Dog’s Eye View: Fido’s New Year’s resolutions: Ready to make them and break them
I will only bark if a bad guy is breaking into the house. This includes delivery drivers, postal carriers and the church lady.
I will only eat the kitty food if it’s stale or smells like fish.
I will forego the litter box. This is a really hard one!
I will not raid the hamper to display your underwear when we have company.
I will not drag my butt on the carpet. The arm of the sofa is softer and works better anyway.
I will not crotch sniff company unless they just came from the gym.
I imagine most dogs won’t hold up for very long with this list of resolutions. It sounds like a whole lot of “No, don’t do that’s” and not enough training.
What is it about the new year that gets us all excited about starting something new or changing our habits? How many years do we make the same self-promises only to fall short again and again. I think that’s how the “mystery weight” shows up in our wardrobe or the same closets keep getting packed tighter.
Is it easier if your life depends on it? We know what happens if we don’t pay the bills. That makes motivation stronger because the fallout from late payments can really mess with your life. So, why did I start this column with Fido’s New Years resolutions and end up with bookkeeping nightmares? I guess it’s to find the magic formula to create a consistent workable plan to help our family dogs grow into the dream dogs we always wanted. Just like diets, if you stop and start, you won’t get the results you desire. Making a promise to your dog that you will spend quality time training and providing enrichment is a great New Year’s resolution. But, if you start and stop, you cannot expect long-term success. And it takes time.
A major part of my job is working with wonderful people who adopt or rescue dogs. Often, the old habits that ended with the dog in the shelter are caused by broken promises. We open our homes and hearts to take in a shelter dog, and, within a short time, we begin to learn the reason someone gave up on them in the first place. Of course, we all know that love is not enough. I’ve had several rescue dogs in my lifetime and only one fit in from the get go. She cost me two pairs of Teva’s before I learned to keep my shoes up. But, that was it. Within 6 months, she turned into a dream dog and we enjoyed her for many years. My others have required much more time, management and training effort. These are the dogs that built my skills and tested my resolve.
So, to end this article, I’d like to offer one easy resolution to begin the new year. Start with five minutes per day. Practice asking your dog for “sit.” Sit for your dinner; sit to be petted; sit to go out the door; sit to put the leash on. Sit for every interaction. Offer praise and a treat in return. The second day, offer praise every time, but offer treats for the fastest sit. By day three, begin to observe your dog. If he offers sit without being asked, party like there is no tomorrow! He gets an A+ for thinking. Try this for one week in the house. On week two, start outside on your walk. I’ll just bet he starts paying more attention to you. And you have created a new resolution solution! Happy New Year’s!
Laura Tyler is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with 30+ years of experience and has earned Associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work™. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.
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