New Year's isn't the only good time to make new resolutions....ANYTIME is a fabulous time!  

We all develop bad habits with our canine partners, so why not make a few resolutions to change? 

Resolution #1:
I will set my dog up to succeed so I can reward good behaviors more than I punish "bad" behaviors. 

When your dog does something you consider bad, ask yourself three questions:

  • Have you taught him the "right" behavior?
  • Have you proofed your training so that the dog is compliant 80% of the time in 80% of the situations he is in?
  • How did he have the opportunity to be "bad"?

If the answers to 1 and 2 are "no," then you cannot place blame on the dog.  Dogs are dogs and do doggie things.  They are scavengers, so they will take whatever food is within reach.  Dogs are social creatures and jumping gets them closer to our faces for a "polite" doggie greeting.  Dogs walk at a faster pace then we do, so they are not pulling on the leash, they are walking at their natural pace.

The answers to question #3 are going to give you the key to your dog's training problems.  Training a dog or puppy is at least 50% managing the dog so he doesn't have the opportunity to get into trouble. Just as your parents used cribs and playpens to keep you out of trouble, use crates, tie-downs and exercise pens to prevent your dog from practicing "bad" (also known as normal) dog behaviors.

Resolution #2:
I will become a person worth listening to by taking control of valuable resources. 

As time passes, we all start to let little things slide.  Maybe you've started to throw the ball down the hallway when the dog drops it in your lap.  You absentmindedly pet your dog when they nudge you while you read a book.  You start getting out of bed earlier and earlier because the dogs wake you up to be fed.  Now is the time to take a fresh look at who is calling the shots in your relationship

Resolution #3:
I will tell my dog what I want instead of waiting for him to do what I don't want. 

Once we get success teaching our dogs new behaviors, we often fall into the trap of expecting them to know how we want them to behave in every situation. Don't forget that dogs are very literal.  If you teach them to sit at the back door, they won't "know" that they should sit at the front door.  Your dog is not a mind-reader!  If your dog is not giving you the behavior you want, take a step back and ask yourself, "Have I told him what I want?"  You might be surprised.  Your dog can only do one thing right, but he can do 100 things wrong. Make it easier on both of you and tell him what you want!

Resolution #4:
I will give my dog more physical and mental exercise. 

One of our resolutions is to get out and exercise, and that's something that our dogs can participate in!  That said, don't forget that mental exercise is equally as important for your dog as it is for you.  You would not be satisfied if you walked the same route every day, but returned to an empty room without books, radio or television to stimulate your mind.  Finish your walk with a short training session that ends in a fun game of fetch for your dog.  Pick up a book on teaching tricks and spend 5 minutes teaching a new trick each night.  You might be surprised how fast your dog catches on!

Resolution #5:
I will stop making excuses for my dog's behavior and start working to change it. 

"He's barking at me because I'm in his chair." "He won't go outside because he doesn't like to get his paws wet."  How many excuses do you make for your dog's bad manners or non-compliance?  Excuses don't change behavior. Training does!

Resolution #6:
I will stop attaching labels to my dog and focus on the behaviors he exhibits. 

Humans feel such a need to wrap everything into nice, neat labels.  This is especially true in the dog world, where we label certain breeds and behaviors as "aggressive" or "dominant".  Both of these terms are subjective and don't describe what the dog is actually doing.   For example, some dog owners report that their dog is very aggressive when jumping on people.  To one person, this may mean that the dog is snarling and growling while jumping, while to someone else it may mean that the dog is especially persistent in the jumping.  See the difference?  When describing your dog's behavior, avoid the labels and stick to the facts. You will be able to address those specific behaviors more effectively.

Our dogs are a reflection of the time and effort

we have put into training them.