behavioral specialist or your vet if you need some advice on your dog’s behavior.
Always remember, that dogs are very similar to humans in their emotional responses to things, and sometimes they just need a little extra help with things.