My friend, Janice, just adopted a three-year old beautiful Labrador from a local shelter. He is very shy and is she is going to have to take some time to acclimate him to her home and retrain him. The old adage that you can‘t teach an old dog new tricks isn’t really true and older dogs are sometimes easier to train than hyper puppies. It just takes time and patience.
The primary difference between teaching a puppy and teaching an adult dog is that puppies have an eager-to-please attitude and tend to be much more excitable. A little bit of age is not enough to make it impossible to train an older dog, especially not a three year old dog.
Below are some basic steps to help you train your dog.
Use positive reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement. While you may feel like your patience is being tested at times, you should never resort to punishment of any kind, because punishing your dog for not performing can have a negative effect, backfiring and preventing your training efforts from ever having the results you seek.
Decide which training method you want to implement
There are many training methods available to you, and each has its own rewards and drawbacks. It would be beneficial to explore numerous different types of training. If you are unsure of the different methods, it would be worth talking to a reputable dog trainer. They can refresh both you and your dog of the different training methods.
Focus on which tricks you are interested in teaching
Determine which tricks you are interested in teaching. There are a many different tricks that your dog can learn, but some are more important than others. Can your dog sit? Stay? Lay down on command? These are more important tricks to teach than fetch or roll over, but all can eventually be taught. However, don’t overwhelm your dog with too many tricks at one time. Focus on one and then move on to the next one.
Add other elements to your training
Consider adding additional elements into your training plan if none of your old standard plans work. Clicker training, for example, is an excellent means of keeping your dog's attention while giving commands. Your dog is essentially conditioned to hear the clicker and acknowledge it as your way of saying "Hey, listen to me, and you will get a treat." You can condition your dog to be assertive when you use the clicker, responding to you and whatever command you cite, knowing that you will give him a treat if the response is carried out.
Patience is key
The most important aspect is to be patient and work with your dog every day. Training a three-year old dog is not difficult, but just like with training any animal, it does take time, patience and understanding. And, of course, make your dog feel welcome and loved even if he takes a little longer to train.
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