I could list many reasons why training your dog is an important part of the dog-human bond – in fact, maybe I’ll list those in another post – but, for now, I’m going to focus on one.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a senior dog. Most of the time, at that point, they are really at human speed and settled into a nice routine within their families.
I hate it when I see an email or Facebook post that comes across my computer about a senior dog needing a good home to live out their best, and most certainly last, days. These dogs are being re-homed because of reasons like:
- A new landlord who won’t accept dogs
- Unexpected unemployment and/or lack of affordability
- A human’s death or divorce
- A new baby hits the scene
- Or some other life changing event
There are other reasons, of course, but these are fairly common.
All of these may or may not be justifiable reasons for giving up a furry guy or gal who’s spent many years acclimating and trusting their humans, and I’m not here to argue this point.
However, the re-homing process can be absolutely heart wrenching for dog and human alike.
This is just one of those situations where training time and money spent early on pays off. It is much easier for a friend or relative to take in a dog with manners and a basic understanding of what it is to live in a human household. A well-behaved dog can mean having the choice of someone you know taking your pooch rather than a shelter/rescue, which can be a rough road for a senior dog. Yes, you can teach old dog new tricks, but it’s a slower process that might hinder a potentially easy transfer. People expect to put in training for a puppy, but the hope is that the benefit of taking on a senior is that they already know much of what it means to be in a human home.
A dog who is still crazy with every guest that walks in, obsessive counter-surfing any goody left on the counter for the taking, pulling anyone down the street on a leash, etc. has a much harder time selling themselves. When a family member or friend (or friend of a friend) knows that they aren’t only taking on medical issues, but also behavioral issues, it becomes a lot to ask.
The work that goes into those first 2-4 years of a dog’s life is worth it if they spend their lives with you, but it’s also like a life insurance policy for your dog if life throws you a curve ball the worst becomes a reality.
Nicole Stewart, CPDT-KA, is the Director of Training at AnimalSense/Paradise4Paws She strongly believes that dog training is as much about the people as it is about the dogs. Her favorite place to be is at home with her human family and her steady Clumber Spaniel, Finlay.