January is National Train Your Dog Month

January 1st, 2021

Ringing in the New Year usually comes with plenty of promises to alter our behavior. While most of our resolutions fall by the wayside by February, here’s an easy – and fun! – commitment you can make this year: train your dog. January is National Train Your Dog month! This quiet(er) period after the hubbub of the holidays is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your pup and teach them some new tricks or brush up on their obedience skills. This year especially, we’ve all got plenty of time at home to dedicate to Fido’s well-being.

If you adopted a quarantine dog this past year, congrats! We bet you’ve learned by now that they can be a handful, an adorable, lovable one, but a handful nonetheless. Whether you adopted a brand new puppy or rescued an adult or senior dog from the shelter, all dogs benefit from a little discipline and will love showing off their new tricks. Start the new year off with some easy-going commands and consistent reinforcement, and you’ll see improvement in your dog’s behavior in no time.

Try teaching your pup two tricks a week for the month of January. By February, your pooch will know eight tricks! These should start simple. Come, sit and stay are the foundation of training, as you will use them to keep your pup focused while learning more advanced tricks. Positive reinforcement is the name of the game – only encourage your pet when they do the right action. Never punish them for doing something wrong, it doesn’t help and will only confuse or agitate them. 

There are many benefits to training your dog, aside from having a neat party trick. Training provides dogs with good manners and helps with socialization – both with humans and with other dogs. A trained dog is easier to take on trips, hikes, outings and to public spaces. These learned behaviors also help when meeting people while on walks, when people come to your house and even to visit the vet. Plus, dogs really do like to have boundaries! They can help lower stress levels, prevent destructive behavior and enhance your mutual bond of trust.

If you have a new puppy or untrained rescue dog, start with the basics – come, sit, stay and leash walking. Once your dog has the hang of some basic commands, or, if they are already trained in the basics, move up to shake, high-five, lay down, speak, etc. If your dog already does something cute – like dance or head tilt – why not encourage it with a treat and verbal command whenever they perform.

Don’t encourage or treat actions that you do not want them to keep doing. That could be jumping on the couch or up onto other people’s legs. You can still use positive reinforcement to “unlearn” an action. Use a consistent command – like ‘no’ or ‘stop’ – and reward them only when they are not doing the unwanted action. Remember, do not punish the behavior, encourage a different one.

If you have an adult dog, don’t worry, old dogs certainly can learn new tricks! They may learn them a little slower, but many will be happy just to have the extra attention, and it will help build your bond with them. Be patient, go easy, and be aware of what your dog is communicating by their posture and mannerisms.

Or, make things easier on yourself in 2021, and get expert help with the professional training programs at Happy Hound. With our two-week program, your dog will learn basic commands, leash manners, off leash recall and basic etiquette. Happy Hound can also help with separation anxiety, aggression and even potty training! Some breeds and sizes need different types of training or support and Happy Hound has dealt with them all. So no matter what kind of dog you have or what level of training you are looking for, Happy Hound will ensure that your pup graduates!

This January, spend some quality fun-time with your doggo and build upon your bond by teaching them some new tricks. Dog training is a fun way for kids to get involved, too! A well-trained dog behaves better in public, which means you can take them along to games, family visits, the beach… wherever you go, they can go, too. Plus, they are generally happier and less anxious than dogs without any training and are more likely to remain in their forever home.

Do your dog, and yourself, a favor and invest in some fun training sessions during National Train Your Dog Month this January. Whatever your new year’s resolutions are, training your dog is relatively easy to stick to and will reward you for years to come. Now if we could only stick to our human resolutions…

From all of us at Happy Hound, we wish you health and happiness in 2021 and beyond! Happy New Year!