Devon the West Highland Terrier: Can an older dog really learn new tricks?

Dear Paws to Talk,

When I was a puppy, my humans took me to obedience class. With ease, I sat, rolled over, and shook my paw. My humans were very proud.

Now that I am middle-aged, my obedience skills are still important but I would like to learn new things such as how to catch a long ball, navigate a wooded path on my own and jump through a hoop. Should I go back to school or is it true that older dogs can’t learn new tricks?

-Devon the West Highland Terrier

Howl Devon,

Thanks for asking such an important question. The human who said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” should be forced to complete a grueling obstacle course designed by the older dog community. How dare someone’s ability be questioned? So what if your joints are a bit creaky in the morning or if you take a longer nap than you used to?

We think you should learn new tricks throughout the duration of your life. Inhale information like you are scarfing down treats or kibble.

Don’t be afraid to go back to school. Who cares if you possess the most dog years in the room? Soak in the experience.

Although, you don’t have to go back to school to learn these new skills. Open your eyes. Maybe a neighbor can teach you how to navigate the path? Perhaps, you’ll see something on TV about jumping through hoops. Get your human outside and have them throw the long ball so you can practice catching it.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to crack a book to expand your knowledge. A well-read canine is a rare thing of beauty (Bella: I am this thing of beauty. DiDi: I’m not but I still have a cute face.).

We hope you become the first “older”dog to attend Harvard.


Bella and DiDi
















© Margot Ahlquist and Paws to Talk, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Margot Ahlquist and Paws to Talk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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