Saturday, 9 December 2006

Teaching An Old Dog. . . anything

1) The question. Does anyone know of a book devoted to training old dogs that they could recommend? I can't seem to find anything between Koehler and reward-based methods.

2) My plan. To have Nala walk reasonably well where I want her to go.

3) Why I am concerned about my plan. You know where Koehler says don't worry if your dog sits on her haunches in imitation of a cartoon donkey -- just drag her along? It's really hard to do this to an old dog who has never had any training at all, has weak legs (but strong enough for this behaviour), bad eyes and a lot of vet bills.

4) Vitals of the animal. (Age, breed, sex, fixed, etc) She started out as 13 a year or so ago, backed up to 10 and may now even be the 8 the rescue claimed she was, purebred (badly) Chow, female, not spayed -- I'm not spaying a bitch whose (advanced) age and full medical history I don't know.

5) As much temperament information as I have. . . including whether this
information is giving to me from the client or information I have through my
interactions with the dog. She's a Chow; that says it all. Independent, stubborn, marches to her own drummer. Her idea of a reward is to do what she likes. When you're at least eight, and probably older, and no one has ever given you a treat, even after 15 months you don't know how to take food from a hand. Top that with bad sight and not much of a sense of smell and treats aren't in it.

6) Anything else I can think of. I don't want much out of this one: just to be able to walk in town reasonably well and not bark at passersby. (It's O.K. if I bark.) I'm going to give Koehler one more shot, but I don't hold out much hope.

8/11/2006 Van-Ly failed her "don't chase the cat" test on Friday. Granted, she wasn't on her line, she was with Nick and not me, and I'm not fast enough to head her off at the pass, anyway. But I do know what her Koehler test will be.


  1. I don't care for Koehler, tried that years ago, and it's not acceptable to me anymore. I searched for doberman, dog training and found
    Winifred Strickland's book Expert Obedience Training for Dogs, 3rd edition, 1987. She uses positive methods, not coercive. We have to legs for her CD and needed to improve her spirit, enjoyment and found this works much better, better sits, responses in general

  2. Thanks, Anne. I explained in one of my previous posts why I'm using Koehler, at least for my younger Chow and why positive only methods will not work for a Chow. Koehler isn't appropriate for the older one, but someone has recommended "Second Hand Dog" as somewhere in between the two methods.