It is said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we think that if this is true, we wouldn’t have seen so many loaves of sourdough bread on our Facebook feeds during lockdown.
And science even backs up our amateur musings – researchers in Europe did some studies and noted that "Regular brain training shakes not only us, but also dogs out of their apathy in old age, increasing motivation and engagement and thus maximizing learning opportunities."
Obviously, puppies are easier to teach because they don’t have a bunch of bad habits they have to break first, but no matter the age of your canine companion, they can and will benefit from ongoing training – whether that means new tricks or basic toilet training.
Just like you and me, your dog is going to learn new things much more easily if they are relaxed, having fun or generally being motivated in some way. With chocolate cake being off the table for canines, we recommend something the Doggylicious Yoghurt Training Drops which are yummy and healthy.
One of the key tricks with dogs and training is repetition. We can make the mistake of thinking that because they cracked a new skill they will remember it. And that’s true in some cases, but like any of us, in a new situation they can be easily distracted and forget things.
Play games like the name game when you take them somewhere new. As soon as you get there, repeat their name five or six times and give them a treat to reward them when they turn their focus to you. It’s a lovely way to ground them before you try a different activity.
Encourage creativity and problem solving by hiding favourite toys and rewarding them when they return them to you. Get them moving by playing frisbee or taking them for walks where you encourage them to shadow you rather than pulling ahead on a lead.
When it comes to toilet training you need patience, routine and treats. Take your pup to their nominated toilet space outside just after they wake up, after playing, after eating and after being in a crate. Also learn to recognise their signs so you can get them outside in plenty of time. Toilet training works a lot better if you are rewarding them, not scolding them. If they do have an accident, a spray like Rufus & Coco Wee Away helps eliminate smells which might trigger a replay.
However, if it’s hard to provide numerous potty breaks for your puppy due to your schedule, mobility or if you live in an apartment for instance, pee pads can be a great way to develop an indoor routine that minimises mess and discomfort for both you and your pup.
A final word on this topic: don’t forget to reward yourself as well your pet for a good training session. Sometimes they aren’t the only ones that need reminding that they’re a good boy or girl!
THE WONDERPETS TEAM xx