How to Train Your Dog – Can Older Dogs Be Trained?

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How to Train Your DogMany people believe that dogs can only be trained when they’re young. Learning how to train a puppy is certainly a more popular topic than how to train a dog (i.e. an older dog). But despite the old adage “You can’t teach a old dog new tricks”, it is definitely possible to teach a dog of virtually any age new behaviors and yes, tricks.

Potty training puppies is certainly preferable to leaving this task until the dog is older, but perhaps you’ve adopted an older dog whose previous owner never bothered to learn how to house train a dog. Maybe the dog was kept outside previously.
Dogs can become somewhat set in their ways, and be less inclined to be interested in learning.

My dogs tend to look at me a little suspiciously these days if I try to introduce a new command. But once they get the idea that I’m giving them a new way to please me, it doesn’t take them too long to start to comply.

Effective dog training is best achieved by a reward method, or by a combination of reward and correction. The reward training method, as the name suggests, involves rewarding your dog when s/he does something you like, and a training method that also incorporates correction involves correcting your dog when s/he does something you don’t like.

Good training naturally must establish an appropriate relationship between you and your dog, and very importantly must ensure that your dog understands what you want of him/her.

The idea is to teach your dog to make his own decisions (believe it or not!) Not complicated decisions, of course, – just whether to do something or not. If your dog makes the right decision, then you reward him/her. If your dog makes the wrong decision, you can elect to issue a correction, and the opportunity to then choose the right decision. Or incorrect behaviors can be ignored in the reward training only method. Simple!I’ve been reading “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer” by Adam Katz: It reminded me of an absolutely crucial point when training a dog – the fact that consistency is critical with your dog.How to Train Your Dog

Because your dog is always looking for opportunities to elevate him/herself in the heirachy of your household, even just a little bit … if you don’t insist on a certain behavior every single time, or conversely if you allow a misbehavior even once, your dog can end up receiving a mixed message about what dog behaviors are not acceptable and what dog behaviors s/he can get away with.

As an example, if you’ve taught your dog to come when called, the only way you can be certain s/he will come every single time you give the command, is if you don’t give your dog a choice until you’re 100 percent certain your dog will respond to your command every single time.

So the question then arises – how to train your dog to ensure that you’re 100 percent certain your dog will respond every time. Well, one way of doing this is with a long leash or rope, so you can make your dog come each time you call him/her.

Adam’s dog training ebook is over 300 pages long and explains all of this in much greater detail and not only tells you exactly how to train your dog to respond to specific commands, but also the most effective ways to prevent unwanted behaviors, and how to train your dog in order that you’ll end up with a much better behaved dog in general.

What I really like about Adam’s strategies is that his methods utilize your dog’s natural instincts and drives, and because you treat your dog as if s/he is a member of your pack, rather than a child of your household, you actually end up with a happier dog. I know it may be tempting to “baby” your dog and treat them like your children, but they are dogs, and it stands to reason therefore that they’re happier being treated like loved pets instead of like surrogate children which they’re really not!

Some of the methods described in Adam’s ebook are somewhat controversial, but I’d really recommend that you read the arguments he puts forward and make your own decision. Granted, Adam’s ebook is not a literary masterpiece – actually it doesn’t flow as well as it might, and it’s somewhat repetitive – but the information contained in it is priceless. How to Train Your Dog

And this is just one of an enormous number of resources available inside Adam’s membership site.

You can see whether the membership site is something you and your dog can benefit from by going to this website – just click on the link and take a look:

There is one matter on which I really take issue with Adam, though, and that’s his views on shelter dogs. He recommends against getting shelter dogs. I absolutely disagree with this sentiment, one hundred percent. For some people – people who have never had a dog and have young children, for example, a decision to adopt a shelter dog should not be taken lightly. Many (although not all) shelter dogs have been mistreated, and they need time to develop trust with a new owner. But they can be wonderful companions, and it’s such a rewarding thing to be able to save a dog from being put down.

One other matter that Adam advocates is to use a prong collar. I also have reservations in relation to using prong collars and electronic “shock” collars. Personally I wouldn’t use either myself.

But as I say, Adam does have some great ideas and you’ll find lots of very helpful information in his membership site, whatever your particular training philosophies are.

About Brigitte Smith

Brigitte Smith is an entrepreneur with a love of dogs and a healthy lifestyle. Brigitte is passionate about holistic health alternatives for dogs, most of which are today suffering foreshortened lifespans in the wake of a lifetime diet of commercial pet food, and further contributed to by unnecessary over-vaccination and chemicals and poisons applied topically and internally. is one of Brigitte's sites dedicated to dog health, and in particular dog food reviews.

15 thoughts on “How to Train Your Dog – Can Older Dogs Be Trained?

  1. Helen

    Hi Brigitte

    I like you do not agree with Adams opinion of above. While never having a dog from a shelter I have over the years had dogs from people who rescued dogs from stray situations.

    My collie Joy is a rescued now quite old 13 years. Initially when I got her she would pee or cringe if you raised your voice but she turned out to be a wonderful dog and is a THERAPY dog for many years.

    Previously I had an abandoned Boxer Lab cross and she was wonderful with children etc and most amusing dog. She didnt like men in general but was fine with individual men. She had been illtreated anmd had a burn on her back where the hair did not grow. She was a dog in a million and died many years ago of cancer.

    Another collie cross I had was rehomed from a family with children who when the father went to work abroad was too much for the wife to cope with . She was a quiet old thing and lived to be over 14 years.

    Alternatively I have King Charles Spaniel now who I took four years ago when my cousin died, and he wasnt neglected but wasnt socialised enough and was left by himself when she was at work. He was harder to retrain and socialise that all the illtreated and stray dogs put together. He barked at everything from cars to other dogs who he still barks at if he doesnt know them. He is extremely lovable and friendly and recently passed the assessment to be a Therapy Dog. My collie Joy had a calming influence on him as she is very placid.

    Bye for now

  2. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Helen,

    That’s amazing – particularly the fact that the one dog that wasn’t abandoned was the most difficult to socialise!


  3. Kelly

    Hi Helen

    Can you please email me? – kelly.aguirre @ – I have a couple of questions i wanted to ask you. I recently adopted a stray dog and I would like to know how you did with your dog, to transform him into a house dog.


  4. Joyce Gerlach

    My dog will bark at everyone and other dogs. She will pull when on a leach if she sees anyone else or other dogs. She is a standard schnauzer and strong. Other dogs and people are afraid of her. She only wants to play with the dogs. Any ideas how to get her to walk on a leach and not pay attention to other people and dogs. Thanks for any help

  5. tracey gray

    I have a 12 month old dalmation who is proving difficult to train, he is only interested in playing all the time. When it comes to recall he plays the chasing game, he will eventually return if I walk away but will not respond to come, he sits and waits till I go to get him and runs away waiting for the chase. He will do anything for treats but not at any other times. Any suggestions !!!

  6. Brigitte Smith

    Hey Joyce,

    I know what you mean about both the strength, and other dogs and people being afraid.

    That was the case with Kara, my Rottweiler, when she was young.

    Getting a dog to walk on a leash is often not an easy task, and you may need to try several different tactics. But start off by keeping her on a very short leash, and pull immediately and sharply every time she tries to pull ahead (yes, I know, that’s probably every couple seconds). But you need to persevere.

    A halti type collar can also help.

    Other than that, you should either buy a book (or ebook) on dog training, or join a membership training site like Adam’s – see above or click here – or consult a professional dog trainer.


  7. Brigitte Smith

    Hey Tracey,

    All I can say is, keep on with more of what you’re doing.

    It sounds as if your Dalmation does know what you want him to do, and is choosing not to do it because it’s fun not to!

    When using the treats, what I suggest you do is repeat the same action that you want him to do several times over and over again. Give him a treat for, say the first 6 times. Then don’t give a treat. Then give another, say 2 times. Then don’t give one.

    The theory is that the dog will do the action for the treat, but eventually he will be so used to following the command that he will do it without ever receiving a treat. It does work – some dogs just take longer than others.


