January is a month set aside to remind people the importance of training your dog. In some ways I would prefer socialize, educate and help your dog assimilate into modern human life over “train”, but for ease of writing let’s just stick with train.
What does that mean to you and your dog? Maybe you don’t have very high expectations of your companion and you are perfectly happy if they hang out and at least don’t pee in the house or chew your shoes. But you are really missing out on a life enriching experience if you don’t engage further with your dog in something. Dogs like people need to have their minds and bodies stimulated with some type of activity in order to stay healthy and vibrate. But beyond that the relationship and understanding you will develop with your pal will forever change your perspective on dogs, other animals, and even life itself. Our dog companions are very much reflections of our lives. How committed are we to some goal or ideal, how serious we are ourselves, how generous, friendly, happy, healthy we are is indeed reflected by the way we interact with the dog by our side. So take a look and be honest with yourself (and your dog) just where do you really stand on all this.
If you want to get started and have not ever done anything too much with your dog before you should start out with simple things, like a regular walking time in different places every other day, or at the least once a week. My guys can’t wait for this time and will yip with joy when its time to go. You can take a toy to toss for those whose dogs are retrievers or take some treats and try tossing them for your dog to find with his keen sense of smell.
Many training centers offer trick training classes and you’d be surprised how many of the tricks learned in class can be turned into helpful things the dog can do around the house. If you like, there are several ways you can earn titles even by doing the tricks.
If your dog likes to use his nose sniffing things out, sign up for a scent training class. Almost all the training facilities are offering it now and I guarantee your dog will thank you. Sniffing fun is for dogs of all ages and breeds and the one thing they all seem to enjoy immensely. Its a natural act for them so you don’t need a lot of training skills in order to have fun with your dog.
Another thing a large number of dogs enjoy is dock diving. This is an activity where the owner tosses a favorite retrieve item in a pool and the dog jumps from the dock to get it. During competition they will measure the distance and titles can be earned but there are a lot of places that offer it for fun as well. It is not difficult to get an eager retriever to jump after the toy and it is surprising the many different breeds you see that enjoy it too.
These are just a few ideas to get started, but certainly not the only things you can do. The point is do something with your dog, get out there with your dog and engage. Your dog will benefit greatly from it and if you keep it up, his behavior will continue to improve. Well mannered dogs just don’t happen, you have to work with them every day, interact in a meaningful way daily, and keep doing it all their lives. You asked your dog into your life and I feel you owe it to him to make it a good life by giving him the most important thing possible-something to do with you. Happy training!