02 November 2010

eHow: Old dog, new trick

This is a piece I wrote for eHow.com How to Teach an Elderly Dog to Shake Hands It is often said that, "You can't teach an old dog a new trick." This is not the case when it comes to showing your geriatric dog how to shake hands. He or she has already spent a lifetime learning new things and the learning never stops when they are older. Difficulty: Easy Instructions Things You'll Need: dog biscuits or another type of treat patience a geriatric dog who pays attention 1 Sit your dog in a quiet environment where he or she is not distracted by noises, children or other animals. 2 Make sure your dog biscuits or treats are in an area where your dog cannot see them. A dog who becomes more focused on the treat will not pay attention to the trick! 3 Sit on the floor with your dog and have him/her facing you. Call your pet by name so there is eye contact. If your animal is deaf, you will want to make your gestures a bit more dramatic to convey your message. 4 Once you have your pet's attention, lift her paw off the floor as you say the word "Shake". Place her paw back on the floor. Do this five more times, ONLY using the word "shake". The sixth time, say the word "shake" and offer a piece of the treat to your dog. 5 This time, without lifting your dog's paw for her, simply say the word "shake" offering your hand to "meet" hers. When she lifts her paw off the floor, even the slightest bit, offer another piece of the treat and say "good dog". Be very concise. Only say good dog and immediately tell her to "shake" again. If you spend a lot of time telling your dog how good she is, she may become distracted from what you are trying to teach her. Remember, older dogs have shorter attention spans as puppies do, so focus on the trick. 6 The more you reinforce the shaking, the more your dog will pick her paw off the floor to shake your hand. Once she has shaken your hand a few times, then you can concentrate on telling her how good she is. Reinforce what she has learned a few times a day. After a few days, you will no longer need treats to help train her-just saying the word shake will have her shaking hands in no time.