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2024 Resolutions for Dogs

Welcome to 2024! As the new year begins, you may be reviewing the previous year, and considering what you want for the following year. You consider what goals you have, changes you might like to make, and how to achieve those changes. While you are preparing for 2024, we challenge you to also consider your dog. Perhaps the holidays were a little rough, or you want to achieve higher levels of obedience for a better quality of life together. Perhaps you got a new puppy for Christmas and have no idea where to begin. Including your dog in your 2024 resolutions can be beneficial for both you and your dog’s improvement of life. 

The first thing to consider when choosing goals is how to set ourselves up for success. One of the biggest factors for success in dog training (and in forming any new habit) is consistency. Consistency is key in any goals you might have in life, but it is especially important in your dog’s life. If you are constantly trying to teach your dog different things, using different commands in obedience training, or allowing a behavior one day but not allowing it the next, it can become very confusing for your dog. Lack of consistency will slow the learning process and create frustration for you both. Choose a few specific things you would like to practice and stick to them! Your training goals don’t need to be extensive or complicated! It can be as simple as practicing “heel” in your walk for 15 minutes every day

When you are choosing what you would like to teach your dog, think about what will be sustainable for your everyday life (keep it simple!!). How much time do you have every day to train? How much attention span does your dog have? If you work a full time job or have children you may not have hours to set aside for training every day. Keeping training simple and integrating it into everyday life will allow for the most consistency and the best results in training. This could mean teaching the dog to “lay down”, then practicing while you eat dinner or watch TV. This could mean stopping at doorways going in and out of the house and making them wait to be allowed through. This could mean keeping a short leash on when you’re at home so that you are able to give directions and communicate more effectively what is and is not allowed. 

Remember that “what you practice, is what you get”. It is important to practice basic obedience, structure, and routine all throughout the year so that when you enter the holiday season or want to go to the lake this summer you aren’t unprepared and stressing about their behavior last minute. We must form a foundation for our dogs of how to life and behave. This should not only be about training all the “tricks” (though this can be fun!), but it should also be about training for your lifestyle. You have to model and practice what you want your dog to be. If you want your dog to be calm and restful in the house, show them how by training with the crate or having intentional “place” or “lay down” time. If you are constantly hyping them up or allowing them to do zoomies around the living room, this is what you will get all the time– they won’t have an “off switch”. A few practical tips to set a foundation, practice in the home by keeping a leash on them (this can be an old leash or a piece of rope for puppies who tend to chew) so that you are able to teach calm behavior, practice a few basic obedience commands, and give “down time” in the crate consistently. One of the biggest components in training anything is just to be clear and consistent. 

Be clear, firm, fair, and consistent in everything you do with your dog. Always train for YOUR life, if you don’t need or want to train a cool trick– you don’t have to! Make training fun and enjoyable for you and your dog, but also make it practical and sustainable. If you need more specific help in creating a calm and enjoyable life with your dog, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified dog trainer! Having someone who is experienced can make all the difference in allowing you to enjoy life with your dog.

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