I don’t know about you, but I find the start of the new year to be very motivating. Last year is now a thing of the past, and now is a great time to start to break old habits and to start to build new habits. Here are 5 new easy habits: 1. Go for a walk For most dogs, walks are great. It gives them lots of mental stimulation and some physical exercise too. Many pet owners have stopped walking their dogs because of pulling. It’s not fun to be pulled around all the time. And when dogs that never get walked finally get out, they pull even more. You’d actually be surprised what happens if you walk everyday. You may find that your dog pulls less because walks aren’t as exciting. And if you’ve been walking your dog in a flat collar, consider switching to a front attaching harness or a head halter. These tools work by removing leverage which means the pulling has less strength behind it. 2. Sit on the ground One of my favorite things to do is sit on the ground with a handful of kibble or treats and train my dog with free shaping. This means just letting my dog offer out behaviors and then I reward the ones that I think are cute or ones that are headed in the direction of a behavior I’d like to see more of. This is a great way to teach a dog to target something with their paw or even pick something up with their mouth! After 5-10 minutes your dog will be feeling mentally stimulated. 3. Capture the good If you haven’t yet, now is the time to have some treat jars placed around your home so you can reward the behaviors your dog does that you like. You can “capture” the behaviors that happen on their own by saying, “yes!” and then providing a treat or you can ask for them and then provide the treat. Capturing is fun because it helps us be more aware of the “good” behaviors our dogs do often. 4. Wander the yard Another awesome way to bond with your dog and also get a better recall is to wander the yard with your dog and then randomly recall your dog for a food reward. The more you are out there and the more you call and reward, the more your dog is going to pay attention to you. This comes in handy in a lot of scenarios, especially when you’re trying to call your dog inside. If you’re looking to switch it up, get a long leash and head to the park. Find an open area and let your dog sniff for a while. When you’re ready, recall your dog, reward and then say, “okay, go play!” 5. Look out the window If your dog enjoys looking out the window, try looking out with them. Wait for them to notice something and then see if you can get them to make eye contact with you for a reward. This can be a fun game, but can also help decrease barking at things outside. Additionally, when done with a lot of consistency, it can help dogs build positive associations with people and dogs passing by.
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