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All dogs need to be trained; want to be trained. Like children, they need and want parameters to live and act within, and desire rules and regulations. Even in a wild pack there are rules--just as we need rules in our domesticated pack.

I have taught recreation classes for companion dog obedience since 1973. The majority of dogs in these classes fall into two groups:

  • Rescued pound puppies that someone dumped because they were untrained, unruly and unwanted, or
  • Dogs that are 6 to 7 months old and on their way to being untrained, unruly and unwanted (but the owners are making an effort to recoup the error of not training when the pup was little).

Dogs can and must be taught from the moment they move away from Mama....actually, any training you do is a continuation of what the puppy has learned from Mama. You don't have to do formal obedience class-perfect training, but by the time pup is ready for formal classes, his preschool will have taught him to sit, down, stand, stay on command, come when called and walk politely on a lead.

If taught from the beginning--at home before dinner, coming in from outside, while watching TV with the family--the transition to formal classes will not be traumatic and will be a pleasure to both of you. Formal training won't be a desperate try for obedience, but a night out for both you and your pup to enjoy.

The old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is proven to be untrue. It may take more patience because the learning portion of the older dog's brain does not respond as quickly as the puppy and the older dog can be more set in it's ways, but it can be done.

I have taught many older dogs. They come to classes because the owners just wanted something to do with their buddy. My own dogs, at 14 and 11, are always working on new exercises daily just to keep the grey matter and the body active. "Use it or lose it" makes sense for dogs too.

For more information e-mail me
at doglady@naturaldog.com