Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

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The old saying that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is not entirely true. While older dogs may take just a little bit longer to pick up on new tricks and commands, any dog has the potential to learn new tricks regardless of age. With enough patience, practice and repetition, old dogs can learn just as many tricks as a younger dog.

Instead, it may be more challenging to try to teach older dogs new behaviors. Older dogs tend to be more set in their ways and behaviors, partially because their owners have contributed to forming their personality. If you have an older dog who has always been allowed to sleep on the couch or bed, and then you suddenly decide to try to teach her not to go on the couch or bed, you may have a bit of trouble.

The same is true for trying to change an older dog’s personality and temperament. The longer the dog behaves a certain way, the more likely she is to remain that way. For example, if a dog has always been dominant, it’s unlikely that you will be able to make this dog very submissive. Likewise, if an older dog has always been very shy, it’s unlikely that you will be able to make her outgoing and adventurous.

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