Train Your Dog Month Challenges

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Every January, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers hosts Train Your Dog Month. The idea is to encourage everyone to work with their pups a little more – ideally each day. I’ve participated in the past, and even though I strive to train with them year round – as I think everyone should! – it’s great to have that sense of a beginning and end to a specific goal.

And so that’s where I started, with goals.

Emmett working
“This looks like a solid strategy, but I better run it by Newtkins for approval.”

For Cooper, I have two goals for January. First, complete the relaxation protocol all the way through one time in the kitchen. Second, make grooming more pleasant. While we worked on his nails last year and made some improvement, it’s still a struggle. His ears are a nightmare. (Oddly enough, he’s fine with baths.) So I’m going to use the clicker and work incrementally to build up to a tolerable pleasant grooming routine.

For Lucas, my main focus is to complete the relaxation protocol all the way through in the kitchen. Because he’s gone through so much training (a trainer once pointed out that reactive dogs are often some of the most well-trained dogs simply because they’re always training…), the first few days will be a piece of cake. Once the door is involved, it’s a whole different story. So, even though Coop has this goal, too, it’s a different bear with Lucas. But I know we can do it.

For Emmett, I was stumped. I honestly hit the wall. He’s rock steady out and about. He’s not “perfect” by any stretch, but there’s nothing we need to desensitize him to, there’s nothing he needs to learn, experience, or do differently. This post sat in my drafts folder all morning because I just couldn’t come up with anything for him. Then, I had a complete light bulb moment while reading Pamela’s post at Something Wagging This Way Comes.

Instead of focusing on setting up and completing a training task, with Emmett I’m going to focus on lifestyle training. We’re going to go new places together and spend time having fun out and about – something he’s sorely missed since we moved to Louisiana. We’ll work on puzzle toys more frequently and possibly train a few just-for-fun tricks, but only if he’s enjoying the process, no end goal in sight!

So, there ya have it! Our Train Your Dog Month plan of attack.


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