Ready to start your year off right and train your dog to be the best dog ever? Michelle Blake, MSW, CDBC, CAE, Chief Executive Officer for The Association of Professional Dog Trainers has ten resolutions you should have to make 2015 the best training year ever, chose one or all. Tell us in the comments what your training resolution for 2015 is!
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#1 – Use training in your everyday routine
Training your dog doesn’t have to be a strenuous, one hour lesson every day. In fact, experts believe dogs learn better during short sessions. So, just by adding in some training during your regular routine – like sit for the leash, stay while you open the door, etc., can be easy to remember to train every day.
#2 – Ask your dog to sit or do a trick before each meal
This is an easy, short lesson that teaches your dog to work for what he wants. It also teaches self-control (don’t just dive in for your food) and can help you remember to train your dog.
#3 – Vary your rewards
Positive reinforcement trainers tend to fall victim to treat, treat, and treat some more. But remember, like humans, dogs love more than one thing. In fact, it’s been proven that after a while, getting the same reward loses that rewards values, so it’s better to vary rewards. You can use treats, toys, play – whatever your dog loves!
#4 – Take your dog to a fun class like dog sports or tricks
Classes are a great way to keep you interested in training. Especially something fun like sports or tricks, which are fun for the dog too.
#5 – Teach a new trick or behavior each week
Having a goal (like a trick a week) is a great way to make sure you keep going! You can get ideas online or create your own tricks.
#6 – Socialize your dog or puppy with new people and places
This means get out! Set aside a certain day (or two) each week to take your dog on “outings” with the purpose of training. Taking your dog to the store and having him sit in a bag or the cart while you shop does not count. These trips are about your dog and training, like a stay on a long line at the park.
#7 – Make sure you are both having fun
If it’s not fun for you and/or your dog, don’t do it. Remember, there is no “have to” here. Pick sports, behaviors, etc., that you and your dog want to do. If you get frustrated, stop and re-evaluate. Life with your dog is far too short to not enjoy every minute of it.
#8 – Give your dog more exercise
This is a great resolution! It’s not only healthier, but you will find you have a more well-behaved dog (a tired dog is a good dog). It’s also good for you, too.
#9 – Become a therapy dog team
If you have a dog with the right personality, why not become a therapy dog team? There is nothing like giving back and sharing your dog’s unconditional love with people you really need it.
#10 – Make training a part of every month of the year
Whether this means signing up for a new class each month, working a certain set of behaviors (maybe January is “leash manners,” February is “tricks”) or simply creating a written schedule so you don’t forget to train, make this year the year your dog learns something new each month.