How to teach “an old dog” new tricks?
Updated: Apr 27
On one hand you can imagine agility trainers – extremely happy, loud, jumping like they already won a gold medal. I exaggerate on purpose 🙂 On the other hand total opposite – the most typical search and rescue trainer has poker face, he or she is serious and loud just when a dog steps on a wrong leg 🙂 almost all of them have one in common: they have great working dogs and they understand their dogs (more or less).
And then there are many dog owners who have a passion, relatively enough time and of course a challenging dog (from a dog trainer point of view) who feel they are not good enough to do agility, rally obedience, search and rescue training, nose work, man trailing etc. And then they change a dog trainer and wow a new world opens – dog handler/owner becomes more confident and a dog gets new energy. Familiar?
It happened to me – not once, but many times. And I am more than happy to get all those lessons because I’ve learned to listen to my own gut. On one hand I wish all those unmotivated-to-work-with-me dog trainers would tell me that I was no longer welcome on training, but on the other hand, I’ve learned the difference between good and unmotivated dog trainers for teaching.
Most of us who want to work with dogs we sacrifice other free time activities in our life. Most of us don’t do it because it is fancy to talk about it to our friends or to find a boyfriend. We do it because we love or like it. And it is a pity that dog clubs and societies loose dedicated people just because then don’t fit into a stereotype of “a girl who do agility with small and fluffy dog” or “a man who does search and rescue with golden retriever”.
Probably it was unmotivated dog trainer who started with an idiom “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick” – it has been proven many times that also an old dog can learn new tricks if it is trained in a right manner. I just wish the same idiom wouldn’t be applicable to dog trainers 🙂
If you read this as a dog owner with bad experiences in dog clubs – keep learning 🙂 it is the only way to find a dog trainer who will understand your way of approaching new tricks.
At the end of a day, it is important that you and your dog enjoy the training and that you leave with a smile and a motivation for a next meeting. If you don’t, you waste your time and you make your dog unmotivated.