By Nan Talleno
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - It’s never too late to start to train your dog. Even a senior dog can learn something new; just make sure never to stress an older dog.
Address all medical issues first to be sure that your older dog is healthy and not in pain. Since canines have a high tolerance and threshold for pain, you may not be able to detect it right away. Medical issues and pain can severely affect behavior and should always be ruled out first. All seniors should have periodic check-ups to maintain good health.
Keep all training sessions to short intervals and simply repeat again at other times. Consistency is the key. Keep exercise age appropriate as well.
All dogs need to walk but a senior dog may not have much stamina and may need to walk less simply to reduce stress and to keep limber but not so much to deplete excess energy, so keep walks shorter and safe.
Observe how your senior dog reacts to certain situations. Is he/she suffering from arthritis, stiff joints, difficulty hearing or seeing? Is it becoming more difficult for your older dog to sit down and/or lie down? All those factors need to be considered. If so, just use the “stay” command instead of “sit” as the main task or command for your dog to follow. Practicing “stay” encourages your dog to focus on you.
Bottom line: always set your dog up to succeed. Your senior wants to feel productive and needed and following your gentle and clear leadership always allows a dog to feel safe and secure at any age.