  8. Justine

    Hi Brigitte

    I have adopted a male Daschound, he is turning four this year.
    I have a problem of him marking his terrirtory around the flat, mainly on the corners of my furniture..!What can I do to prevent him from doing this or help the situation. I do have two females who are indoor dogs and are potty trained… Sometimes he does try show dominancy towards them as well, the one is an American Toy Terrior (1.5years old) and the other is a Daschound (9 months

    Kind Regards,


  9. Gale

    I took in a male Cavalier who was confined to a crate in a puppy mill for 4 years, coming out only to donate sperm. When I got him, he had no idea where his back legs were, was not toilet trained and had many, many issues, including trust and confidence ones.

    That was at the beginning of November; it’s May now, and he does stairs like an athlete, his tail is still wagging, climbs in and out of the car with no problem, comes when called, heels beautifully, and his stay is almost rock solid. Like my other Cavaliers, he LOVES to practice. He now plays, and interacts with other dogs, protects the kitten and lets her do anything to him, including taking food from his mouth.

    He has only had a few peeing accidents in the house, and some of them were as a result of me coming home from shopping or a trip to town, so now, when I am ready to go out, he runs to a crate so that I can put him in there. He doesn’t mark in my house, but when we visit a house where there is another male, he will mark there, but I have a belly band for those occasions.

    Knowing what a breed’s personality is, and tapping into it to bring out a good dog from a damaged one is the way to go.

    Rescues are known escape artists, and I almost had a heart attack when a woman knocked on my front door and my original boy came down to meet her, and when I saw a second dog, I thought it was my female, but it was my rescue. I told both of them to get back into the house, and they both did.

    Most people cannot believe the difference in the dog in less than 6 months. He is so bonded with me that I would not be able to rehome him if I wanted to… he won’ t listen to anyone else but me.

  10. Brigitte Smith

    Hey Justine,

    Hopefully you’ve sorted this problem out by now. Sorry, I didn’t see your comment earlier.

    Hey Gale,

    What a heartwarming story. Thanks so much for that.


  11. Trish

    Dear Brigitte,

    I read your e-mails with interest, but the above post has slightly riled me in you recommending Adam’s book when he is doing so much damage by stating do not get a dog from a shelter.

    I work voluntary with a rehoming organisation here in Cyprus called CYDRA (Cyprus Dogs Rehoming Association) and we work with the shelters on the island. Firstly we have rehomed over 200 dogs so far this year and I myself have three rescue dogs, plus one foster dog at the moment. After having pedigree dogs for many years in the UK, I can honestly say that a rescue dog is more loyal, more obedient once trained (this training normally only takes 2-3 days as they are so grateful) and gives all the love s/he can. As I sit typing this I have tears in my eyes when I think of the little foster dog I have at the moment who was in death row in a municipality dog pound until one of our workers saw her and knew that with her brilliant temperament and good looks she would be rehomed quickly and she flies to her forever home next week.

    Maybe Adam should come to Cyprus and see how quickly our shelter dogs settle down into a home, as the fostering is done for 4-5 weeks to get the dog used to being in a home environment getting lots of TLC and a lot of the time no training is required it is just a natural instinct for them to want to please as they are so happy to be out of a shelter.

    Sorry to have ranted on a bit, but it is a subject close to my heart.


  12. Brigitte Smith

    Dear Trish,

    It’s actually a membership site that Adam has, as opposed to a book. The other product I refer to, which I personally prefer, (the dog training link) is in fact an ebook.

    I understand your concern. The thing is that Adam’s site is actually quite helpful. And I state very clearly that I do NOT agree with him on the issue of shelter dogs.

    I agree with you completely.

    It’s a fantastic job that you are doing.


  13. Isabela

    my dog ran away from the house of the person who was taking care of him when i went on vacation. i have no idea what to do.

  14. Greg

    Any miracle advice or suggestions on how to motivate a husky to stay and come on command when OFF the leash?

    I have a siberian husky.
    He always has to be on a leash, and when called he would not come unless you had a treat in your hand. Days of trying to get
    him to come on command without having a treat would end frustrating unfruitful.

    Any miracle advice or suggestions on how to motivate a husky to stay and come on command OFF the leash?

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