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Is it ever too late to train your dog?

When it comes to the question of whether you can start training your dog later, the answer is always going to be it depends! It is never too late to start in training a dog in some areas no matter the age of the dog in question, but with a lot of things (like us humans) you just might find that older dogs take a little longer to train rather than not at all. However, as a dog gets older, health issues, learning history and cognitive decline may restrict your training in some areas. For example, with the best will in a world you couldn’t train a dog with serious arthritis to run in an agility competition, or to train a dog that has medical incontinence to hold their bladder and stop urinating in the house like you would a puppy. 

Ideally, you’ll start training your dog the day you bring them home. Whether you are looking to start housetraining your puppy or you bring home an older dog who needs to learn better behaviour, as long as there are no issues that we mentioned above, you can bet that it is still possible to be able to get your dog out of unwanted behaviour and help them feel confident. All that leash pulling and jumping up on people? It doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to be. If you have an adult dog at home, you can still teach them new tricks – you just have to have a little more patience than you would with a puppy. There are plenty of reasons you might not have managed to train your dog earlier on, but it doesn’t really matter – you can still train a dog in usual circumstances. 

There are some dog owners who start with basic obedience training and manners but then later on down the road, and issues become more prevalent. There are some more serious issue behaviour issues that you can help your dog with, even when they are older, for example, If your dog barks at other dogs on walks can be an issue that creeps up later in life, however with some small changes to their walks and kind, force free training, you can still change their behaviour – it just might take a little longer than if they were younger. 

Common reasons you’re training late:

Adopting an older dog

If you’ve adopted an older dog that has lived in a shelter for a while, you might find that their manners are out of practice. Rescue dogs have also sometimes been poorly treated, possibly have some trauma responses or simply not coped well with being out of routine while changing homes. These dogs, which comes with baggage that needs to be managed appropriately as they learn to trust you! It doesn’t matter why you chose an older dog; it’s rarely too late in training them into good habits.

You’ve had some life changes

If you have a family, you’ll be making changes with the pets in your home. 

They’ll need to learn how to act around a new baby, which can be a challenge. If you have big changes happening, you might want to teach your dog some new skills that they didn’t need before. Perhaps you’re moving to a rural area from a city, and your dog will need to learn how to walk on larger property and around different smells including prey animals – that’s another thing for them to learn to cope with. 

Training works at any point in a dog’s life, and whether you start the day you bring your puppy home or bring home an older dog, you can make dog training a fun, positive experience. Bring in the help of professionals if you’re worried about getting it wrong; they’re there to help you with getting your dog trained into good behaviours!