Eleven year old chocolate Labrador Echo has been coming to my Clavering class since February, and has really, really demonstrated how valuable training can be for older dogs.
The principle I teach is essentially clicker training, whereby the dog is rewarded for good choices, and careful management avoids accidental wrong choices, so the dog has a high rate of success. Then, much like a computer game, we up the challenges, always tempering the plan to suit the dog and keep her interested, and eager to keep trying.
Echo’s older sister was 16 when Echo joined us. Her owners knew Amber had limited time, but Echo had always just followed Amber, she didn’t really know how to do anything alone - a very common senario in multi dog households. Amber died a few weeks later and of course Echo slumped a little in mourning the loss of her friend, but to see her today, she's awesome!
Echo has had her second swimming lesson this week with 3 Counties k9 hydrotherapy, but with me she’s learned to read cue cards, sign language, weave poles, scent detection (sit when she smells coffee in a cup!), find keys balls and teddies hidden in hedgerows, follow a persons track and much more!
I am really thrilled with Echo's achievements, especially as I am so frequently asked if I think that dogs over the 5 or even younger are too old to train.
The answer is most definitely not! The more you teach your dog, the more are infact helping to keep them young, in both body and mind!