Older dogs are set in their ways and figure, "Why change? What worked for me before will work for me again!" But we humans may not like their behavior, and may have been trying to train them for years. Well, maybe these tips will help you to teach your old dog some new tricks!
- Train your older dog as though he were a young puppy, teaching him appropriate behavior through positive reinforcement [source: APDT].
- Establish your leadership role over your dog through praise and rewards. Providing structure in a dog's life helps accomplish this. Then, when you start to train your dog, he'll know what to expect and will cooperate more.
- Reward your dog for exhibiting the desired behavior. This teaches him that he's good when he lets you know he needs to go outside, and encourages him to do the same thing next time. Smiles, pats, treats and praise are ample reward for the good conduct you're encouraging.
- Praise him enthusiastically when he's outside and eliminating, so he associates it with his action.
- Have a regular schedule for taking your dog outside.
- When indoors, heed his cues and take him outside if he indicates a need, but make it short and only for the task at hand. No outings, bird watching or long walks. Older dogs can often wait six to eight hours during the day and eight to ten hours at night [source: Tufts].
- Clean up any messes indoors with a disinfectant cleaner to remove the odor. You can use verbal reprimands, but don't speak aggressively.
- Experts agree that daily mental and physical exercise provides dogs with stimulation and positive attention. Long walks, swimming and games, like fetch, are good exercise, which tires them out and keeps them healthy. This helps them control their bladders.
- Of course, there are obedience training classes for older dogs if you feel that a professional touch will benefit both you and your dog.