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Advice on training an older dog.

796 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  mbp-

I currently own a 4 year old mixed breed (chow, golden retriever, semoyed mix) Marley who is an amazing dog. He's extremely well behaved in most situations and his temperament is absolutely perfect; very loving and playful. I got him in college and, under the circumstances, I couldn't ask for a better pup.

However, since I got him I have read a lot more into dog training and, being home for the summer, have spent a lot of time with my cousin and his friends that live on the water. They all have retrievers and black labs etc., which they use for bird hunting, and they are some of the most well trained dogs I've ever seen. Marley is a great and loving family dog, but he is not trained nearly as well as I would like.

He will do anything when I ask him if he's not distracted or occupied by something else. If it's just him and I outside or in the house he will sit, lay, come when I whistle, and walk perfectly without a leash on my heel. However, if he is distracted by other dogs, animals (squirrels), or just a noise, he gets extremely bad tunnel vision. He doesn't listen to a word I say and, on a few occasions, I've almost lost him because he chases after deer and chipmunks on hikes in the woods. Lastly, he has a humping problem at dog parks... been working on that for a few years to no avail.

My question is: is it too late to train him out of this 'tunnel vision'? Like I said, I honestly couldn't ask for a better first dog. With how little I knew about training him and the fact that I got him in college, he has really turned out amazingly. However, I was looking at getting another dog in the next year or so (Rhodesian Ridgeback; I'm a very big hiker and mountain biker and Marley loves it as well), and didn't want him/her to learn any bad traits or tricks from the older brother. I'm taking a year off after I finish graduate school (6 years straight will do it to ya) and was going to use the time to really train the new pup using everything that I've learned over the past 4 years with Marley.

So, any personal advice on teaching an old dog new tricks (clicker training I've heard is successful, but seems to be something better used from puppy-hood)? Or are there any books on the subject that anyone can refer me to?


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Well, dog parks are hardly a necessity, stop taking him.

As to almost losing him to chasing deer, why isn't he on a leash?

We don't have the dog we want, we have the dog we have. Do I look at people with perfectly behaved dogs off leash and feel a little pang of envy? Yes, I do. But Kabota is Kabota, I love him, and for his own safety, he needs to be on a leash. And you know what? I wouldn't trade him for any of those off leash dogs. He's awesome in so many ways, that one thing that might be kinda cool doesn't even count.

You can train old dogs new tricks and clicker training is great, but I wouldn't risk a dog's life for the sake of being off leash. I also would not get a sight hound (Rhodesian Ridgeback) if I wanted a dog to ignore prey and stick right next to me.
I never said dog parks were a necessity, but he really enjoys going. He and I both have numerous friends there and he plays very well with dogs he's known for a while. He just tries to show dominance (by humping) new dogs to the park. An issue I was hoping to get some useful insight on, not just be told to avoid the situation altogether.

Also, and I suppose I wasn't clear enough on this one, Marley and I have hiked over 500 miles together. I live in the mountains of western Virginia and the Appalachian trail is 10 minutes from my house. In the 4 years I have had him and hiked with him, there have only been two instances of him chasing deer past the point where I could see him. He's not on a leash because, as I said before, he heels very well under normal circumstances. It's only when that fixation on another object occurs that I can't get him to listen. And that was the point of this posting: to see if anyone had a solution to this problem.

I do understand what you're saying that 'he's awesome in so many ways, that one thing that might be kinda cool doesn't even count', but hiking is a huge part of our lives; we go at least twice a week. I don't know if you have much experience hiking, but it's actually more dangerous for you and your pet to be leashed together while crossing such terrain as boulders, rocks, and rivers as one of your movements might cause the other to slip and fall. Having him stay near, regardless of a visual distraction, is vital. It's not a matter of risking his life to be off leash, it's a matter of developing a way to MORE safely enjoy an activity we participate in often.

So, if anyone has any advice on this matter, I'd appreciate it..
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