Ask @TheFurMom | Is it Ever Too Late to Train a Dog?

July 10, 2013

Ask the Fur Mom, Dog Training

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I received an email from a dog mom who inspired me to pose this question to you – Is it ever too late to train a dog?  When Rodrigo and Sydney hit adolescence, Sydney was heavenly; Rodrigo was a terror and I wondered if I needed to rehome him – he didn’t listen, he was constantly roaming, the destroyed things – he was a terror!  So I made an appointment with our dog trainer and we got our dog back.

Is it Ever Too Late to Train a Dog, Dog Training, Dog Obedience Training

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Hi! I have a 9 month old Labradoodle, A…, and I’m afraid it’s too l late to get him to start listening to me! He has a very energetic personality! He loves people, and cannot just sit (he does try, but his excitement gets the best of him) when me and husband have company, or if I take him out (park, vet…). Alex will jump and lick and “bite”. (he doesn’t bite to hurt, just play) He knows simple commands, like sit, lay down, and he can shake, but once he gets too excited, everything is out the window! How can I get him to listen to me, even in his most excited situations?

First, thank you for sending me an email.  I appreciate you trusting me to help you.

If you want to chat on the phone, we can chat this weekend to clarify anything I share, but let me just tell you that it’s never too late to teach your dog.  If I were in your shoes, and I kind of am with Blue, this is what I would do…

1.  Set aside 10 minutes a day for training.  I picked up a clicker at Petco for a couple bucks and it’s a life saver.  Now when I pull out the clicker, our dogs know that it’s training time and they come to me and sit immediately.  I only train for 5-10 minutes to keep them from getting bored.  Since you have one dog it’s much easier.  You click the clicker to mark good behavior.  Start walking around with it and if your dog sits (even on his own), click the clicker the second his butt hits the floor and then praise him tons for “good sit.”  Do the same when he lies down, if he keeps his paws on the floor, everything.  We even clicked for quiet dogs even if they’re just laying around doing nothing.

If you need a great training book, check out: Love That Dog Training Program

2.  Go for a walk for at least 30 minutes a day, that will satisfy your dog’s energy.  With Blue, we have to either walk him for a few miles or play with him (tossing a ball, throwing a Frisbee) for 30 minutes a day or he can be a nightmare.  Many trainers say that an exercised dog is a well behaved dog.  I would stop taking him to the park until you have better control of his manners.  One thing I see other dog owners do is take their dog to the park at low visitor times so that there aren’t so many distractions and their dog can spend some time walking and slowing taking in the sounds and smells.

3. When you have company, either put your dog in a kennel or in a separate room.  If he’s not kennel trained, now is a great time to start.  What you can do is put in him a kennel for a few minutes each day – increasing the time each time.  I would give him a favorite chew toy or a Kong to keep him occupied.  I fill our Kongs with kibble and peanut butter and then freeze them so that I always have one ready for our dogs.

4.  Get some training treats so that you can treat good behavior.  You have such a happy dogs that you can probably treat with attention.  That’s how we trained Blue.  We would just give him lots of love and attention.  We do it for all of our dogs now.  But treats are fun.  One easy treat that I like and the dogs love is string cheese.  I just pinch off chunks for them – it’s inexpensive and easy to carry around.

5.  Check out those TV dog training shows.  I know that there are mixed feelings about television dog trainers, but one value that I believe they add is showing us that we’re not alone and they can offer up some great tips.  From Cesar Milan, I learned about consistency, confidence and the importance of daily exercise.  From Victoria Stilwell, I learned how to mark good behavior, some great dog walking tips, and creating an area to go for the dogs – our dogs understand “go to your blanket.”

That’s what I have for now.  Best of luck.  If you can, hire a trainer.  In some areas, they’re crazy expensive.  I would check with your veterinarian or local pet store for recommendations.  If you’re on a budget, let them know.  Many trainers are such passionate dog lovers that they’ll work with your budget.  Ask them if they can just give you one session sharing tips on how to use a clicker and other quick tips.  That doesn’t take long.

Thanks again for the email, B…

~ Kimberly

 

Now it’s your turn! What advice would you offer to this writer-inner.  Is it ever too late to train a dog?

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20 Responses to “Ask @TheFurMom | Is it Ever Too Late to Train a Dog?”

