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5 New Tricks You Can Teach Your Old Dog

5 New Tricks You Can Teach Your Old Dog 0

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but is that really true? Sure, puppies and younger dogs might learn faster than a senior dog, but many older dogs are still puppies at heart and are just as eager to please. Let's take a look at some new tricks you can teach your senior dog. You'll both have fun in the process and what's more, learning new things is great for mental and physical agility and could even prolong the life of your best friend.

1. Target Training Using Touch

This is a great one for less mobile dogs as it's really simple and doesn't require any agility on their part. The outcome of this trick is to get your dog to touch something with his nose. It could be your hand, a toy or even a light switch if you want to get fancy. The great thing is that you can start off really simple and then add complexity as you and your dog get more confident. Start with your hand as the target. Call your dog and hold your hand out to him. His instinct will be to sniff. As he does so, his nose will come into contact with your hand. At this point, you can use a clicker and small treat to signal he has done a great job. Repeat a few times with the word "touch" so that he understands what you want him to do each time.

2. Putting Toys Away

Even grown-up doggies need to tidy away their toys when they are done playing. It's also a fun game that your dog will love to take part in. Start with an empty box that your dog could easily drop his toys into. If you have a small dog, a shallow tray may be best. Take one of your dog's favorite toys and encourage your dog to come to you to play. Drop the toy on the ground and let your dog pick it up. Move the box closer to him and if he drops the toy near the box, give him lots of praise. As you continue to play around the box, give him lots of praise if he drops the toy into the box, even if it is by accident. Repeat with the command "tidy time" and give your dog a treat every time he manages to put his toy away.

3. Yawning on Command

This is a cute trick that your dog can learn. This one is all about capturing and encouraging behavior using clicker training. It's very much like the target training touch trick, but you will have to wait for your dog to yawn to capture the desired behavior. Whenever you catch your dog yawning, say a keyword like "yes" or "good boy" and click once on your clicker. Reward your dog with a treat or his favorite toy. Once your dog learns that yawning gets him a reward, you can start to encourage him to do it on command. Use a fun command like "take a nap" or "sleepy time" to really take this trick to cuteness overload.

4. Ring a Bell to Go Outside

This is a trick that all owners will love! With the bell trick, you will always know when your dog needs to go outside to play or do his business. Tie a small bell to a piece of string and hang it on your door. The idea is to get your dog to nudge it with his nose every time he wants to go outside. If he's already mastered the touch trick, great! If not, start with the touch trick and gradually work up to the bell. He'll soon learn that nudging the bell brings him the reward of being let outside.

5. Find It

This is a great trick for dogs of all abilities, even those that might be less nimble or have sight or hearing problems. The "find it" trick teaches dogs to use their noses with purpose to find a hidden toy or treat. Start with one of their favorite toys. Don't hide it the first time. Put it somewhere your dog can see it and then say "find it" with enthusiasm. As soon as your dog picks up the toy, give him a treat. Do this a number of times before you hide the toy. Your dog will start looking around for the toy and eventually use his nose to flush it out.

Reveal Your Dog's Inner Puppy

It's amazing how much your older dog can do with a little encouragement. What's more, learning together is a fun and rewarding experience that will benefit you and your dog in so many ways. Above all else, have fun experimenting with your dog, push his limits a little and stop when he's had enough. You'll find his inner puppy in no time!

  • Dana S
Acclimating a New Dog With the Dog You Have

Acclimating a New Dog With the Dog You Have 0

Many people have dogs as pets and for those who think of their dogs as family (and well they should), sometimes it's better to have more than one. You probably have plenty of room in your heart for another dog but does your current dog feel the same?

Here are some tips on acclimating a new dog with the dog you have.

Take It Slow

Allow plenty of time for your dogs to get to know each other and do it in a safe environment. Always have control over both dogs - even if that means having someone help you. Allow them to see each other but don't rush things. And never just let your dogs loose together before they get along.

Use Neutral Territory

One way to preempt any fighting over territory is to have the two dogs meet on neutral ground and while leashed. Take both dogs for a walk and allow them to be near each other on a leash, away from home. Walk to a park, or with permission, use a neighbor's yard. Just keep them out of the house for a closer meeting at first.

If you feel they are getting along well, try it with the leashes dragging. Do this only in a secure place but allow plenty of room for them to get to know each other from a distance, if necessary. Always be ready to grab a leash at any time. And don't be off-leash in public places since it is typically against the law to do so.

Home Sweet Home

Once things are going well, try to let your dogs meet closer at home. First, try the yard if possible and then move into the house if things seem to be working out. Make sure the meetings aren't long at first. Short and sweet is the ticket to a more natural acclimation to each other. If you see the first signs of discord, remove the dogs from each other's space. The key is to be aware of how they are reacting at all times.

Continuing Acclimation

Once you have the dogs getting along, give it more time. Don't leave your dogs together without you being there. A fight can break out and you wouldn't be there to stop it. This doesn't have to be forever, just till the dogs are fully comfortable with each other and there's no growling, attacks, or fighting. This is where crates or even separate rooms come in handy.

