“Who’s a good boy?” We always pose this question to our pups, and this year might be the year Fido finally makes the resolutions he needs to live up to the ‘good boy’ persona. This New Year’s, he’s making some goals for himself to make sure there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the best boy. He may chew on the occasional sock or two, but that’s just because he’s looking after us and wants us to buy new ones. And maybe he had an embarrassing accident this year, but it’s just because he gets excited when we’re finally home from work. Here’s a list of Fido’s New Year’s resolutions. Let’s all help our pups live up to their goals this year.
For nearly all of these resolutions, it’s a good idea to have low-calorie, all-natural treats on-hand that will help Fido fight the urge to bark, jump, and resist bath time. EcoTreats is ideal because it’s made from premium ingredients, USA-sourced, and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
I will try not to beg too much.
Our meatball subs always look so mouthwatering. Can we really blame Fido for giving us those irresistible puppy dog eyes at the table? We can help him with this New Year’s resolution by making a point never to share while we are eating. Don’t even make eye contact while at the dinner table, which may take some practice. If we have some leftover carrots, we can walk them over to Fido’s dish after we’re completely finished with dinner. Finally, it can sometimes help to give Fido a spot. It can be a blanket or dog bed, but it needs to be his spot that he lays down in every time humans gather to eat. It doesn’t even need to be far away. Just put it far enough away that he can’t inch his way to the table, and close enough that he doesn’t feel separation anxiety. Don’t forget to give him a treat after dinner if he makes it through meal time without getting up, other than to play in another room or go outside.
I won’t pull on my leash.
Going outside is so exciting! There are smells to smell and places to go, but walking a dog who is always pulling just isn’t enjoyable for humans or dogs. We can help Fido with this New Year’s resolution by finally teaching him how to “walk close” or “heal.” Every community has loads of dog trainers and walking on a leash is something all of them teach because it’s just as core to any training program as sit and stay. Don’t want to pay for dog training? Connect with one online and ask them for advice. Or join a dog walking group using Meetup or a local dog park. Fellow dog guardians don’t mind sharing dog walking tips with their wag network.
I won’t be difficult during bath time.
Uhg, Bath time. A difficult task for all of us. Although getting a massage with shampoo seems like it should be relaxing and fun, it really only feels good when it’s over. So, let’s help Fido enjoy bath time a bit more by adding a structured system of rewards. We can introduce him to a new favorite water toy outside of bath time, followed by play during bath time. Bring low-calorie, healthful treats into the mix by enticing him with a treat to get into the bath. Then reward him after each rinse. And hand over a favorite chew toy or rawhide after the bath. End every bath time with a game, a walk, or a favorite playful past-time so there’s always something to look forward to. And of course, making sure the water is the perfect temp, checking it often, and using shampoos that are low-scent or scent-free. There’s no reason to assault their senses on top of everything else.
I’ll do my best not to be jumpy whenever there’s someone at the door.
Stranger danger is real, and many dogs somehow know this concept instinctively. But it isn’t exactly Fido’s best moment when he thinks he’s the household alarm. And it isn’t ideal when he jumps on our friends as they try to make their way past our adorable hellhound, even if he’s jumping to give them kisses. We can help Fido get better at not jumping on people in two ways. The first is to work on training him to stop jumping on us with a “down” command. Once he’s past that point, we can use that same command when company arrives. The second is to ask our guests to also use the “down” command. When they aren’t using the command, they need to avoid eye contact and walk past Fido. Only give him eye contact and a calm, happy hello when he is calm and keeps four paws on the ground.
I’ll stop barking and be a better listener when my human says, “no.”
Sometimes Fido has a hard time putting his attention on exactly what we want because this world is so amazing and carries so many distractions. When Fido starts barking at a car, the mailman or the horde of squirrels he is certain are gathering to stage an invasion on our home, we can help him with his resolution to stop the paranoid madness. Instead of adding to the excitement by yelling, we can try two different tactics. One or both of these will reliably work with every dog. The first is to redirect attention, rather than compete for attention. If he is barking at, squeak his favorite toy and offer to redirect his attention to playtime. We don’t have to play for long, but we do need to follow-up on the promise of play for just a couple of minutes. That’s long enough for the first distraction to pass and short enough that we can get back to what we were doing. Plus, if we squeak and don’t play, he’ll stop responding.
The second trick is to praise Fido. That’s right, praise him. And no, this isn’t reverse psychology. Fido is just trying to warn us of danger and points of interest. If we acknowledge his efforts with a good boy, some eye contact, and a healthy rub behind the ears when he comes over to us, he’ll often feel his job is done and stop barking. If he’s still pretty excited, we can follow the “good boy” with a calm, soothing, but firm follow-up command, “OK, that’s good. All done. Lay down.” We can then have him lay down nearby and work on being calm, while we pat his head and help him calm down. Fido will learn to self-soothe and calm himself faster and faster. It’s important to note that there are occasions when we should respond by getting up, checking the window or door he was barking at, let him know everything is okay, and then tell him he is a good boy while encouraging him to join us back at our original location for some calming belly rubs.
As guardians, it can sometimes be tough to remember that Fido really is just a product of our training skills and ability to understand dog psychology. Don’t be afraid to get professional advice. Always use positive reinforcement to direct their behavior toward what we want him to do. Negative reinforcement may tell Fido he has done something wrong, but doesn’t answer the obvious question of what is okay instead of that bad behavior. Following these simple tips means we’ll have a better relationship with Fido. Helping him reach his New Year’s resolutions makes us the best friend Fido deserves. By the end of the year he really will know we’re talking about him when we ask, “who’s a good boy?”
- “Basic Dog Training,” AKC American Kennel Club
- “Top Ten Dog Training Tips,” Petfinder
- “Dog Training Tips,” Animal Planet