Do you have a senior dog? If so, then you know that it’s important to keep them engaged and active. Teaching your pup new tricks can help maintain their mental and physical health, keeping them happy and healthy into their golden years.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But luckily, there are plenty of tricks that an older dog can learn. Read on to learn 15 tricks you can teach your senior dog:
The 15 Fun & Easy Tricks You Can Teach a Senior Dog
1. Spin in a Circle
This is an easy trick that any age dog can learn. Simply stand in front of your pup, hold out a treat and say “spin”. You may have to mimic the motion yourself for your dog to get the hang of it. When they spin in a circle, reward them with the treat. As training progresses, you can increase the number of circles they need to spin before receiving their treat.
2. Shake Hands
This trick is fun and easy for an older dog to learn. Hold out your hand and say “shake” as your pup sniffs it. Place your dog’s paw in your hand the first few times to show them what to do. When they paw at your hand, reward them with a treat and lots of praise!
3. High Five
This trick builds on shaking hands – once your dog knows how to shake, teach them to give a high five instead! Simply hold up your hand instead of holding it out. Bring your dog’s paw up to your hand and say, “high five”. Reward them as soon as they touch it with their paw.
Your senior dog will love learning this cute trick! To teach them to beg, simply get them into the sitting position and say “beg”. Hold the treat in front of their nose and as soon as they raise their paws, reward them with lots of praise!
5. Roll Over
This is a more advanced trick, but it can be taught to an older dog with patience and persistence. Start by getting your pup into the lying-down position and place a treat just above their head. As they try to reach for it, move your hand slowly over their side until they roll onto their back. Use the verbal cue, “roll over” as you do this so that they learn to do it on command. Reward them when they do this successfully!
6. Speak/Bark on Command
Teaching your pup to bark or speak on command can be lots of fun! Start by getting them into the sitting position and wait for them to bark or make a noise. As soon as they do, say “speak” and reward them with a treat.
This classic game is always fun – even for an older pup! Start by throwing a ball (or toy) a short distance away from your pup. As soon as they grab it and bring it back to you, reward them with lots of praise and treats.
8. Go to Bed/Crate/Mat
If you want your senior dog to settle down in their bed or crate on command, then this trick is perfect! Start by guiding them into the area you want them to rest in and say, “go to bed/crate/mat”. As soon as they settle down, give them a treat and lots of praise.
9. Jump Through a Hoop
This is a fun trick that can help your senior pup stay active! Start by introducing them to the hoop slowly, gradually encouraging them to jump through it by bringing a treat or their favorite toy through the hoop. Once they are comfortable with jumping through the hoop on their own, say “jump” before rewarding them with treats and praise.
10. Wave Goodbye
This is an adorable trick that any age dog can learn! Stand in front of your pup and hold out your hand, saying “wave goodbye” as you move it up and down. When they paw at your hand, reward them with lots of praise and a treat.
11. Jump Up on a Chair/Couch
This is a useful trick that can be taught to an older dog. Start by guiding them onto the furniture with treats and slowly increase the number of steps they need to take before receiving the reward. This can also help to keep your dog active.
12. Play Dead
This trick is sure to impress your friends – once your pup has mastered it! Start by getting them into the lying-down position and hold out a treat, saying “play dead” in a low and slow voice. As soon as they roll onto their back, reward them with lots of praise and treats!
13. Hide & Seek
This is a great game for an older dog to learn – it can keep them entertained for hours! Start by hiding behind a chair or curtain and calling your pup’s name until they find you. When they do, reward them with lots of treats and praise. You can also reverse roles so that your pup has to hide from you!
14. Take a Bow
For this trick, get your pup into the sitting position then say, “take a bow”. This is another trick that you may have to demonstrate to your dog or maneuver your dog into the position at first. When they reach out their front legs and dip their head, reward them with lots of praise and treats. This trick can be useful when you want to show off your pup’s tricks during visitors!
15. Ring a Bell to Go Outside
This is an adorable and useful trick that will save you time when letting your pup out into the garden! Hang a bell by the door and every time you go to let your pup out ring the bell. Give them the command “ring a bell” and your dog will eventually associate the bell with needing to go outside. As soon as they paw it, reward them with plenty of praise and treats.
FAQs for Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
What is the best way to start teaching an old dog new tricks?
The best way to start teaching an old dog new tricks is by rewarding them with lots of praise and treats when they obey commands or complete a trick successfully. This will help reinforce good behavior and keep your pup motivated!
How long should I expect the process to take?
This can vary depending on your pup’s age, but it usually takes around 6-8 weeks for most dogs to learn new tricks. Start off slowly with simple tasks and build up from there – this will make learning easier for both you and your pup.
What if my old dog doesn’t seem interested in learning?
If your pup isn’t interested in learning, it could be due to age or a lack of motivation. Try introducing new treats and toys into the training process, as well as breaking down complex tricks into smaller steps. This will help keep your pup engaged and make learning easier for them!
What should I do if my dog makes mistakes?
If your pup makes mistakes, don’t scold them – simply start over from the beginning and reward them when they get it right. Rewarding positive behavior is key when teaching an old dog new tricks.
How often should I practice with my dog?
It is best to practice with your pup at least once a day for around 10-15 minutes. This will help them learn faster and keep them engaged in the process!
What tricks are best for an old dog?
Tricks like taking a bow, playing dead, jumping up on a chair/couch, waving goodbye and ringing a bell to go outside are all great options for an older pup. These simple commands are easy to learn and are sure to impress your guests!
Is it possible to teach my dog multiple tricks at once?
Yes – although it’s best to focus on one trick at a time until your dog has mastered it before introducing another trick into the mix. This will make learning easier for both of you!
What if my dog gets frustrated?
If your dog starts to show signs of frustration, take a break and come back to the task at hand later. Frustration can be discouraging for both you and your pup – try not to rush them into learning too quickly!
What should I do if my dog forgets a trick?
Don’t worry – this is normal! If your pup seems to have forgotten a trick, simply go back to the basics and practice it again until they remember it.
Is teaching an old dog new tricks beneficial?
Yes – teaching your pup new tricks keeps them engaged and mentally stimulated, which can help stave off boredom and keep them active as they age. Plus, they’ll be sure to impress your guests!
Teaching an old dog new tricks is not only possible, but it can be a lot of fun as well! With patience and plenty of rewards, your pup will be sure to pick up these tricks in no time. Have fun and enjoy the process – you’ll be surprised at how quickly your dog learns!
Happy Training! 🙂
Featured Image Credit: Luca Nichetti, Shutterstock