It’s been said many a time that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. The excuse has been bandied about frequently when it comes to bad behavior. “Oh, it’s just the way my dog is. Too late to change anything at this point. I just learned to live with it.”
Here’s the deal, it’s never too late to improve your dog’s bad habits. It just takes time and effort. If you are going to be a dog owner, those are two things you are going to have to be willing to sacrifice.
For your sake and your dog’s sake, it is much better to train from the beginning of your dog’s life or the beginning of the relationship between you and your dog, but some times that’s not possible or just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that all is lost. It can be tricky and in some cases you may very well need to bring in a professional, but in the meantime, structure is crucial.
You need to set aside time, even as little as ten minutes a day to work on commands. Sit, stay, down, etc. Repetition is key. Rewarding good behavior will go a long way. Punishing bad behavior isn’t always effective.
We have a rescue dog named Sam. We don’t know much about Sam’s life before us, but we know he was not treated well. As a result he severe anxiety and behavioral issues. Slowly but surely, we are working away at them.
One of the first major improvements we made was with his car etiquette. Sam always wanted to be as close to his mom as possible. This wasn’t the safest of desires as Sam’s mom was always the driver. It took a month or so of constant repetition and, “Down, Sam”. We also added a small barrier made from a scarf tied between the two front seats. These days Sam stays put in the backseat.
We have a lot left to work on with Sam, but we’re getting there.
Every dog and every situation is different and it won’t be easy, but don’t give up. It is never too late to change your dog’s bad behavior, you’re both learning.