Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?

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Can old dogs learn new tricks? The answer to this question is definitely yes.

Even though they will take more time when compared to younger dogs, they still can manage to learn new tricks.

Through the use of positive reinforcement and basic obedience commands, you can teach your older dog any new trick.

Tips such as being patient, teaching basic commands, and dog rules.

Research on how to teach older dogs new tricks

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? |
Credited: puppy toob

In a three year study made at the University of Vienna found out that old dogs can learn new tricks.

The study was tested on 95 Border Collies on their discrimination learning, inferential reasoning, and long term memory.

The dogs’ age was between 5 months to 13 years old.

Testing their discrimination learning ability

In this study, the dogs were placed in front of a touch screen and shown two photos.

If dogs get it right, the machine would give your dog a treat. They used 8 photographs.

The result was that 4 dogs got treats while the other four got nothing.

Testing their inferential reasoning ability

The dogs were given the choice between two pictures. One of the photos was a new one while the other one was the bad one from the first test.

Older dogs were found to perform better on this test than younger dogs.

Testing their long term memory

They tested their long term memory. After 6 months, the dogs were invited back and given the same test with 4 good photos and 4 bad photos.

There were no measurable differences between young and old dogs.

Tips on how to teach old dogs new tricks

1.) Enroll in obedience class

Older dogs have the capability to learn new things.

If your older class haven’t learned any basic commands, they can benefit from learning them such as sitting and laying down.

Another benefit is that older dogs can benefit from socializing with other dogs and people in a safe environment and with a dog trainer.

2.) Teach your dog basic rules in your home

Whether you just got an older dog or have one living with you, you have to teach your dog rules as soon as possible.

Also, you can teach your dog self-control by giving them a dog training method where nothing is given for free.

Dogs must be in their best behavior before they can get a treat, walk, or positive attention.

Another rule is to let everyone become consistent with the rules that you’ve set so your dog doesn’t get confused.

3.) Always keep it a positive experience

Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog new tricks. This ensures that your dog doesn’t become scared and reinforces the training into their mind.

4.) Start with simple tricks

Start with simple tricks to let your dog learn. You have to first start with the basic command training.

By spending time with your dog, your dog will bond with you easily.

5.) Be consistent and clear

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? |
Credited: companion animal psychology

You have to be clear and consistent with your dog so they don’t get confused at all.

You have to also repeat the training many times so your dog knows the steps of the training.

6.) Be patient

Be patient when giving them commands so you can train your dog effectively.

The commands that you ask your dog to do must always be followed with treats.

7.) Use interactive toys and puzzles

Interactive toys keep your dog’s mind active and engaged.

There are also several toys that have a reward system in them that your dog will take.

The toys offer your dog mental and physical stimulation that keeps your dog occupied.

What kind of tricks you can teach your older dog?

1.) Bark on command

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? |
Credited: doging ton post

You can teach your older dog to bark on command.

This mainly happens through asking your dog a command, then waiting for them to bark, and finally offering them a treat.

You have to train your dog and wait patiently for them.

Barking on command will help you know when your dog

2.) Shake hands

Your dog can learn to shake hands. This is mainly your dog will naturally paw at you if they want something.

An example would be if you have treats in your hands, your dog will paw at your hand to get the treats.

Once your dog puts their paws in your hand. Ask them the command “shake” and shake their hands.

Over time, they will learn that the command “shake” means to shake your dog’s hands.

3.) Fetch

You can make a dog interested in getting the ball through certain steps.

First, you have to have a leash so your dog doesn’t wander off. The leash must be very long so your dog can move freely and so can you

Second, throw the object such as ball so your dog will go fetch it.

In order for this step to succeed, you have to create a drive-in your dog by getting them excited to play.

Just play with them with the ball before you throw it.

Third, throw the ball and take some steps backward when your dog is coming to you so they can easily give you the ball.

Make sure you have dog treats so your dog will leave the toy and want to take the treat.

4.) Roll- over

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? |
Credited: rossendale responsible rescue

The trick is to get a treat and present it to your dog.

First, get the treat over your dog’s nose, they will automatically follow your hand wherever it goes.

To lure your dog down on the ground, move the treat to the ground. Give it to them when they lay their head down.

Second, get another treat and let your dog follow your hand while you put the treat to the side.

The dog will automatically turn to the side while laying down. Again, give them the treat.

Third, continue to use the roll the third treat to the ground. Your dog will automatically roll over their entire body.

5.) Spin

You can teach older dogs how to spin using a very simple technique.

Just have a treat with you. And before you start, make sure your dog is in a standing position.

Then lure your dog through treat by spinning it around in a circle over your dog’s nose.

Your dog will follow the treat, ultimately spinning around, In the end, use a clicker in the end so your dog knows that they did a good job and give them the treat.

You can also use a verbal approach where you give a cue such as the word “spin” and your dog ultimately spins.

But before you get to this level, you must say the word spin, use hands to spin in a circle, and then give them a treat.

6.) Playing dead

Your dog can also play dead. This is by teaching your dog through certain steps.

First, reinforce the base position by allowing your dog to go down with one hip. Second, lure your dog into the rest position and then give them lots of treats and let your dog rest their head.

By following these steps, your dog will be playing dead.

7.) Hug

The first step is to lure your dog into a sitting position. This happens by getting a treat and putting it in front of your dog’s nose.

When you put it above your dog’s nose, they will actually stand and let their paws up. Give them the treats right away when their paws are up.

After letting your dog stand for a few moments while holding their two paws, you can give them a hug and then give them a treat.

However, if your dog doesn’t feel comfortable, then back off from your dog.

8.) Teach a dog to crawl through a tunnel

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? |
Credited: dogster

1.) Use a treat to lure your dog to get down on his belly and crawl under a chair.

2.) Add an additional chair and repeat the above step.

3.) Keep adding chairs and gradually keep moving the treat further away so your dog will have an incentive to move.

Other tricks to teach your dog

You can teach your dog other tricks such as:

  • You have to teach your dog to put their toys away through certain commands
  • Opening doors
  • Carrying objects
  • Opening cupboards

Can your dog unlearn certain behaviors?

Older dogs can certainly unlearn behaviors that are not encouraged.

They have learned over the years certain behaviors that have become a habit for them.

Thus, it will take time before your dog can unlearn these behaviors but it is possible.

With proper training especially using positive reinforcement, your dog can learn new behaviors and forget about their old behaviors.


Dogs at any age can learn new tricks. It is through repetition and positive reinforcement that your dog will learn easily.

Through the use of certain tips, you can easily teach your older dog new tricks.

You can teach your dog tricks such as bark on command, fetch, spin, shake hands, and many others.

To know more about mountain bike with a dog, check How to Mountain Bike with A Dog Easily in Simple Steps.

Share with us your experience. Have you ever taught your older dog new tricks? Was it easy?

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Welcome to my bio everyone, my name is Nada. Ever since I was little, I have loved animals because they are so loving and kind. All they need is you attention, love, and care but I didn't understand them very well because I didn't get the chance to raise them. Well, That changed when my family and I got our first dog Rocky, a German Shepherd. Rocky was fun and loving with funny quirks. Being loyal and protective of us, he made me see the nature of a German Shepherd. Now, we have another German Shepherd named Mia. She is a wonderful dog and a rescue who just needed a second chance in life. Mia has long grown from being a terrified dog to the brave and caring German Shepherd that she is today. P.S: Here is a picture of our beautiful German Shepherd, Mia.

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