Five years ago my husband and I rescued a 13 year old German Shorthair Pointer. She was a sassy and grumpy old gal who wouldn’t respond to verbal commands. I seriously thought she was deaf for the first week or so because she showed no signs of ever hearing anything I said, until one afternoon, while sleeping soundly on the floor, she sprung to her feet and cocked her head to the sound of birds chirping outside. This event made me realize that she was hearing what I was saying and simply ignoring me because that is what she had been getting away with in her life prior to us. I decided it was time for me to disprove the theory that “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks”. She did great within a few days of my training and I gained the off leash recall that I wanted so she could get her daily hike running off leash, as any true bird dog should. Unfortunately we discovered that she had cancer and we were forced to make the most difficult of decisions. She lived a great six months of chasing birds and bunnies and sleeping her days away either on the couch or outside in the sun. She was a joy and we loved her dearly. She taught us to love as well as how to let love go but Kayla also taught us that you absolutely can teach an old dogs new tricks!
As a professional dog trainer, I find that things come in waves. For example, one summer it seemed that I was training only Doberman Pinschers, then it was the winter of the German Shepherd next was aggressive dogs… seems to be the way it goes I guess. I like it that way actually because I always feel prepared. Well this spring seems to be the spring of “my dog is too old to train” or “my dog is set in his ways”. This just isn’t true, people! I have spoken with two families this week who were told by local trainers that their dogs are too old for them to train! These trainers never even saw the dogs. One family was even considering euthanasia for their 8 year old dog, but luckily they called me before they made that decision and I said WAIT! I know I can help. This case was clearly an alpha dog gone too far with the new dog in the house and I knew I could help the family. Please everyone, give old dogs a chance. It may be more difficult than training a puppy, but it is totally doable and rewarding!
Call me if you have an old dog who needs to learn a few “new tricks.”
Dog Gone Amazing Education Center