Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?
In this month’s blog, we’re challenging the myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Who best to consult than a leading dog trainer.
Top Shelf Dog’s CEO (Chip Bergstrom) sat down with Nancy Braun of Canine Coach and learned that in many cases, it’s the human whose behavior needs modifying!
Q: What got you started as a canine coach?
A: I spent a lot of my childhood around dogs and horses. I did not aspire to be a dog trainer when I grew up but I was always drawn to working with animals. My interest in dog training piqued after college, so I decided to design my career around working with these unique animals. I found a behaviorist in the area who offered to mentor me and we worked together for several years. I read many books and continue to study various trainers and animal behaviorists and their methods of working with dogs, because there is no one way to train a dog.
Q: What type of training do you do?
A:I am often called in to work with puppies or adult dogs with challenging behavior. When there are challenges in a relationship it is stressful for both dog and owner. The best way to resolve a challenge is to train the owner how to work with the dog. The dog needs to learn that they are the follower. For example, if the owner asks the dog to sit, he/she needs to sit. When a dog understands that good things happen when they listen to the leader, the conflict goes away, they understand the rules and boundaries.
Q: What types of poor behaviors do you typically correct and how?
A: The most common issues are, leashing pulling/aggression, guarding, and not coming when called. Lack of training is often the culprit. If an owner does not have rules and boundaries for their dog, the dog is the leader and can exhibit such behavior. The teaching of the basic tasks of: sit, down, stay, coming when called and heel are important in order to avoid problem behavior and if problem behavior arises, those are the tasks to help eliminate the behavior.
Q: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
A: In my experience, dogs are always learning, so yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. It is difficult to break well established bad habits but teaching new behaviors is possible.
Q: Are certain breeds easier/harder to train?
A: I am often asked, "what is the easiest dog to train?” The dog that is the easiest to train is the one that is matched with a person/family that can best provide what the dog needs. Poodles are amazingly smart and athletic. The home that puts time into training and providing the physical stimulation the dog needs will say it is the easiest dog to train. The home that doesn’t provide what the dog needs will say it is the hardest dog to train.
For the past 26 years, I have coached owners how to improve their relationship with their puppies and adult dogs. Coaching people how to work with their dog has enabled me to work with exceptional people and dogs, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to pursue this path.
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