Mark Siebel • Doggie Steps Dog Training
Q. My husband and I are considering adopting a senior dog from a shelter. We’ve heard older animals are harder to get adopted because most people would like puppies, and we would like to help. We were wondering if it is, in fact, possible to teach an old dog new tricks, so to speak. Are older animals capable of being trained, or are they more set in their ways than a puppy would be in terms of behavior?
A. Thinking of adopting a senior dog? No problem. I can confidently say, “Yes,” old dogs can learn new tricks. I even “trained” my father to improve his manners at age 63 … so human behavior, just like dog behavior, can be adjusted and reconditioned at any age! A dog is considered an adult at age three and a senior at age seven. And again, just like human development, every dog’s maturity level varies, so training retention depends on the individual dog.
If you are being consistent with any new training routine, you should see positive changes in your dog’s behavior very quickly. Over 80% of dog training is actually reconditioning the human to change his or her behavior—and dogs naturally follow suit. Dogs like to feel the security of having a confident leader, so much of it is up to you to show your dog that you are in charge and you can take care of him.
Dogs are naturally routine based animals, so some changes will occur quicker than others. Above all, be patient, give your dog lots of love, and he will become a happy member of the pack in no time. Good luck and happy
ABOUT the Trainer
Mark Siebel, owner of Doggie Steps Dog Training, had his first dog at age ten. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Siebel knew from a young age that he had a natural attraction to dogs. He has appeared on TV, speaks regularly with local schools and youth groups about the importance of dog safety, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and the Australian Shepherd Club of AZ. He lives with two Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel.