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Saturday, October 11, 2008 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Metaphorically speaking, an old dog is apparently incapable of learning new tricks. Just witness the thousands of lame sitcom jokes about hapless husbands forgetting to put the toilet seat down. In a literal sense, however, an elderly pooch is more than capable of mastering a new skill.

PetPlace.com writes that you can teach an old dog new tricks -- it just requires a little patience. Dogs develop their personality when they're puppies, and it rarely changes. For example, a fearful puppy will likely remain that way through its adult years. Still, owners can teach dogs of any age how to behave in certain situations.

First, try rewarding positive behavior rather than punishing negative behavior. "For example, give your dog a treat for sitting, lying down or stopping barking."

Second, use a "conditional stimulus" to command the desired behavior. Give these cues only once. If the dog follows your command immediately, give him or her a reward. If the dog doesn't act quickly, don't give a reward.

Oh, and perhaps most importantly, never call your dog over to receive punishment. This is confusing to the dog and sends the wrong message.

So don't let your dog's gray fur and creaky joints stop you from teaching him or her new tricks. Senior dogs are happy to learn, as long as they have a consistent teacher who hands out plenty of treats.

Source: ask.yahoo.com

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