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How To Help Tackle Bad Habits In Older Dogs

Dogs are animals and while we can communicate with them to some degree, they’re not going to understand everything you say. With that being said, their behavior may develop some bad habits that go unnoticed or unaddressed, usually due to a lack of knowledge or experience.

Tackling bad habits in older dogs is albeit more difficult than when they were puppies and easily influenced. However, it doesn’t make it impossible.

That saying ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is definitely incorrect.

With the right training and persistence, you’ll be able to tackle bad habits a lot more successfully as a result.

With that being said, here are some tips that will help tackle bad habits in older dogs going forward.

How To Help Tackle Bad Habits In Older Dogs

Provide mental stimulation

Remember, dogs are just like humans in that they need a certain degree of mental stimulation to tire them out and keep them entertained during the day.

If you’re allowing them to sit around all day, then chances are, they’re going to be a nightmare by the evening.

Mental stimulation comes in many forms, most typically when it comes to taking them out on walks.

There are so many different smells and sensations that a dog enjoys when out on a walk and this type of mental stimulation can really help them with any naughty behaviors.

Think about how you can provide mental stimulation in other ways.

There are plenty of toys that you can give your dog in order to keep them occupied during the day.

That will help to resist and minimize some of the bad habits they develop or have developed over time.

Use treats

Reward-based training is considered one of the most effective forms of training, rather than any form of punishment.

Like humans, they love food, which is why you should be addressing any bad habits with treats as a reward.

Only reward good behavior and try to dismiss any bad behavior instead of shouting at them.

Again, your dog can’t speak human and will only understand basic commands that you possibly have taught them during their puppy stages.

However, you can always learn new tricks and disable bad habits with the use of treats if done correctly.

Chihuahua sitting on hind legs begging

Stop any typical bad habits made by yourself as the owner

There are some bad habits that you’re making, which is rubbing off on your dog.

For example, if you’ve been feeding your dog human food from the dinner table, this is more than likely to result in a habit of the dog begging or jumping up at the table to look for food.

As an owner, you’re contributing to bad habits, whether you realize it or not.

With that being said, try to recognize any habits you’ve perhaps caused or you’re still contributing to, and be sure to stop these in their tracks.

Seek advice and guidance from a dog behaviorist 

Sometimes the bad habits have become deeply ingrained into the dog’s day-to-day activities and personality.

If that’s the case, then you might not know where to start when it comes to addressing it yourself.

With limited knowledge of how dogs behave, that can prove challenging.

Therefore, in order to tackle this behavior or bad habits in situ, then getting a dog behaviorist involved might be the next best thing.

Experts that have degrees and years of experience in dog behavior are going to be the best solution when it comes to tackling bad habits in older dogs.

Make sure they’re consuming the right foods

The diet that your dog has every day should be something that they enjoy and provides them with all the nutrients and calories they need.

It’s something to be mindful of when it comes to your dog developing any bad habits, especially when they’re older.

Be aware of what you’re feeding them and what you might need to introduce or take away to help give them the nutrients needed to thrive as an older dog.

Try to unlearn a habit one at a time

Tackling all of their bad habits at once can be difficult to deal with.

With that being said, you want to try and unlearn a habit one at a time.

This is important because it can be the difference between being successful and failing. 

It’s also overwhelming to both you and the dog to try and tackle all of the bad habits at once.

Take your time and do it one at a time where you can.

Tackling bad habits can be challenging in older dogs. However, with these tips, you might find that you have greater success as a result.

Anne Perry

Saturday 3rd of February 2024

I have 4 year old frenchies that fight each other. They have to be kept apart,


Tuesday 28th of November 2023

I adopted an 8 year old mini-schnauzer that was clearly abused. He was fear aggressive with other dogs. Had him in behavioral training and he never quite got over it. We just found methods to try and lessen it.


Thursday 23rd of November 2023

That is very informative. Thank you for the post.

Anne Perry

Thursday 16th of November 2023

We rescued an English Bulldog who bites when in his crate,

Anne Perry

Friday 13th of October 2023

My frenchies have bad habits.

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