When January 1st rolls around, everyone seems to have new resolutions on their mind. Whether it’s to lose weight, quit smoking or watch less tv, people are pretty diligent about it for the first few days… and then quickly go back to their old habits. My message for people this New Year is to turn resolutions into good habits and stick to them. In addition to making resolutions for yourself (which I hope you stick to), make resolutions for your pets.
Training our dogs is an ongoing process. We don’t bring a dog home, train it for two weeks and then call it quits. Every interaction we have with our dogs is essentially a training session, which means we are training our dogs throughout the dog’s lifetime. As a New Year’s resolution for my pets, I want to spend an average of fifteen minutes a day working on fun and/or meaningful behaviors with them. The fifteen minutes can be spread out, in fact, it’s probably more fun and effective if the sessions aren’t always blocked into one formal training session time. Instead, training is woven into our day and by keeping it random and spontaneous, the animals never know when they will be reinforced! It’s this same concept that makes gambling on slot machines so addictive for humans!
Let’s not forget about our other furry and feathered friends. Parrots, cats, rabbits, etc. can all be trained using positive reinforcement training methods and most excel with the use of marker signals such as a clicker. So be creative and have fun. Get out there and train with your pets. Not only will it give your pet some mental stimulation and exercise, it will help reinforce the bond the you have with your pets and have them respect and be more attentive to you!