It's the New Year! To some, this is a chance to start fresh; start new. Maybe last year was rough. Maybe you just didn't accomplish quite everything you wanted to do. You're just ready to be proactive this time. I propose this year we all make an extra resolution - one for our dog(s)!
Our pets do so much for us by simply just being pets. They provide constant love and attention, listening ears, and licks (or purrs or nuzzles) of adoration. Let's all make a resolution to be better pet parents! I try pretty hard to be a great pet mom, but there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Here are some tips:
1.) Keep it interesting or keep it active.
"A tired dog is a good dog."
This old saying is so true (unless you have a dog like mine that can get "overtired-toddler" grumpy.) Keep your dog's life interesting. We all know physical exercise is important for a dog. Some have the advantage of a big fenced in area. Others are dependent on the human to take them somewhere.
If you can't take your pup for a walk everyday, get in some mental exercise. This can actually tucker your dog really well! You know how humans come home exhausted from an 8-hour desk job? The same can be true for pups. For them mental exercise looks a bit differently, though. It's working to eat, training, nose games, etc. (See our Christmas post, too.)
2.) Be the General Manager
We can't always depend on dogs to make the decisions we want them to make. They're dogs, and sometimes they are just going to do what works for them most in that moment. If you find your dog is having difficulty abiding by your human rules, put some management practices in place. Get a lid on that trash can. Put a baby gate up, blocking off the kitchen during meal prep. Use some basic solutions to help your dog be successful in an incredibly interesting world with way too many rules.
3.) Body Guard
Some people think their dogs should protect them. While many dogs seem to have a protective instinct, they are also protecting themselves. It's our job to keep them as safe as possible and to help them feel that safety. If your dog is barking repetitively at that person walking on the other side of the street, he might be scared. If your little dog is climbing on your legs while you're visiting your nieces and nephews, she's probably scared. Don't be afraid to tell people, "My dog needs space, please." Be their advocate.
Our dogs depend on us for everything. So along with everything else you do for your pups, let's keep their mental well-being in mind, too. Let your dogs know they are safe with you. Don't let this be something they second guess.
4.) Get Out, Get Social
Socialization is necessary for every dog (especially puppies.) Contrary to popular belief, though, socialization isn't just meeting other dogs. Socialization is exposure to new things through a positive experience. This means anything your dog experiences should be fun and happy.
Let's say you're on a walk, and a guy with a winter face mask is about to walk past you. Feed your dog something super yummy when he sees it. The mask that could be scary was just made a better. That's socialization! You know those rescue dogs that are often perceived as "abused" because they shy away from certain people? Sometimes, they are simply unsocialized to those particular types of people.
5.) Set Them Up for Success
I mentioned earlier that our world has a bunch of rules. There's food on the counter. Why shouldn't they take it? It's right there and smells delicious! Why would any other behavior be as worthwhile?
These weird human rules don't exist in the dog world, so we have to teach dogs our rules and other better behaviors to the ones they find acceptable and normal. It's our job to set them up for success, so they can be the best possible family members and canine citizens.
Make it part of your resolution to help your dog accomplish this goal - to be an amazing dog. Bring them to class, schedule some private training, or just spend more time with your dog! Whichever route you take, your dog with thank you for it!
Take advantage of our training code TRAIN2018. $10 off any 7-week class when registering during the month of January.
You can register for classes HERE.