Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Midlife and learning new things

We are older and we have a young dog.

When my husband signed us up for a two-day carting workshop (my dog, Niko the Landseer Newfoundland, my husband and me), I was hesitant. I didn’t see why my dog would embrace the strange skill of actually pulling a large cart. I thought things like:

*Why would Niko be interested in learning this?

*Would the cart be too heavy and uncomfortable?

*What’s the point of Niko learning this skill?

*Why bother with a skill that has no practical application in our suburban lifestyle?

I kind of felt like my teenage sons  when they complained about algebra and asked,
“what’s the point? Where will this skill be used?”

The carting workshop was in our calendars. It was a go.

The weekend was beautiful.  Thank goodness for fabulous Fall weather!  Eight gorgeous Newfs and their owners were up for the challenge to learn the classic working dog skill of carting.  The dogs were black Newfs and Landseers (like Niko) and young and old. Some were smaller in stature; some were much larger (like Niko).

Owners…well, we weren’t quite as gorgeous. It’s hard to be as gorgeous as a Newf. But also young and old.  Some had taught carting to their other Newfs over the years; some were in such a workshop for the first time like we were.

Guess what?

You can definitely teach an old dog, and a young dog, new tricks!

Same with the owners.  Everyone learned something. There were several steps involved: learning about the different harnesses and straps; putting the harnesses on the dogs; harnessing the cart; learning the commands; practicing turning and backing up; and finally, towing a cart with a person in it! Surprisingly, the dogs seemed to enjoy the activity too.  It makes sense.  Afterall, Newfoundlands were traditionally bred as draft animals, hauling everything from fish, lumber and mail! And, they like learning. I’m glad we didn’t let my thoughts about the workshop prevent us from going.

My hesitation about attending the workshop got me thinking about hesitancy in midlife to learn new things.  Clients talk to me about this regularly.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not implying that we are OLD DOGS just because we are in midlife. I like to think we are older and wiser though.

I hear a lot of hesitancy about all kinds of things.  Fear and doubt loom large. I’m not talking about being a life-long learner and enjoying reading about new things.

I’m talking about putting yourself OUT THERE and trying new things…everything from going to a yoga class for the first time to changing jobs after 20 years.

My clients share all kinds of thoughts with me that they think are facts.

“I’m too old.”

“I’m not the kind of person who speaks in front of people.”

“I’m not a good business person.”

“I’m not good at technology because of my age.”

“I won’t be a good mother because my mother wasn’t a good mother.”

“It’s out of my comfort zone.”

Facts can be proven.  Thoughts, on the other hand, can not.  Basically, thoughts are sentences in your mind. And they can be powerful.  They lead to feelings and ultimately to the results in our lives.

Thoughts about trying new things can be obstacles – or excuses – for many people. Many of us aren’t aware of the difference between thoughts and facts and therefore, the extent to which we can change our thoughts.  The absolutely amazing news is that when you change your thoughts, you change your feelings, which changes your behaviour and ultimate life results.  And we have total control over this!

It takes work.  It’s not like a giant buffet table of thoughts that we just walk up to and pick from. New thoughts need to be believable. Authentic. Real.

But it can be done.

So empowering.

Something we have over an old dog learning a new trick.

This is what my life coaching practice is all about.  Helping those older and wiser contemporaries of mine rock at doing their midlife thing.  Living your life intentionally.  Living the life you want to live.

Follow my blog and download my top tips on how to regret-proof your life! Click here:




Copyright © 2013 - 2023. All Rights Reserved.


BONUS! Blog and Podcast Updates!

By entering your name and email address, you agree to our Terms & Privacy Policy

Please check your email inbox & spam folder to confirm.

Grab the FREE Get Unstuck in Midlife Podcast Bundle!


Top secrets from the 12 most popular podcast episodes to fall in love with your life again.


By entering your name and email, you agree to our Terms & Privacy Policy

Check your inbox / spam folder to confirm.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Skip to content