HOW RESCUED DOGS LEARN TO LEARN
Recently rescued Benny came in for some obedience training, since whoever had him first did not work with him.
This is a fairly typical situation with rescued dogs. But what’s also typical is that he is eager to learn and is doing wonderfully!
The trick is teaching the dog to “learn to learn”.
Just as with people, it gets more difficult for dogs to learn as they get older. When a dog hasn’t learned any commands throughout his or her life, they don’t understand why we’re offering them a treat or a toy and that they should do something in return. Many dogs I’ve worked with don’t even understand what treats are toys are! It’s really very sad.
But, with patience, you can get any dog to learn to like both treats and toys over time. Once they understand that they are fun objects that they can do “tricks” to earn, the game becomes a fun exercise for them.
You need to start slowly, just as you would with a puppy, and lure them into positions. They will be much more hesitant to follow your hand than a puppy because they are more “skeptical”.
But, with enough repetition, time and patience, all dogs can learn to sit, down, stay, etc.
Once they start figuring this new game out, you will see their confidence and happiness build quickly. Dogs are very happy and eager to learn new things and to work for their living. After all, that’s what they’ve done with humans for hundreds of years.
So, no matter how old your rescue dog is, take the time to teach them some new tricks and you’ll be surprised at how great it makes both of you feel when you succeed!
You can… and should… teach an old dog new tricks!