teaching an old dog her old tricks again

Teaching an Old Dog Her Old Tricks Again

I’m thankful that we have  been given the chance to participate in a compensated shop by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, because our dog is as much of a part of the fabric of our family as anyone.  All opinions are ours, and we can’t wait to share our experiences with the #BrightMind line from Purina, and thank #CollectiveBias for the opportunity.

teaching an old dog her old tricks again


Back when Brian and I were first married, we spent a lot of time camping, planned on having four kids, and wanted to live somewhere with a bit of land. We love being outdoors. But, as I was finishing up my undergrad work, and we weren’t sure yet where we’d settle, we decided getting a dog would be our first step towards adulthood.

Trixie, our border collie (named for Beatrix Potter, a favorite children’s author of ours who loved being outdoors with her own border collies), was a perfect fit for us.

teaching an old dog her old tricks again


She was super smart, and took each new obedience class lesson to heart. We ended up taking her to some agility classes because when we didn’t challenge her intellect, she made up her own games. Our favorite to watch was when she played fetch with herself. She’d get a tennis ball, run to the top of the stairs, and drop the ball down, wait a minute to let it get there, then barrel down the stairs after it. And do it again. And again.

Yeah… apparently Trixie was preparing us for a houseful of cognitively gifted, creative, wiggly, and adhd-like kiddos.

The game I hated most was her “unroll the toilet paper” game. Yep. It was pretty much what it sounded like… we ignored her for awhile, she’d get tired of fetch on the stairs, and head to the bathroom and unroll the toilet paper with her nose. And then shred the piles. Ahem…


Channeling a Smart Dog’s Energy

Because I liked keeping my toilet paper on the roll, and we knew we’d have kids one day who would need to interact well with our dog (and she with them), we decided early on to channel that high intelligence and energy.

Besides obedience classes, we worked hard at home to challenge her beyond the normal game of fetch. We taught her lots of fun things that we knew our future kids would love.

teaching an old dog her old tricks again

Hide and Seek

To challenge Trixie’s focus and ability to follow commands that can keep dogs safe like “stay,” we’d play hide and seek. She knew she was only supposed to break a “stay” command when she was given the release of “okay.” But staying put when your favorite person leaves the room is really tough for a loyal dog.

To practice that, I’d put her in a stay, then go hide in another room behind a door or in the bath tub. Then I’d say “okay” in a really loud, fun voice. And Trixie would dash through the house trying to pinpoint where she thought my voice was coming from.

Super fun, and a game the kids still love today.


Playing Dead

This was one of the things my fabulous obedience instructor taught her, and had me practice at home. She suggested teaching her a trigger phrase instead of the hand motion most people use (a shooting gun) so that we could keep her guessing. We taught her to crumple in a heap every time she heard the words dead dog.

So, sometimes we’d pretend to shoot her, and say something like, “Bang! You’re a dead dog.” And she’d crumple in a heap. Other times I’d say, “Trixie, would you rather eat your peas tonight, or be a dead dog?” And she’d crumple in a heap.

The neighborhood kids loved it – and so did ours when they were younger. She doesn’t remember this game very often now when we try it.

teaching an old dog her old tricks again


As Four-Legged Friends Become ‘Old Dogs’

Unfortunately, now that Trixie is getting older – she’ll be 14 in April, she’s not as quick to remember her old tricks and games. It takes her longer to find the kids during games of hide and seek, she often forgets to bring the ball back when playing fetch, and she doesn’t remember how to play dead.

We’re not worried about our ‘old dog’ learning ‘new tricks,’ we just want her to be able to see her remembering her old ones.

According to experts at Purina Pro Plan, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain begins to change around the age of seven. This can affect Trixie’s (and your dog’s) memory, learning, awareness, and decision-making. We figured it was worth a try and some up at our local PetSmart to give this 30-day trial a chance.

teaching an old dog her old tricks again

And we see this happening. Trixie has always been the most loyal of dogs. She’s never run off, chased after anything – well, she’s started after squirrels and rabbits, but always has stopped instantly when commanded to lay down.

Not any more.

We’ve had to keep a closer eye on her in the last few years, and have had her wander away in the middle of games with the kids. Our old dog is struggling with awareness.

Since Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind has shown to promote alertness and mental sharpness within 30 days because of its enhanced botanical oils, I thought it was worth a shot. We love Trixie, and want her final years with us to be fun-filled and for the kids’ memories of her to be loaded with awesome game playing and showing off tricks.

You can see how much the kids love her:




We’ve spent the last few weeks gradually switch over to the Bright Mind food from our previous brand, and are definitely seeing some results with our old dog friend, Trixie. I’ll be sharing some of those after effects next week. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss that post – and you can snag your free eBook A Parent’s Guide to Raising Lifelong Learners in the process.

It’s your turn. Do you have family members of the four-legged variety? How old are your dogs? Have you tried anything to help your aging dogs with their cognitive functions?

Teaching an Old Dog Her Old Tricks Again