Training an older, newly adopted dog to come

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by serah, Sep 27, 2004.

  1. serah

    serah New Member

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    Hello,

    Last week, I adopted an older dog from Vancouver Animal Control. They guessed he's about 5 or 6 years old, and mostly golden retriever with perhaps a bit of Irish Setter and possibly something else thrown in as well. Anyways, he's very well behaved. House trained, knows not to get on the furniture, doesn't chew stuff etc, knows some basic commands. He had zip in leash manners, so I purchased a Halti, and he's great out on walks now, even if he still doesn't like having it put on. The staff at the shelter said he is very good with other dogs, and my experience shows the same. He appears to have been neglected, though not abused.

    Unfortunately, I didn't know what his old name was, hence I have chosen to call him Ben. He seems to respond a bit now, but it might just be the trying-to-get-a-dogs-attention happy tone that he's responding to. Does anyone know how long it will take for him to pick up that this is his name?

    Anyways, I would like to be able to let him run off-leash at the park, and at the dog-park as well. I'm hesitant to let him loose right now, b/c I doubt that he really understands that I'm his "people" now, nor the command "come". Also, he was only just neutered a few days before I adopted him, and apparently has been picked up by the SPCA a few times previously for wandering. I'm concerned that this is going to remain a problem. I'm working on "come" when he's on a very long lead in the park, with lots of rewards for him when he does. Any thoughts?

    Any other tips on training an older dog?
     
  2. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    It sounds like you're doing a good job, with the long lead, the halti and the positive reinforcement. I'd be hesitant too about letting him off lead for awhile with his history.

    Do you make it a habit to just talk to him when it's just the two of you? The more you communicate directly with him, the better and more quickly the two of you will bond. It's really amazing how they respond to that kind of direct communication, especially if they've been neglected in the past.

    Anyway, that's the best tip I know for teaching an older dog; it's worked with every one of the adult dogs I've adopted.
     
  3. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    Kudos to you for adopting a 'grown up' dog! :D It sounds like you're doing a great job with him; the choices you've already made for him are definitely heading in the right direction.
    Teaching him his name can be really easy if you keep it fun. Periodically throughout the day spontaneously say his name in a tone that you would probably say normally, you know, an attention getting call. When he looks at you praise him and give him a small treat. Alternate what kind of food you pop in his mouth. If you want to jump speed his learning process try giving him a piece (bean sized) of cheese, or a little lick of peanut butter. Always associate his name to get his attention so he think something good will happen if he gives you his attention. Reinforce it by saying his name before a command "Ben, sit!" and then praise. I'm sure he'll learn it quickly. Just make sure you never yell "Ben, No!" or anything like that. Its easy to say without thinking, I do it sometimes I admit, but it may set you back in teaching his name if you're not lucky.
    Work on 'come' for a little while longer before letting him free. Make sure its a very reliable recall, and he will come to you even if there are distractions, so when he gets the hang of it work with distractions. He may have been wondering because of females in heat, but I'll warn you I've had perfect an angel that came to me no matter what is going on around her, but once the leash was unsnapped she went hog wild and was gone for hours. HTH GL2u with Ben
     

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