In case you didn’t know, January is National Train Your Dog Month. It’s actually a good idea during a month when we’re usually closed in a lot and looking for ways to beat cabin fever. I think a lot of people hear the word “training” and mental blocks go up. A lot of Greyhound people seem to think that training is a dirty word, but I disagree. I think training covers everything from learning how to do a specific job like being a service or working dog, learning obedience, learning basic house manners or learning new tricks. Training is actually good for you and your dog. It can be a great way to strengthen the bond you have with your dog.
When a new dog comes to our house, one of the first things they learn is manners at the back door. Our dogs wait until we say “okay” to go out the back door, even though there’s another door at the bottom of the steps. The reason is one of safety. I don’t want our dogs thinking they can run through any door. Even if I look out and see something wrong, I can grab them, tell them to go back to the living room or avoid having them greet guests rudely. I realize that it is not a fail safe, but it definitely helps.
After that, though, the sky is the limit. Our dogs visit nursing homes, so we do work on manners, both greeting people and other dogs, as well as the “leave it” command. If there were ever medication on the floor, I don’t want our dogs at risk. I want them to walk up to people calmly and not jump on them or jostle them. Manners are very important when you’re visiting places like hospitals and nursing homes.
What I’m thinking now, though, is that this weather has made it time to blow the dust off our “Dog Tricks For Dummies” book and stimulate our dogs’ brains a little. We’re all tired of being cooped up, and if they learn a cute trick that can impress the people at the nursing home or guests when they come over, so much the better. And if it proves to be more than we can master, there’s no harm or foul involved. It’s just a fun way for us to spend time with each other and strengthen our bond.
I haven’t decided for sure what trick I should try to teach Flattery, yet, though. She started to learn “on it” and “take a bow” but we never polished it up. I may start there and then see if we can move onto something showier. I’ve seen a few tricks that I think are cute, but I’m not sure if we can master them. I think working on it will be good for both of us, because I’m still trying to figure out how Flattery’s brain works. If you have treats that are too good, she turns into a treat mugging zombie and if they’re not good enough, then she’s not motivated.
If you have some suggestions for us, feel free to leave them in the comments. I can’t promise great things, but I recognize that as a younger dog, she needs some extra stimulation and the truth is that I need it, too. If you’re working on teaching your dog something this month, we’d love to hear what it is.