Experiments

Can’t Teach Old Dog New Tricks

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Dog Myths."
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Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: In 1523, an English guy named Fitzherbert penned a treatise on animal husbandry in which he advised readers that "the dogge must lerne when he is a whelpe, or els it wyl not be; for it is harde to make an old dogge to stoupe."

Roughly translated from the vernacular, that's "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." It's a saying that's quite familiar today, even among non-pet owners. But is there any truth to it?

To take this timeworn adage for a walk around the block, MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage found a pair of aging Alaskan malamutes who didn't know a single trick in the book. As 7-year-old canines, siblings Bobo and Cece were equivalent to a couple of 50-year-olds in dog years, arguably qualifying them for the "old dog" category.

After four days of training, Bobo and Cece proved Fitzherbert flat wrong. Each could heel, sit, lie down, stay and shake upon command from Jamie and Adam. And since malamutes are known to be stubborn, Bobo and Cece's stellar performances definitively busted the myth and represented for old dogs everywhere.

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