You can teach an old dog new tricks using the very same training techniques used to teach a puppy. But you should select the tricks you plan to teach your old dog very carefully. If your pet is suffering from hip dysplasia, don’t teach him to lay down. Getting up and down is very painful for him. So is “beg” and “roll over.” Also forget about “play dead.” This, too, requires him to get up and down too much.
Tricks that are good for an older dog include:
Kisses. Ask your pet for a kiss. Some people do not care for a dog licking them on their face. That’s fine. Teach your old dog to “kiss” your hand, as a gentleman did a lady in the “old days.” The simplest way to do this is to put a little peanut butter wherever you want your dog to kiss you and say “kisses” as you lean toward your dog.
Speak. Speak is another great trick for an older dog. How to teach dog to roll over Or you might consider “sing” instead of or in addition to “speak.” The easiest way to teach this trick is to catch your dog when he barks. When he barks you say “speak” and give him a treat so he begins to associate the word speak with his bark. Pay attention to things that make him bark so you can begin to create barking instances. For example, does he bark when someone rings the doorbell? If so, have a family member ring the door bell. When your dog barks, say “speak” and give him a treat. In time you’ll be able to simply say “speak” and he will bark.
Pick Which Hand. If you have kids you likely played something similar with your children when they were younger. Place a dog treat in one hand. With palms up, show the dog. Put your hands behind your back, close them into fists and show the fists to your dog and ask, “Which hand?” Of course he’ll use his snout to try to get the treat. Don’t open your hand until he paws at your hand. Once he paws at the correct hand, he gets the treat.
Peek-a-Boo. When children are little and play peek-a-boo they think when they put their hands over their own eyes that people cannot see them. This is the same idea. With your dog in a lying down position, say “peek-a-boo” and place his paw over his muzzle. When he lays still and does this, give him a treat. If he lifts his head off the floor start over.
Shake or High Five. With your dog in a sit position, say “shake” or “high five” and pick up one paw. Praise him and give him a treat. Soon you’ll say “shake” or “high five” and only give him a treat when he picks up his paw on his own.
Your dog wants to do these tricks for you. If you aren’t getting the reaction you want, keep working with him. He’ll get there. He just isn’t sure what you want from him yet.
Dog trainers suggest you spend no more than 15 minutes working on any single trick at any one time and you always end with a successful activity. If you’ve taught your dog “kisses” and you’re now working on “peek-a-boo” and she just isn’t getting it, then do one “kisses” at the end so the training session ends with success for your dog.