Happy New Year everyone! Like so many of you, this is a time when I reflect back on the old year and think about how I would like to improve things for the new year ahead.
Dogs just want to have fun.
When it comes to dogs and dog training, there are some many areas that can use our attention. If you are a dog sport competitor, you may focus on a new title or skill in your chosen event. If you are more casual dog owner, you might want to investigate training some skills with your dog. If you are a busy professional, you may want to find ways to include your dog a bit more in your life.
Something that has been on my mind lately is not just spending time with dogs, but how we use that time. Is it for us? Or is it for the dog? Because I am a dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast, I observe many canine – human relationships. I find it interesting to watch and chat with people about their pets and how they interact with them.
I think I can say, while dogs enjoy training and interacting with their humans, they don’t really care much about competing. O, they do it. And some appear to enjoy it, but I doubt any dog would beg you to sign him up the next agility trial or obedience competition. The training is good for the brain and the body, and even the relationship. But the competition is really for the people.
Conversely, dog who have no boundaries or structure may not have mentally healthy lives. Having to guess about appropriate behavior is stressful. Being treated like a baby one minute and scolded the next can create an unsatisfying relationship between dogs and their owners.
And, for dog who spend large portions of time alone, well, it makes me so sad for them. Dogs are companion animals. They like company and interactions. And because they are great companions and adaptable to our needs, we should be adaptable too.
My suggestion for the new year is to do things with your dogs you all enjoy! I used to drive my old dog around looking at Christmas lights. I doubt this will ever become a sporting event, but she loved going for a ride. It was special time together we could both enjoy. Or just go for a walk together. Or do some training, not with the intent to compete, but with the idea to have fun. We have all become so focused on the prizes and achievements we forget to enjoy the journey. There are so many easy ways to include your dog in your life, take advantage of them and the pleasure they bring.