Happy New Year!

Despite the harsh cold and piles of snow that January brings, the start of a new year always energizes me. January 1 is a new chance to start all over! I like to take time at the start of the year to plan out things I want to accomplish, whether they are minor or major things. Of course these plans don’t always work out, but I always enjoy the exciting feeling of possibility a new year brings.

In addition to the changes I want to make in my own life, I also want to make some changes for my dog. Although my dog and I have been together for over two years now, I still feel like a new dog owner in many ways. I definitely haven’t done everything right, but I am working on it! I am constantly reading up on training tips and new things to do, I just haven’t always been able to implement them into everyday life. I jokingly told my sister the other day that my next dog will be really well trained.

I think the problem for me is 1) that Hunter is basically an easy dog so I am less motivated to work on behavior issues with him and 2) I just think everything he does is so cute! But, it’s a new year, a new chance, so I am going to try. Here are some of my New Years Resolutions regarding my dog:

Become the alpha
After reading this article, I realized I have some things to work on in solidifying my alpha status. I always tell people that I think Hunter thinks of me more as his buddy, rather than his leader. It’s hard to be the alpha when you just want to snuggle your dog all the time! I do try a lot of these things, such as never giving my dog table scraps and (almost) always entering the door before him, but there are several things here I need to work on, especially regarding consistency. One thing on the list that I don’t think I can do is #13. Although I do agree with not letting him push you out of the way, and making him sleep at the bottom of the bed.

Learn New Tricks
We’ve all heard the expression – “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that is definitely not true. Dogs are always learning, picking up clues from your behavior and other dogs around them for how they should act. And most importantly, your dog wants to learn! Dogs need mental, along with physical, stimulation. This article from PetPlace has some good ideas for working with your dog on new tricks. I haven’t gotten that far with Hunter yet on new tricks, so this year it’s my goal to teach him at least one new trick. We made some progress last year on “roll over” so I am going to focus on that one first.

Find some new toys
This may seem like a strange one, but I have a really hard time finding any toys that engage Hunter. We can only spend so much time taking walks and doing training at home, especially in the winter, so I am always looking for things to keep him entertained. When your dog eats most toys, and has little interest in ones he can’t eat, this is a challenge. I also don’t always want to give him toys that involve food, so I am on the hunt for good indestructible, non-food related toys. Expect a blog post sometime this year revealing my findings!

What about you? What are you working on this year with your dog?