National Train Your Dog Month

Emi and Luca, dogs walking on beach

Luca and Emi roam the beach, of course Emi is on a lead.

Well the new year is fully upon us and along with the resolutions we make for ourselves, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about some resolutions for our dogs. I’m sure there is at least one thing your dog could benefit from learning this year. Emi and Luca seem to be complete opposites when it comes to what they want to learn and what they choose not to. Both of our dogs went to training classes when they were about one year old, which was the time that each of them came into our lives or else I probably would have taken them sooner.

Emi has mastered just about every trick in the book including sit, lay down, up (onto an object), off (of an object), under (crawl beneath an object), over (jump over an object), stay, over (roll), shake,  hug (put paws on our shoulders while sitting), stand, enough, quiet, leave it and take it – she is a pro at our in-home obstacle courses but she pretty much refuses to learn the most important command I can think of – come! Now I’m pretty sure she knows what it means but her independent nature refuses to let her follow the command. I ended up with a deep scar across the back of my ankle after relentlessly trying to teach her to come on a 20 foot leash at the dog park in Memphis. She much preferred doing giant, speed-of-light circles around me as I stood there bleeding and fighting tears. I haven’t given up but I have learned that she will never be an off-leash dog anywhere.

Luca on the other hand knows the command come and that’s about it, unless a treat is dangling in front of his face. Although he somehow managed to graduate from obedience class he celebrated by jumping up and immediately destroying his certificate that was handed to my husband, such a proud reminder of his schooling.

I often say that we needed the obedience classes more than the dogs and although that may sound funny I think a lot of dog owners fall into this category. It’s important to learn that spoiling your dog or unintentionally rewarding their poor behavior can lead to unwanted behavior.

So I challenge you to take the time this year and teach your dog at least one new trick. My goal for Emi is of course come and for Luca it will be quiet, even when a squirrel is begging him to play.

For a little inspiration and 20 Uses for Dog Tricks check out this post from The Association of Pet Dog Trainers

What will you try to teach your dog this year?

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