When you think of training dogs, you usually think of puppies, but sometimes it’s necessary to give an older pooch a few lessons too. Maybe you’ve adopted an adult dog who hasn’t had the best training earlier in their life, or maybe you just wish your buddy was a little bit better behaved. Don’t worry – it’s definitely possible to teach an old dog new tricks!

The most important thing to remember when you’re training any dog is that you need to reward good behaviour rather than punish them when they’re being bad. Dogs naturally want to please you, and punishment could cause them to lose trust in you or, even worse, become aggressive. Heap praise and treats on them when they get it right and ignore negative behaviour and they should soon get the message.

Training older dogs is exactly the same as training a puppy, except it can take them a little longer to get the hang of things, so you’ll have to be patient. Even elderly dogs can benefit from training, although you should be careful that you’re not pushing a senior dog too hard physically, as just like us, they may struggle with joint pain and stiffness in their older years. Break training up into manageable 5-minute chunks and make sure they’re happy and comfortable at all times.

So, let’s have a look at some easy commands you can teach your pup…


  1. Grab a few treats and position yourself with your dog standing in front of you. Make sure they can see the treats in your hand.
  2. Slowly bring the treat up and back over their head, giving the ‘sit’ command. As their head goes up to follow the treat, they should naturally sit down. Make sure you say ‘sit’ rather than ‘sit down’, as this can be confusing later on when you’re trying to teach them the ‘down’ command.
  3. As soon as they’re in the sitting position, give them the treat and make a big fuss of them.
  4. Practice a couple more times, following the same steps.


Once your dog’s mastered sitting on cue, you can move on to getting them to lie down.

  1. Ask them to sit and show them that you’re holding a treat.
  2. Slowly move the treat down to the ground in front of their paws, giving the ‘down’ command. They should follow the treat and lie down.
  3. As soon as they’re in the down position, give them the treat and make a big fuss of them.
  4. Practice a couple more times, following the same steps.


Ok, now it’s time to teach ‘stay’.

  1. Ask your dog to sit or lay down.
  2. Take a couple of steps back, giving the ‘stay’ command. Count to three in your head.
  3. If they stay, go back to them, give them the treat and make a big fuss of them.
  4. If they get up, go back to them and start the process again. Don’t tell them off for not staying, just start all over again when they don’t stay and give them the treat and a lot of praise when they do, and they’ll start to get the picture.
  5. Once your dog gets the hang of ‘stay’ at a short distance and time, try going further away or leaving it a bit longer. Don’t be afraid to go back a step if you need to!


Dog training can take patience and persistence, but it can also be really rewarding and strengthen the bond between you. Here a just a few general tips to make it a more pleasant experience for you and your dog:

  • Never try to push down on their body to encourage them to sit or lie down, as this could cause confusion, or even worse, pain or injury. This is especially important with older dogs who may have stiffer joints and muscles than a younger pup.
  • Reward your dog for listening after each training session, even if they were struggling to make progress. This will keep the sessions positive and make them look forward to the next one.
  • Check your tone. Dogs might not understand most of the words you’re saying, but they react to your tone of voice. Always talk to them in an encouraging, upbeat tone when you’re training, and it’ll help them stay focused and enthusiastic. Remember that they just want to please you!
  • Be patient. Training can take time but keep going and you’re sure to see results. Good luck!


To stock up on treats and treasures for your pet, check out our dog and puppy range on wilko.com

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