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January is National Train Your Dog Month

Picture: Pet Sitters International

For the seventh year in the row now, APDT (Association of Professionals Dog Trainers) celebrates, in January, the National Train Your Dog Month! Sure January is almost over but we still have 11 other months to enjoy the fun of training our fur friends can be, and really, what a great way it is to bond with them than to start the year by polishing up their manners, whether they were adopted or rescued, or an old buddy you would like to teach new tricks.

I’ve got three training tips on here to help you get your year, and of your dog, off on the right paw:

Come!: this command is potentially life-saving, as it can prevent your dog from running off if he/she gets loose. Always start training indoor where there is low distraction until your dog and you are ready to try it outside. You would want to make your dog run toward you, and this can be done by using your ‘happy voice’ as an encouragement. You can associate this training with play time, with a toy, or just opening your arms. Give your dog a praise and a treat when he/she reaches your side. Once your dog realized a reward (a small treat) is given when coming to you, start giving the verbal command ‘come’. Because this is such an important command, the praise you give for the performing should reach the value of its importance. Respond to come command should be the best part of your furry friend’s day.

Sit!: the purpose of the sit command is to get your dog to go from standing to sitting but not to continue sitting, you need to understand this first in order for your dog to follow your command correctly. Stand directly in front of your dog and let him/her see that you have a treat in your hand. Raise the hand with the treat in front of the dog’s nose to let her/him get the scent then above the head level. Most dogs will naturally sit to get a better view of the treat. Give your dog an immediate treat and praise (say ‘good sit’ when the behavior your are practicing is performed). Look for times throughout the day when your dog sits on her/his own and praise the behavior. Sooner than you imagine, you will have a dog that sits for attention instead of jumping or barking at you.

Wait at doorways!: you don’t want your dog running out of the door every time it opens, this could be dangerous for her/him so take advantage of training your dog every time you have the opportunity of going through the doorway. Start by bringing your dog along with you on a short leash when walking to the door. Before stepping through the door, give your dog the ‘wait’ command, use the leash to stop forward movement. Praise him/her for ‘waiting’ with praise and treats for the ‘good wait’. You can also use ‘sit’ command if the door is closed. She/he will wait while the door is opened and will not cross it until you give the releasing command, then give a separate command to encourage him/her through the doorway by using the ‘come’ command.

A few things to keep in mind: there are numerous other training/commands you can do with your dog, take advantage of them! Spend time with your dog and show how important he/she is to you! And remember, a majority of behavior issues starts from the lack of proper exercise. Take your dog out for a walk, a 30 minute walk per day will bring your dog and you great benefits!

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