You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is an old saying in the English language dating from 1534, meaning people who have long been used to doing things in a particular way will not abandon their habits. It was believed that it was quite difficult for old aged people to learn something new. Challenging, yes, as old habits die hard, but not impossible.


In 2016, Professor Stanley Coren, best known to the public for his popular books on dogs and on general psychological issues, wrote an article explaining how old dogs may learn more slowly but they will remember. It does not happen overnight. It takes up to 4 weeks for an old dog to learn new things, so patience cannot be over stressed. There’s hope for me then, although, it does not matter as I am forever 30!

Switch Your Mindset and Embrace Change

The thing I have known about myself is that I am resilient. I can adapt well when faced with stress. But with this sudden lockdown, I could have gravitated towards depression. Therefore, I knew I had to teach myself a different attitude and new routine to make changes. I had to take charge of my actions because it only takes a few seconds to indulge in self-destructive habits but it takes a lot of work to develop that drive and discipline in you.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

I used to find a thousand reasons why I could not do this or that. So, rather than being a couch potato and cramming as much Netflix as possible, I had to change in a positive way. I learned a new approach – my target was to set simple achievable goals because, I believe, part of the reason we procrastinate is because the task at hand seems too daunting.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

I have been longing to finish a few projects that I started years ago but abandoned halfway through. Maybe I was not passionate enough or maybe I did not believe in myself … but the truth is I did not give myself the chance to explore my talent and develop my skills. Now with the world on hold, I did not have any pressure – I could deepen my own discovery by pursuing my passion.


I decided to pick a new subject that would keep me busy as well as teach me something that will stay with me long after the world has resumed its normality. With the variety of online courses made available for everyone to access, I was spoilt for choice. It was all the more tempting as they were all free.

“The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body” – Dr Bruce H. Lipton

I joined a few groups: art & design, meditation, baking, creative writing and exercise. The couch to 5 km challenge was too much for me. I only managed running up and down the stairs. I gave Tik Tok a go. What a better way to learn the moves without making a fool of myself in front of others. I was wrong. I got bruises from the amount of times that I fell over trying to replicate the Shuffle dance and could not even manage the Running Man. I resigned myself to lip-syncing.

“Challenge yourself, it’s the only path which leads to growth” – Morgan Freeman

What I Learned

Overall, the experience has been nothing but positive and somewhat addictive (I’m almost a pro at breadmaking). Some courses are fun, others quite hard work but mostly enjoyable. Through learning I have rediscovered my self worth and hence can pursue my passion. Old dogs may learn slowly but they remember. I’m like a dog with a bone and I won’t let go.

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