New Year, New… Dog?

So, 2018 has arrived, I hope you all saw in the New Year in style and wish the best for you and your loved ones. I’m sorry to add another ‘New Year, New Me’ social media post, but hopefully this one has a bit of a twist. The majority of these New Year posts focus on the individual human being, and how they can improve as a person, improve their lives and hopefully improve how they impact those around them. How many of them make any attempt to focus on how they can improve the lives of their pets though? So far, I’ve seen no posts that mention pets and how to improve their lives over the course of a New Year. Hopefully this post will help change that and inspire others to include something beneficial for their pets!

Now I adore my dogs, Timon and Pumba, but I couldn’t 100% truthfully say I am happy with all that they do. Given this, I don’t see why they should enter a New Year without a set of goals to achieve and work towards. The first goal for the dogs is to always have fun. No matter what I do with my dogs this year, I want the only thing at the forefront of their minds to be “Oh man! This is so much fun!!!” If at any point this doesn’t ring true, the activity will stop immediately, I will review and change my plan to approach the scenario, beginning only once I can guarantee my dogs will enjoy it.

The main focus of this goal will be husbandry behaviours, such as grooming, examinations both by myself and family members and vets, although it will apply to any training or activities I do with them as well. I’ve already done a bit of work on this with Timon as he used to scream upon entering a veterinary practice let alone if anyone or anything approached him. I worked very hard over the summer to ensure that he finds the vets to be an amazingly fun place to be. I started by playing ball with him in the car park. He loves his tennis ball and getting him moving and going after it was a way of stopping him overthinking all of the smells from the vet clinic, as well as the smells left by pets that had left and entered, which very likely carry high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, given the environment. I’ll be carrying this further with both dogs so that no matter what they enter the vets for, they go in with a wagging tail, kisses for whoever is examining them and complete joy for the whole experience. This will not only make the experience good for both dogs, but reduce the stress and general nastiness of the whole scenario for the vets and nurses involved as well as myself. Benefits all around!

I have multiple training goals with the both of them, but the main one, and my second goal is to work on our trick training and parkour. I hope to get at least a basic title on both of them in each. The main reason I want to do this is because no matter what training I’m doing in a parkour or trick capacity, I never find it frustrating, I never expect too much from the dogs and am always pleased with them merely trying something new, and often quite scary for them. I believe having this as my main training focus will ensure that I stick to working on the first goal for the year. If my dogs are able to perform the tricks they love and find fun with me in whatever environments that I ask of them then I count that as proof that my training has focused on fun and purely positive experiences for them throughout the year.

My third goal for the year is to bring my first two to all of my clients. I hope as you read this you are thinking of things you would to achieve with your dog in the upcoming year. My goal from there is to teach my clients how to achieve these goals, whilst their dog and they themselves are having fun. Totally regardless of the exercise I’m teaching.  To encourage myself to be a better teacher, I plan on taking at least one class a month in something that I’m not skilled at. This can be related to dogs or otherwise. I believe this will remind me what it’s like to be a learner, especially when learning something that doesn’t come naturally. I’ll even be taking classes on things that I find utterly boring to remind me how important it is to keep things fun and interesting for those I’m teaching!

What are your goals for the new year? Let us know in the comments!

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