Old Dog, New Tricks: Understanding and Retraining Older and Rescued Dogs

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9781554071975: Old Dog, New Tricks: Understanding and Retraining Older and Rescued Dogs

It's never too late to train an older dog to respond promptly and correctly to commands.

Every year thousands of families adopt adult dogs, whether from friends, relatives or the pound or rescue society. These new owners need to understand and deal with the specific problems an older dog may have, especially if its history is unknown.

Old Dog, New Tricks provides expert insights into basic adult dog behaviors. It explains how to communicate effectively with an older dog and create a great partnership. Many issues are peculiar to older dogs and, in particular, rescued ones. David Taylor addresses them all, including socialization and previous training (or the lack of either), genetic factors and adaptation to a new environment.

The book contains practical solutions to ensure good dog behavior:

  • Step-by-step obedience drills
  • Welcoming the new arrival
  • How to assess a dog's problems
  • How a dog "thinks"
  • How to be a good owner/master
  • Communicating with a dog
  • What to look for in a rescued dog
  • Tackling problem behaviors
  • Understanding the effect of a dog's prior history
  • Mental and physical changes in older dogs

Old Dog, New Tricks has everything needed for human-canine harmony in any household generous enough to give an old dog a new home.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

David Taylor is an eminent veterinary surgeon and the author of 36 books, including the best-selling The Ultimate Cat.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Mark Twain

So you and your household are taking on a new pet in the shape of an adult, perhaps even an old adult, dog. The other day a taxi driver described to me how he had recently adopted a 10-year-old male Rottweiler when the previous owner, his mother-in-law, was admitted to a long-term care facility and unlikely ever to leave. "A most gentle dog with people," he explained (Rottweilers do indeed often contradict their popular reputation). "But incredibly strong and with only one apparent fault -- a murderous attitude to any other dog he comes across!" I can easily imagine his problem.

Adopting an older dog occurs frequently and for a variety of reasons -- the death of a friend or relative; a visit to the animal shelter where your heart goes out to the Greyhound abandoned when its racing days came to an end; or to the mutt that is due to be euthanized in a week's time unless someone gives it a good home, and, of course, there is the dog who walks into your life, literally, up the garden path, a seemingly ownerless vagrant, and then proceeds to hang around indefinitely.

Of course it is utterly right and proper to give a home to these mature foundlings, but such animals can bring a lot of "baggage" with them. They have had years of experience, good and perhaps bad, of which you may have little or no knowledge, and they may never have received effective training. There are several advantages in giving a home to a mature dog: it is usually house-trained, it has a developed, stable personality and it is unlikely to suffer from puppyhood diseases.

As with some elderly human beings, older dogs can be set in their ways, averse to change and, all too often, inclined to bad, or at least undesirable, habits. The loss of their old family, equivalent to being ejected from the pack, may cause them to feel insecure, and some behavioral problems may only surface a few weeks after arriving in their new home. Nevertheless, to have a dog as a pet is a delight, a privilege and a distinct benefit to your health and well-being. Just stroking a dog has been shown to lower our blood pressure, and some health organizations have begun "prescribing" pet dogs for patients as a valuable adjunct to medication.

The vagaries of fate may, however, deposit a puppy or young dog in your lap. To some extent you will have a "clean slate" to work from in educating the animal in the ways of your family and general good behavior, but there can be difficulties even with these immature dogs, particularly if they were not handled well in the first few weeks or months of life. The vast majority of behavioral problems, such as aggression toward people, house soiling and destructiveness, are to be found in dogs under 9 years of age.

Things have got to change, you will say. Your new dog must fit in with your regime and that of your family. How, though, do you go about it? Your main aim must be to understand your dog, to learn "what makes it tick." An informed relationship with a much loved pet can be one of the most special in your life. Mentally, dogs aren't as complex as human beings but, nevertheless, every dog is an individual with thoughts and a personality of its own.

Obviously dogs are dogs, different in a multitude of ways from people, cats or crocodiles. So what are dogs? Where have they come from? Even if you know virtually nothing about your newly acquired dog's résumé, learning more about the biology and position of dogs within the animal kingdom can help us to understand something of the way in which they think and act as they do. Read on to find out.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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