We all know that we make new year's resolutions for ourselves, but do you ever include your dog in those resolutions? I included my dogs in 2 of my 5 resolutions--more exercise and more training for them. See, even a dog trainer needs to do more with their dogs! Which brings me to those that aren't dog trainers . . . .
Many people assume that if they have trained their dog to respond to a cue (sit, down, stay, etc.) then they are done. Dog is trained. Check that off the list. Don't be too hasty. As my mentor trainer always said, usually in a group of dog owners, "Can someone tell me when you know you can stop training your dog?" Everyone would be silent, trying to think hard for the right answer. The answer was always, "Never. You are never finished training your dog." Training is an on-going process even with those seemingly simple cues. Why do you think dog trainers dogs respond (or so I hope they do) so reliably to these simple cues? It's because they use them daily. I know in my dog's daily routine they have to sit for food, wait to go out the back door and sit for greetings. Those are a few of the common rituals we have.
Pick up a new skill. If your dog is pretty good at basic obedience and you want to expand his vocabulary and skill set then join a tricks class or start agility with your dog. These types of things are great for mental stimulation and maintaining great skills and the human-canine bond. You can also try our "About Town" group class that takes the basics out to the streets and trains humans and their dogs to work through real-life situations politely.
Exercise your dog appropriately. While one certain TV dog trainer brought more dog owners to the realization that they weren't exercising their dogs enough, he didn't mention that exercise alone wouldn't solve your dog's problems. This is why I recommend exercise that is both physically and mentally stimulating. If you are walking your dog for hours on end but he's still "everywhere" then you haven't been balancing mental exercise and physical exercise enough. You can cause your dog to run off of adrenaline if you just exercise, exercise, exercise and do not provide productive and appropriate forms of mental stimulation. I have several programs that address this issue and we can easily help you with this! Our all new Outdoor Adventures is particularly great for this!
Feed your dog a well-balanced and healthy diet, it makes a difference. For those of you who have worked with me you know how big I am on diet. Diet can be the cause of many problems both physically and mentally, just like humans. However, dogs aren't humans so there are many things that they shouldn't have. For example, dogs have no need for carbohydrates and grains. They should have a diet very high in protein, namely good sources of meats and fish. A great resource for diet and specific diets for ailments, such as constant allergies and even kidney issues, is "Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs" by Lew Olson, PhD in Animal Nutrition.
Having a dog isn't for someone who doesn't want to put work and effort into it. In order to maintain your dog's health both mentally and physically you have to put some elbow grease into it. It can be tiring at times and even frustrating, but when you train and raise a dog properly the rewards are tremendous for us humans! I couldn't imagine life without a dog!
Happy New Year . . . and keep your dog's busy. Let me know how I can help. We will start offering group classes again in late February/early March.