General Training

When is a Dog too Old to Train?

What's OLD for a performance dog varies greatly according to the dog's makeup and prior experience. It all depends upon a number of factors, not just years spent on this planet. There are many dogs performing in USDAA agility that are well up in their middle age, and headed toward their Senior citizenship. These are active, happy dogs, with dedicated owners. The notion of "your dog's too old" should not be planted in a new handler's head before determining what the dog's experience has been or what it's capable of. Give 'em a chance, and give it *all* a try! Some will be capable, and some may have already developed physical problems that may restrict their activity, but this certainly isn't limited to the age thing.

For many dogs the introduction to agility is their first experience in physical fitness. If the handlers dedicate themselves to proper exercise and conditioning it's not the age that matters, but the condition of the dog. If they want to go on, they'll need to take the appropriate measures to do so, and be prepared to back up if any problems do arise. Teach 'em what to look for no matter the age of the dog. (Katie Greer)

As long as the dog has no disabling physical problems, you can work them in agility. While you may never compete you can certainly enjoy the fun of training and the dog will enjoy it too. Just because you train agility - or anything else- doesn't mean you have to compete. So if you need to, keep the heights low and just enjoy the experience! (Edell Marie Schaefer)

Training an older dog will give you valuable training experience, while allowing your dog to have a great time. Watch him carefully, be sure he is jumping comfortably and without effort, and that he is in very good condition, before you show him at higher jump heights. Watch your dog and listen to him - he will tell you a lot about how he is feeling, even if he is the type to try anything to please you. (Billie Rosen)


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