Old Dog, New Trick

Grey muzzled dog

  -12   My Lab Harry is almost eleven and half-years-old. He’s never been a very energetic dog – as I’ve commented to my training classes, his heeling in dog obedience rings was like dragging around a reluctant sack of potatoes!

Recently it’s become obvious that age is wearying Harry even more. Our walks are shorter and if we’re out for too long then I almost have to carry him home.

However, this hasn’t stopped him wanting to play chase back home. Nor has it meant that he’s forgotten his training. And the other day I proved that you can teach an old dog a new trick!

I was brushing Harry after our walk and he was pawing me to hurry up (he gets fed after his brush) when I thought I’d take advantage of the pawing and teach him to Shake. Every time he pawed me, I said “Shake”, grabbed his paw, gave it a shake and rewarded him with “Good dog” praise and pats.

Within only a few minutes Harry was shaking on command and we had another trick to show off at the Club. Okay, okay, I know it’s a very basic trick and that some dogs are born knowing how to do it. But until the other day, Harry didn’t do it on command.

It may be an old trick, but it’s a new one for my old dog! And it proved fun and rewarding, teaching an old dog an old trick!

© 2007 Robert Fairhead 

Robert Fairhead

Robert Fairhead

Sydney, NSW, Australia.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert is an editor and a writer for Tall And True and blogs at RobertFairhead.com. He enjoys reading, writing, playing the guitar, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Footy with his son. Robert has worked as an electrician, sales and marketing rep, computer programmer, dog trainer and (wanna-be) writer. He also had a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.

This article appeared in my dog club newsletter, PawPrints, in April 2010, titled, “Old Dog, New Trick“. 2015 Update: I’ve just recently taught my adopted four-year-old Lab to shake hands! 


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