You’re a great dog owner – dog parent, if you prefer – and your dog is lucky to have you.
How do I know?
You’re reading this dog blog, probably others too.
You’re actively seeking information that improves your training, care and overall enjoyment of life with your dog.
You also know that you’ll never say, “Okay, I’m done. I’m a perfect dog owner. I can improve no more.”
Because you know that never happens. You enjoy becoming a better and better dog owner and sharing what you learn with the dog lovers around you.
Here’s my dog training New Year’s resolutions for 2016. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments section!
1. Train a new trick every month.
By 2017, your dog could know 12 cool tricks.
Your dog might find some tricks challenging – she might feel uncomfortable rolling on her back, or she might not have the structure that allows her to easily sit up. As you train new tricks throughout the year, you’ll uncover your dog’s capabilities and learn to work with her strengths to build up a repertoire of skills.
Need creative trick ideas? Sign up for email updates to get free access to our e-book, 5 Cool & Easy Tricks To Teach Your Dog.
You’ll also get updates on our Trick of the Month – so you’ll have new trick ideas all year long.
2. Always be training.
Whenever you’re with your dog, especially when you’re not home, remember: you’re always training. Carry treats and have your dog sit, stay, down and come at the park, at your mom’s house, at the vet… everywhere.
Dogs don’t generalize – they’re not capable of automatically applying their training at home to every situation.
If you only have treats and ask for her obedience while you’re at home, she won’t realize that you expect her to listen to you regardless of where you are and what’s going on around you.
3. Play with her every day.
Playtime is so much more than a fun diversion.
The more you play with your dog, the stronger your bond. Notice how closely she watches you when you’re about to throw the ball. Pay attention to how she learns your patterns and you learn hers.
When you’re in-sync with your dog, training comes much more naturally, and you appreciate having her around even more.
Playing with your dog also provides exercise and mental stimulation to help prevent bad behaviors caused by boredom.
4. Talk to her even if she doesn’t understand.
Say, “I’m sorry,” when you accidently step on your dog’s toe.
Tell her she looks beautiful when you put on her collar or sweater.
Thank her for being so patient and well-behaved during your four-hour flight delay.
Tell her you love her before you go to sleep.
Nobody knows how much human speech your dog can understand.
But everyone knows how a few sweet words make her face light up.
Additionally, you can discover your truest human friends when you openly talk to your dog. Ditch anyone who gives you crap about it. You don’t need that in your life.
5. Stand up for her – Be her voice.
Never let anyone mistreat your dog.
Don’t even let well-meaning children squeeze her – especially if you know it makes her feel stressed.
Flattened ears, a lowered head, yawning, lip-licking and a sideways glance are all body language signs your dog might show if someone is making her uncomfortable. She can’t scream, “STOP IT!” in plain English, so she needs you to be her advocate at all times.
Don’t let anyone tease her. Nobody should purposely scare your dog. Nobody should handle her in a way that makes her uncomfortable.
That means making a child cry when you pry your terrified dog from their grubby little arms.
That means saying, “Please stop, she doesn’t like it!” even if you feel awkward, or don’t want that person to dislike you.
What’s your doggy New Year’s resolution for 2016?