Where some think you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, you couldn’t actually be further from the truth. It is possible to help any dog learn new skills; you just need to find the right motivation for them.
This may be food, toys or praise, it may even be a fun game – either way, it’s always worth having some dog safety commands in your arsenal, especially around the city.
You never know when they may come in handy!
THE MOST IMPORTANT DOG SAFETY COMMAND: COME (CONSISTENT RECALL)
Not surprisingly top of our list, recall is the most important safety command thing to teach any dog; especially if they are a service dog or support animal.
Recall in the very situation you need it isn’t about what you have to offer at that moment, it’s about what has come before.
This is why we advocate reward in every recall.
For the sake of some treats or a play with a toy, you may keep your dog out of danger one day!
TO TEACH RECALL, START WITH A TOY OR TREAT IN YOUR HAND.
Moving backwards, encourage your dog to follow you, luring with the treat/toy.
As you are, say their name with “come!” You want to make it fun! Next, start with your dog around a foot in front of you, and again lure him towards you with the treat or toy.
Label the behavior.
Moving on, you need to increase the distance between you and your dog. You may ask a helper to hold their collar.
As soon as your dog gets to you, reward them. When this is infallible, you can start introducing distractions. You may have another person stand in the way or to the side. You may need to become more animated and jovial or even find some higher value treats. If your dog goes to the distraction, simply return him back to the start and try again.
Reward every successful recall. Every time.
Another saving grace in the city, this command could keep your dog from walking into oncoming traffic!
Start by encouraging your dog to come towards you, just by calling his name.
As he comes to wards you, throw treats behind him.
He will stop to eat them. As he does, label the behaviour, “stop!” Repeat. You need to continue until you can get to the stage where you can ask your dog to stop and then throw the treat.
Some owners choose to add “sit!” or “down!” on to this command, but train them separately and ensure they are infallible before you combine them.
Another dog safety command, “leave it” is a necessary one for those scavenging dogs!
Start by holding a treat in a closed hand. Your dog will likely sniff at it. Don’t let him have it. As soon as he turns or looks away, give him the treat.
You want him to learn that even when he ignores the good thing, some other good thing happens anyway! Repeat.
As he turns away, label the behavior “leave!” Then give him the treat. Repeat several times.
You may progress to holding the treat in an open hand or leaving it on the floor.
All of these progressions solidify the command in your dog’s mind so that one day you’re walking past some moldy food on the sidewalk, you can be sure you’re not going to be spending the night with a sick dog!
Be mindful when teaching any senior dog any new command or skill.
As dogs age, their vision and hearing can deteriorate.
Whilst you may think they’re ignoring you, they may in fact just not be seeing your gestures or hearing your command.
If you are concerned about your dog’s health and the impact it’s having on his training or even his safety, pop in to see your veterinarian.
They will help identify any issues and you can consider alternative strategies. Like always, you have the leash for a reason. With the more senior dog, it can keep them close and out of danger.
Need some high-reward healthy training treats? Try Wholesome Pride Dog Treats.
Article Written by John Woods – Founder of All Things Dogs