It's never a bad time to teach your dog something new, no matter how old he is. Whether you’re just starting to train your puppy or teaching your adult dog how to fetch the morning paper, here are a few tips for training your dog at any age.

Foster Good Habits in Your Puppy

Teaching your puppy a few basic commands now will set him on the path to becoming a well-behaved adult — and it’ll make it easier to train him later in life. Understanding basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” or “come” could even help keep your puppy out of danger.

Habits like digging or jumping up on people are much harder to break as an adult, so try to discourage bad behavior in your puppy before it becomes permanent. One of the best ways to curb your puppy’s bad habits is to redirect inappropriate behavior into something positive. For example, if your puppy is chewing on furniture, get his attention by using a low-pitched, serious voice. Saying “ahhh!” will startle him, and he’ll start paying attention to you. Redirect him to a more appropriate behavior, like a chew toy. Make sure to praise correct behavior with affection and an upbeat, high-pitched voice.

Help Teach Your Adult Dog New Tricks

Just because your dog has entered adulthood doesn’t mean he’s done learning! In some ways, adult dogs are even better suited to training than puppies because they tend to be calmer and to have a longer attention span. Training may take a bit more time since it’s harder to break old habits, but with a little patience, your adult dog can learn all kinds of new tricks and behaviors.

One great way to train your adult dog is to think of your training sessions as a game. Try teaching your dog to jump through a hula hoop by throwing a treat through the opening. Not only will your dog learn an impressive new trick, but both of you will enjoy the time you spend together.

Help Keep Your Senior Dog's Mind Sharp

As senior dogs get older, training can be a great way to keep their minds and bodies active. Generally, it’ll be easier for an older dog to learn a new behavior than to stop a bad habit that’s been going on for years, so you may want to try teaching your dog a simple command like shaking hands or rolling over.

Keep in mind that your senior dog may not have as much energy as he used to, so keep your training sessions short and simple. And of course, make sure to get your veterinarian’s approval before starting any strenuous training.

Do's & Don'ts for All Ages

DO use rewards and praise. Positive reinforcement is not only the most effective way to teach your dog, but it also makes training more fun for both of you.

DO get the whole family involved. Your dog learns best with consistency, so make sure every member of your family is using the same language and commands to train your dog.

DO end your training sessions on a positive note.

DON’T punish your dog for something that happened hours or even minutes ago. Correcting bad behavior only works if you catch your dog in the act.

DON’T use food as your only reward. For most dogs, praise and love can be just as effective.

DON’T give up! Training takes a lot of love and patience, but it can be a great way to both encourage good behavior and bond with your dog.

Want to learn more about training your dog? Petfinder has plenty of resources to help get you started, whether you’re training your new puppy or teaching your senior dog something new.

If your dog seems to be motivated only by food, use kibbles that he'd normally eat from his bowl as a reward, rather than extra treats. To find out your unique dog's daily feeding amount measured in cups and calories that's personalized for him, create his ideal blend with Just RightⓇ by PurinaⓇ.

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