  1. Jana Rade Says:

    Nope, it’s never too late. Dogs are awesome students. That’s because the watch, observe and do what works. All we have to do is to make sure that what works is what we want. ALWAYS. That’s the hard part. But the ball is in our court.
    Jana Rade recently published..Rory’s Syringomyelia: Plea For RoryMy Profile
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  2. Addie A. Mcmillan Says:

    This sounds risky, but it doesn’t have to be if you can identify a place that’s fenced or otherwise contained, such as a narrow strip of land extending out into the water (a cape or peninsula). The place, however, should be unfamiliar to your dog and it should have trees or other structures that you can hide behind. To minimize distractions, take your dog at a time when people or dogs aren’t likely to be in the area. Let her off leash and let the leash drag on the ground. (If you’re concerned that you might not catch her again, attach her to a long line (a lightweight leash or rope that’s at least 20 feet long). Walk along and wait for your dog to get distracted by something. When she’s not looking at you, silently duck behind a tree or large rock. Don’t say anything to her. Wait for her to notice your absence. This can take just a few seconds for some dogs. For others, it can take minutes. Most dogs will eventually look for their pet parents.
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  3. Debbie Says:

    Agree, it’s never too late. We have a Berner that “has” her CGC. And, I myself, who took her to the training and was so proud of her, am wondering how the heck she got it. We have moved a few times in a short period and I think she has just decided that all that stuff she learned doesn’t apply now that we are somewhere different. If I specifically work with her and she realizes we are in “training” mode she does pretty well, but when that’s over she’s back to everything is play now. I have been trying, her whole life, she is 5, to get her to go get the ball or anything and bring it back to me. I know when she does bring something to me I give her treats and praise but…..any suggestions on how to get her to go get it in the first place? I throw it and she stands there and looks at me like “what’d ya do that for, now you have to walk all the way over there and get it.”
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    • Kimberly Says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Debbie!

      I know what you mean. We had the same thing and it took us finding a toy that our dog wanted to go get. They like balls for the house and a frisbee for outside. Have you tried a dog frisbee? Another thing we’ve done is get crazy excited during the game – so I’d throw the ball or frisbee and my boyfriend woudl go after it and the dogs would go after him – it didn’t take long before they started reaching the toy first. It took lots of patience, but they do it now.
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      • Debbie Says:

        She will run back and forth with me and my husband and have a ball, but not after something. Tried the frisbee and running after it myself and she runs after me but when we get there she just looks at me. I’ll tell her to get it and I still get that “you threw it” look, BOL. We’re working on it though. We’ve been working on the weave poles, she’s gotten good at that.
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  4. SlimDoggy Says:

    Of course it’s never too late. We got Jack when he was 7-8 years old. He was a complete maniac and at 105lbs a complete wrecking crew. First thing we did was get him on a diet & exercise routine (a tired dog is a good dog) and then we called a dog trainer. If you can’t afford that there’s all sorts of self-help, TV shows and even free classes offered at your local pet store. The main thing is a consistent set of expectations and consequences – just like for kids. Jack’s behavior turnaround 100% when we started working with him everyday. Most dogs really aim to please, you just have to be clear in what you expect of them. Its when you are inconsistent that they get confused and try to figure it out themselves…hence the misbehavior. Good luck!
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  5. emma Says:

    We don’t think it is ever to late…just like humans we learn our whole lives. My sister actually went to puppy school at 3 because all of the sudden she was out of hand. We learn new stuff now and then and play training games. Learning is fun and we can do it as long as we live.
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  6. Ann Staub Says:

    I agree! And 9 months old is still pretty young. I’m actually trying to train my dog some new things and she’s 10 years old. She’s actually doing very well and is listening to me better instead of being stubborn like she used to be. These are all very nice tips I think.
    Ann Staub recently published..Social Pet Saturday: Thanks!My Profile

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  7. Human Rescues Dog Says:

    Labradors are so smart and trainable – at any age. My dog is 4 years old now and he still learns things at lightning fast speed – all you need are some low-calorie treats for them to be motivated (we use tiny pieces of liver treats, but you can use tiny bits of sausage). You also have to be very consistent with training, because a smart dog can sometimes mean a stubborn dog who doesn’t want to learn things your way. :) So patience, perseverence and treats go a long way!
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  8. Edmond Fowler Says:

    To start the training: say “Sit” while gently pressing her rump down and holding a toy above her head. Go over this with her several times a day for 5 or more minutes. Soon you won’t have to use the toy or press her rump down. Practice, practice, practice. And do be patient, some dogs progress faster than others.
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  9. Suz @PetHostr Says:

    Completely agree with the little and often approach. I’ve always trained older rescue dogs and found it quite remarkable what they can learn with a little love, patience and time!

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    • Kimberly Says:

      So very true, Suz

      We’re in the process of training our dogs to use a new doggy door. Blue got it first; Sydney has it, but she likes me to open the door for her (Princess Pretty Paws), and Rodrigo isn’t 100% convinced, but he’s getting there. We’ve found that there are some things that I can teach them and some things that Johan can teach them. Johan has trained them on each of our doggy doors and it’s amazing what he can accomplish with them.

      Thanks for stopping by!
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  10. Christopher James Says:

    Nope. it’s never too late. I had a 7 year old dog once and had it trained.
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