This past weekend I met with a new client (November 2010). The client's father lives with them and asked if he could join us to see if he could learn something. The interesting part is that the father is 99 years old! First, just the fact that he's in such great shape at 99 is amazing. But I loved the fact that, at 99 years of age, he wanted to join us to see what he could learn. I LOVE THAT!
When potential clients contact me, they often ask if it's too late to teach their dogs. It's never too late to train your dog! Some things will certainly be more challenging to teach as a dog gets older, not because they are unable to learn, but because the longer they've had bad habits established, the more challenging they can be to change. But you should never assume that your dog can't learn because of his age.
In fact, it's great to work with older dogs. I often see older dogs who are left out of the training because they are already well-behaved or people think they are just too old to learn anything. But I think it's important to work with them too, even if it's just to teach a fun new trick. Dogs, just as with people, will stay healthier and more active if we help to keep them both physically AND mentally fit. It's good for them to learn new things, and they enjoy the one-on-one time with us just as much as the younger dogs do.
When I brought home Romeo last year, I focused most of my training on him since he had so much to learn. I hadn't been spending much time training my Greyhound because she was already well-behaved, and I'd done lots of training when she was younger. But at around 7.5 years old at the time, she wanted to be part of the training too. She enjoys working and learning new things, so I work with her a bit most days too just because it's good for her and she loves it.
If you have an older dog you haven't worked with in a while, now is the time to get going and teach him/her something new! And while you're at it, find something new for yourself to learn too!