A woman contacted me about her dog who has anxiety but was unsure of being able to do anything as he is old.Whilst talking to a few people we came across that for years we have used the term “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I am aware of this being used when talking about humans, so I’m not sure if it was ever meant to be true for dogs. So, anyway after discussing this metaphor, I realised that it didn’t make sense in my head.Here is the reasons why.
I suppose the best way to explain it is that if you were trying to teach a kid that can already say a few words, to then create a sentence, it is easier than having to teach the kid how to say these words first, then say the sentence.If I go into a home and the dog has been living in this environment for 9 years, then this dog is going to be very aware of the rules and will already know the basics. I would then be able to then go in and fix the anxiety. I can use the commands the dog knows already, in order to change his association of why he doesn’t like the owners leaving. This will include lots of going in and out of the room and slowly increasing the time you leave. Of course there is a lot more to this.If I was to go into a new house where the dog was young, he/she may not know the commands needed in order to fix the behaviour. So before you even start you would need to teach this first. There are other ways around this but you can catch my drift.
Of course the real problem is actually changing the routine that the dog has known all these years. This is what could have caused the behaviour all along. So when training I make sure that I work slowly ensuring the dog gets used to the new routine. With an older dog you can not expect too much. If your training sessions are sticking to 10 minuets then you must remember that the dog may not generalise in everyday life.
If you are asking your dog not to follow you every time you go out the room, you can’t expect it to not follow you when the whole household get up and leave, as you have not done this part of the training yet.
Let’s face it, even us humans don’t like it when everyone leaves the room and is socialising without us.
I will update everyone on my journey and process as I go along and I hope you enjoy reading my blog.