An old dog can most certainly learn new tricks! There is nothing holding a senior dog back from learning new tricks, in fact it can be easy and fun. Senior dogs often have an easier time learning because their attention span is longer than younger dogs. Not only can they focus, but learning something new can help keep their mind sharp. Here are 3 tricks to keep your senior dog mentally stimulated.
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Walking backwards. Teaching your senior pet to walk backwards can help them think about using their body differently. This trick teaches your pet to be aware of where his back legs are going. Your senior pal will also become more aware of their body and the differences between the front end and the back end. This entertaining trick is good for mental and physical agility.
Steps to learn walking backwards:
- Have your dog stand facing you and take a step toward your dog. When the dog backs up with a step or two, stop walking, praise your dog and give them a treat.
- Once your dog has mastered one step, move on to a few more (four to five steps).
- As your dog becomes more comfortable with walking backwards, you can move less and eventually use hand movements or voice commands to have your dog perform this trick.
The Nose Game. This game is fun and can be played with pet’s whose sense of smell or eyesight has diminished, because they deserve to have fun too! The purpose of the game is for your pet to find a treat or toy by using their nose.
Steps to learn the nose game:
- Start by using a treat, bone, or favorite toy your dog likes to play with. While your pet is sitting in front of you, show them the treat, have them sniff it, and put it somewhere in plain sight (within the dogs reach), in the room for your dog to retrieve.
- Once the dog finds the treat and brings it back to you, praise them, and allow them to eat it or play with the toy for a few mintues.
- Repeat step 1 and 2 hiding the treat or toy in a different section of the room each time, until your dog understands the concept.
- After your dog has mastered this, begin taking your dog further away from the hiding spot, but still hide the treat in similar areas.
The Name Game. Keep your dog’s mind sharp by teaching them the name of objects and how to fetch them on command. Better for your aging dog than most tricks, the name game does not demand too much of your canine physically. It may take some time for your senior pal to grasp the name of each object, remember to start off with one or two objects. Once your dog has grasped the concept of the game and understands the name of an object, it will be easier to add more names to the game. Start off with your pet’s toys, or objects you want your dog to bring to you like hats or blankets.
Steps to learn the name game:
- Decide how you would like your pet to indicate an object. This can be done by using their paw(paw it), nose (nose it), or hand it to you. It may be easier for your dog to hand an object to you at first, especially if the goal is for your pet to bring items to you from a distance.
- Start with one object (hat, dog toy, etc.). Point at the object and name it before the dog indicates it. Each time the dog successfully indicates the object, praise them and reward with a treat.
- After several successful attempts by pointing and naming the object, stop pointing and try naming it only.
- Once your dog can successfully identify one object, add a second object that is very different in name and look.
- Eventually, you can alternate between the objects your pet has learned.
Remember to be patient with your dog as learning a new trick takes time.
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