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