Can you teach an old dog to behave differently? Well, yes most certainly! Dogs of all ages are trainable and enjoy learning new things or refreshing practised skills. Dogs learn through repetition and association. Many adopted or rescued dogs have proven they are joyfully willing to adapt behaviours when treated fairly, with patience and consistency.
A reward-based program is easily put in place using one or more of the common rewards: treats, toys, praise or play. A reward is only that, IF your dog sees it as a reward. If your dog is treat-motivated – use treats, and so on. Treats are then phased out using a system fair to the dog.
I have had the pleasure to rehabilitate many older dogs, aged 10 years plus. There is a mindset that older dogs cannot be taught to behave differently, but that is false. An older dog’s life can be enhanced by “jobs”, i.e: mental and physical stimulation. The stimulation contributes to the dog’s longevity, and a better and more comfortable quality of life. Short quality sessions are beloved by our older dogs. To interact with us and receive praise is a huge reward for dogs at all ages.