  • Jennifer M
3 Tips For Taking Your New Rescue Pup To The Dog Park

3 Tips For Taking Your New Rescue Pup To The Dog Park 0

Bringing your new furry friend home from the shelter is the first step in welcoming a new member of the family. The first few weeks are a whirlwind of walks, snuggles, and the realization that your pup might not be housebroken just yet. Sooner or later, you're going to want to take your pup to the dog park to get some exercise and start socializing. Here's how to prepare to make sure your pooch is ready.

1. Practice Letting Your Dog Off Leash At Home

A fenced in yard is a great place to test if your dog can handle being off leash. By now you've taught your dog to respond to a few basic commands. "Stay", "come", and "no" are critical commands for your first trip to the dog park. Let your pup off leash and see how responsive he is when distracted. Younger dogs will likely sprint around for a few moments before being receptive to commands. You may want to bring a whistle or treats for positive reinforcement. If your dog ignores commands at first, don't get discouraged. It may take a few tries before your pup is ready to learn. You want to be confident that if you give a command, your dog's ears will perk up.

2. Try Socializing While On Leash

Another way to gauge whether your pup is ready for the park is giving him a chance to socialize while on a leash. This could be on a jog or just walking around the neighborhood. Odds are if you walk around for a few minutes you'll come across several other dog walkers. Watch how your pooch interacts with other dogs. Is he friendly and receptive? Does he let other dogs approach without getting tense or aggressive? Those are good signs that your dog will be able to interact with other dogs off leash. Try getting in the habit of walking your dog on the same route at the same time each day. Seeing the same dogs over and over will get yours comfortable with repeated interactions. Once you're sure that your dog is ready, it's time to head to the dog park!

3. Bring Treats & Toys To Reward Good Behavior

It's finally the big day! You and your pup hop in the car and head off to the dog park. Success! Your pup is curious but gets along with all of the other dogs. Now it's time to reinforce all of that good behavior. When your dog promptly responds to commands, throw him a tasty treat. Some dog vitamins or dog supplements are just as tasty and give your dog the nutrients he needs. You can also bring a tennis ball or any other toy (that will likely be shared by the other dogs). You want to make sure that your dog picks up the proper behaviors when he's off leash.

Getting your dog ready for the park comes down to two things: practice and reinforcement. You need to get your pup comfortable with being outside and off leash before heading to the dark park. You also need to reinforce good behavior with healthy treats for dogs, toys, or maybe just a good scratch behind the ears. A dog park is a great way to spend a Saturday morning and with these tips, your pup will be ready in no time.

  • Dana S
How Dogs Help Us Heal

How Dogs Help Us Heal 0

 

Dogs have been there for us for thousands of years. They are companions, aids, friends, and healers. Dogs do a lot for us humans and one of the major things is to help us heal. Whether it's a time of crisis or an actual illness, here is more about what our canine friends do to help us heal.

Motivation and Responsibility

A couple of ways that dogs help heal is with motivation and responsibility. For a person dealing with substance abuse, depression, or any illness that makes them want or need to lie in bed, having a dog gives them the motivation to get up and take care of their furry friend. While this isn't true in all cases, it is in many.

According to Stephen Knight of Dallas, Texas:

Getting a dog eight months into recovery "changed my life," Knight says. "There's a lot of voids that you fill with drinking and drugs. Dogs can replace that with their love."

Unconditional Love

One thing that humans usually don't have for each other is unconditional love. With a dog, that's different. In fact, research shows that just petting a dog makes you feel better. This is because oxytocin is released. What this does is regulate breathing, decrease levels of stress hormones, and lower blood pressure.

Mental Health Healing

There is a reason that dogs are used for therapy after a major disaster, for those with PTSD, and as other forms of therapy dogs.

According to Psychology Today:

This ability, known as emotional contagion -- the spread of feelings between animals and people -- is gaining traction in the field of science. Recent findings from the University of Vienna suggest that dogs can sense emotions and even differentiate between good and bad ones.

Dogs take our minds off of the bad and even if it's just temporary, it is helpful in healing.

Physical Health Healing

Dogs help us with physical healing too. There are plenty of ways this is done:

  • Dogs lower stress in their human friends. Our furry friends help lower stress through a variety of means. Whether it's the calming effect of petting a dog or a listening ear, dogs help our stress levels.

  • Dogs help you get more active. Let's face it, our dogs need exercise, food, and water. Just walking your dog helps you get more active yet there are other ways too. Playing at the park, throwing a frisbee around in the backyard, and anything that gets you up and moving.

  • Dogs help with chronic pain. It has been shown that petting a dog releases endorphins. And fascinatingly so, endorphins are a natural painkiller.
  • Dogs can detect drops in blood sugar. Dogs can sense when a person's blood sugar is too low through the breath of the person.

  • Dogs help with heart health. Evidence points to dogs helping with heart health. They not only get you more active but there is lowered stress, which is good for your heart.

  • Dogs help combat allergies. Studies show that exposure to dogs at a young age helps minimize hay fever, asthma, eczema, upper respiratory illnesses, and more.



An Equal Partnership

Just like your dog takes care of you, you take care of your dog, too. Whether it's vitamins that help your dog get the nutrients he needs or the right shampoo for your furry friend, your dog needs care just like you do.
  • Jennifer M