January is a time to reset, reboot and resolve to make changes.  This month brings opportunities to balance our activities, practice patience, and surrender to winter’s slower natural rhythm.

January is also, National Dog Training Month.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) began their National Train Your Dog Month campaign in January 2010, hoping to raise awareness about the importance of proper training and healthy socialization to support a dog’s well-being.

Why January? Because so many dogs and puppies are adopted or purchased around the holidays and because far too often these dogs are later relinquished to animal shelters or abandoned.  Most people who get a dog do so with the best of intentions; however, those who wind up surrendering their new pets to the shelter often do so because they’re not prepared to handle their untrained dog’s behavioral issues. Maybe the dog is hyperactive, barks at every noise, or is destructive; or perhaps  fearful, shy, or behaving aggressively. Often it’s not because they’re bad dogs — it’s because they haven’t yet been given the appropriate tools they need to know how to be good dogs.

Inexperienced owners might try temporary fixes  — isolation from the house and family, yelling, shock collars, or something worse. These actions only make the problems more severe.

As you reflect on your 2016 resolutions give some thought to “what makes your dog happy.”

Put on your thinking cap and come up with ways to keep your dog busy this winter.

  • Go on a field trip walking new trails and dog friendly beaches, (if you’re lucky to be in a coastal area).
  • Sign up for a training class, like Agility or Nose Work. Search for a trainer that both you and your dog like and want to work with.
  • Host a dog party inviting dogs and their people over for a lively romp  followed by something warm to drink and a healthy snack.

January and February are perfect months to

  • reset progressive training
  • re-establish well-timed praise
  • remember patience
  • and create a routine practice