Most everyone makes resolutions for the new year. The usual ones are losing weight, reducing debt, and spending more time with family. It’s that last one I want to focus on.
Your dog’s part of your family, right? So make sure you include him in your resolution! Maybe your dog’s a little too wild to take in public; maybe he pulls on the leash or barks too much. So, more often than you’d like, you find yourself telling your dog you’ll be back soon, and leave him behind. You may feel a little guilty – or you may feel relieved! Either way, the dog gets left behind.
Worse, his problems aren’t going to get any better this way.
Make a resolution to work with your dog to teach him the appropriate way to behave. What skills will help your dog? Maybe you could teach him to sit? Down? Play a "touch" game? Whatever it is, just get started. Don’t worry about how far you have to go, just start.
Once your dog is sitting (or downing, or whatever) really well at the house, start adding in distractions slowly. This is where most people make the big mistake of going from zero distractions to too many. A reasonable jump in distractions means your dog still has a really good chance of managing through the distraction.
One way to check: if your dog can no longer sit when the distraction is added, you’ve gone too far and added too much.
You may be thinking: this will take forever. I can tell you from experience that if you do it right, it won’t take forever and it’ll probably be a lot quicker than you think. And it will definitely be a lot more fun! Use your clicker, use your food rewards, and have fun! By June, your dog will be so well behaved you’ll be taking him to the lake, to the park, on hikes, camping, to the kids’ soccer games… the list goes on and on!