Can you teach an old dog or cat new tricks? Most owners agree their pet’s gotten smarter with age

NEW YORK — With age does, in fact, come wisdom, according to 71 percent of pet parents who believe their furry friend has gotten smarter over the years.

The survey of 2,000 dog and cat parents looked at some of the experiences with younger and senior pets and found that as they’ve gotten older, pets are better at interacting with other pets or people (72%) and learning new tricks or commands (56%).

While 54 percent think younger pets are easy to teach, 87 percent say that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. Additionally, parents of senior pets say they have a stronger emotional connection with their pet than those who have younger pets (91% vs. 85%).

Conducted by OnePoll for Stella & Chewy’s, the survey found that although owning a younger pet has its perks – like them having more energy (64%) and fewer health issues (54%) – pet parents reflected on the fact that younger pets need more training (61%) and are more likely to have accidents (55%).

Parents of senior pets get to skip over some of those worries about training (69%) or misbehaving (64%) and even think senior pets are just as easy to care for as younger pets (57%).

“We believe that all pets deserve love, no matter the age,” says Marie Moody, founder of Stella & Chewy’s, in a statement. “My dogs Stella and Chewy, who inspired me to start the company, showed me how much I can learn from senior pets. As my dogs aged, they became even smarter companions, giving me a fresh perspective that I carry with me every day.”

senior pets

Older pets teach their owners something about aging gracefully

In fact, 68 percent of pet parents think that, generally, more people should be open to adopting a senior pet, especially given that three-quarters of respondents think their pet has become a more intuitive companion with age (74%).

Pet parents have also learned a thing or two about aging from their pets, like “age doesn’t determine how fun or sociable you can or cannot be,” take things “in stride one day at a time,” and “be patient with younger generations.”

Parents of senior pets can vouch for their pals, noting that their pet has made a significant impact on their lives (90%), going through major life experiences like having kids, the loss of another pet, and getting through the pandemic.

One way that parents reciprocate the love provided by senior pets is by keeping nutrition top of mind. In fact, most senior pet parents (72%) agree that they’ve noticed positive changes in their senior pet when prioritizing nutrition.

“There is nothing quite like the love that senior pets give, and I’m so grateful to have experienced life with them by my side,” Moody says. “I hope that we can inspire others to experience the joy of parenting a senior dog or cat, and encourage adoptions both throughout November, National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and beyond.”


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