Is a 5 year old dog too old to train? What to Know

Teach More Complicated Tricks After You Have the Simple Commands Down

Maybe you want to do more complicated tricks with your older dog, like scent tracking. This is absolutely possible, but its important to make sure your dog has mastered the basics, like “place,” “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Older dogs might pick things up a little more slowly; they really need that solid foundation of basic commands before learning complicated tricks.

After your pup has mastered the basics, you can try a new set of slightly more difficult commands. Consider tricks like “high five,” “speak,” and “kiss.” If your dog doesnt have hip issues, then a trick like “crawl” or “roll-over” could also be good. You might consider teaching your dog to retrieve something, like slippers or a leash. If shes good at this, she might be good at activities that revolve around scent retrieval.

Although older dogs can indeed learn new tricks, their age shouldnt be ignored. While your older dog may be eager to please you, sometimes what youre asking of him may be too painful or tiring to do. Your dog is not a puppy anymore. He may not be able to catch a ball on command over and over. Getting up and down to sit might hurt his hips, and crawling on the ground might hurt too. If you notice your dog obeys at first, then stops, it might just be that hes tired or hurting. Consider teaching some less physically demanding tricks like “speaking,” “shaking,” or giving a “high five.”6

Older dogs might have other physical limitations that interfere with obedience, like vision issues or trouble hearing. Talk with your veterinarian if this seems to be a possibility and adjust your training accordingly. A dog with vision issues might need to respond to verbal cues rather than gestures, and a dog with hearing problems might need to be trained with gestures rather than commands.

Not only is training fun, but teaching obedience to an older dog is also good for her health.7 Training stimulates her mentally and physically and helps her feel useful. But theres no shame in needing a little help. If youre not getting very far, it might just be that youre using the wrong techniques. Try enrolling in an obedience class for older dogs. This can be a fun adventure for you and your dog, and you might pick up some great tips that will help you along the way.

The keys to training an older dog are patience and positivity. Your dog may be a little slower to learn, but he really wants to learn. Give him the time he needs to catch on and keep the training positive. If you adopted him when he was older, you dont know if he had any bad experiences with training in the past. He might also have some “older dog” issues that distract him. Focus on making your training a positive, fun adventure that he looks forward to.

“Place” Is a Great First Trick to Teach

Youll have the most success with your older dog if you start with tricks that are easy to learn. Use these simple commands to build her confidence, then build to more complex commands.

One of the easiest commands to start with is teaching “place” using the K&H Original Pet Cot. Once learned, its a great help in “un-teaching” bad habits, like barking when the doorbell rings. Instead of barking, she can learn to go to her “place” and not get so worked up. If your dog is too old to jump on a cot for “place,” you can use a bed thats close to the ground, like the Ortho Bolster Sleeper.

Teaching “place” is a simple step-by-step process. First, gesture to the cot and praise your dog when she gets on it. Then say “free” and invite her to leave. Once she is consistently getting on the cot after seeing your gesture, begin saying “place” before you gesture. Each time she gets on the cot, give her a treat, say “free,” and encourage her to leave.

Over time, shrink the gesture until shes getting on the cot simply by hearing you say “place.” With repetition, shell respond to “place” and “free” without gestures.

After that, you can teach her to “place” herself based on specific sounds, like the doorbell. First, ring the doorbell, say “place,” and give her a treat when she gets on the cot. With repetition, shell eventually learn to go to the cot by habit whenever she hears the doorbell.

As an added bonus, its much easier to take your dog on trips with you once shes learned basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Why not reward your dogs perseverance by taking her for a car ride in her Bucket Booster Pet Seat and then going for a walk in a new area shes never visited?

Is It Ever Too Late to Start Training a Dog?

You may be wondering: Is a 1-year-old dog too old to train?

Rest assured that whether your adult dog is 1 or 10 years old, there are huge benefits to training now.

Training a dog — even an older one — can:

  • Create and grow the bond between you and your pet.
  • Establish trust and respect.
  • Help your dog become more enjoyable to live with.
  • Earn your dog more freedom and let them participate in your life more.
  • Keep your dog healthier — both physically and mentally.
  • Make your dog happier.
  • Allow you to keep a dog you would otherwise have to give up.
  • Training at its most basic level lets you communicate with your dog. What you communicate to them is up to you, but training paves the way for it.

    Ready to learn? Let’s get started with Part 1 of our expert guide to training an older dog.

    Is My Dog Too Old to be Trained?

    You’ve probably heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” — but what if that isn’t the whole truth?

    Although some things are best taught to dogs while they’re still young, your dog can still learn in any stage of their life.

    The process may be harder, and it may take longer with certain types of training, but all hope is not lost with your older dog — actually, far from it.

    When it comes dogs, there are several areas to discuss in this expert guide to training an older dog, including: