New Years Resolutions with your dog in mind
2018 has come and gone. It's hard to believe, isn't it?! And we're already heading into the second week of 2019! I don't know about you, but every January I'm all about the resolutions. Maybe it's just to distract me from the fact that we're entering the dismal month of January (anyone who knows me knows I spend a LOT of time in January and February complaining about the weather... guess I just wasn't made for Chicago weather!), but I like to make goals for myself. I don't always follow through with them (being less attached to my iPhone has been on the list since 2015... guess whose iPhone is sitting next to her as she types this...) but one or two usually stick!
Regis didn't understand why everyone was still so awake on New Years Eve... So, what kind of resolutions have you made with your dog in mind? Here are some ideas for you and your pup (NOTE: some of these resolutions will be more suited to confident dogs who tolerate new situations well. Always take your dog's temperament and personality into consideration):
- Try to fit 5-10 minutes of training in every day: I like to compare training to exercising; most fitness magazines recommend scheduling exercise in your planner and committing to it like any other appointment, and you can do the same thing with training! Or, if something more passive sounds appealing, try to commit to training your dog every time you're waiting for something in the microwave, or every time you're waiting for water to boil. You'd be surprised at how this time adds up!
- Teach one new trick a month: This one is simple but can help improve your relationship with your dog and make for some cute party tricks! Here are some great, simple to teach tricks to start with: crawl, roll over, bow, paw, high five, sit up, spin clockwise, spin counter-clockwise, speak.
- Go to one new place every week or month: As our dogs become more ingrained in our lives it can be easy to fall into the same routine; walk the same routes, only going to the same places. This can be boring for our dogs, and make it harder for them to accept novelty as they get older. Try going to one new park, forest preserve, or dog-friendly store a week or month to introduce a little more excitement into your dog's life.
- Pick one behavior problem to improve on: Does your dog jump like a maniac? Pull on leash like a freight train? Demand bark? Does he do all three?! It can be overwhelming when looking at the total scope of our dog's behavior, so choosing one thing to work on and sticking with it can help!
- Pick a new dog sport: The world of dog sports is growing, and working on a sport with your dog can improve your bond and boost their confidence! Try agility, nosework, barn hunt, rally obedience, parkour, bikejoring, or any other sport to build your bond!
- Try taking a group class: If competing in a dog sport doesn't sound like your "thing", all is not lost. Even just taking a class to brush up on manners or learn some new tricks is a great experience for your dog!
- Try one new enrichment activity a month: Mental enrichment is just as important for our dogs as physical exercise, but it can be easy to overlook! Try buying one new puzzle toy or enrichment activity a month to help your dog keep their brain sharp!
- Work on a grooming or husbandry procedure: Does your dog have a hard time at the groomer or vet? This year, commit to helping your dog learn to tolerate nail trims or even injections at the vet's office! This is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done with Regis and Phoebe, and I LOVE getting to work with my students on fear-free grooming and vet procedures!
January is National Train Your Dog Month according to the APDT, and what a great reason to dive back into training with your dog! Let me know what goals you have for you and your dog in the comment section below!