Train Your Dog Year Challenge

My innate laziness has always made the concept of New Year’s Resolutions anathema to me. The idea that I am going to change my whole lifestyle because of a simple calendar flip seemed ludicrous. Besides, everyone knows January is one of the darkest, most depressing months of the year, it is hardly the time I am most motivated to do something crazy, like stop eating sugar. Can you imagine? Giving up the very thing you need the most to survive? I don’t think so.

I don’t like setting goals I know I won’t meet. They used to make us do that in school. I remember being forced every year by my homeroom teacher to write down five things I hoped to accomplish. Cripes. It was junior high. The only thing I wanted to achieve back then was invisibility. Every time she handed out the sheets of paper I would have to rack my brain in order to make something up. I became quite skilled at telling people what they wanted to hear but it didn’t help me obtain anything. If nothing else, the involuntary practice just made me even more resentful and bitter.

But I digress.

Train Your Dog Month

The wise author of Something Wagging This Way Comes has once more been generous enough to dedicate her time to promoting the annual Train Your Dog Month Challenge. As much as I may loathe resolutions, I do appreciate the theory behind the yearly event. Originally conceived by The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, dog owners across the world are encouraged to spend the month of January working with their furry friends on everyday manners and social skills. It is a fun way to get motivated to work on some of the things we all know our dogs are lacking. Whether it be anxiety-based reactivity or teaching our dogs not to counter surf – ahem, Delilah – the notion is that we will buckle down and use the cold month to achieve something with our of which we can be proud. I adore the thought. If only it was so easy to put into practice.

This is where Something Wagging’s brilliant blogger challenge comes in.

As an obliger, I realize I need outside pressure in order to fulfil my commitments. It isn’t enough for me to say I want to do something, I need others to nudge me into doing it even when there is a fantastic new book series loaded into my eReader. This is why I signed up with Alfie’s Blog to co-host what is always a fantastic blogging event. Not only am I obligated to follow through this time as a certified co-host but I am also going to be the recipient of all of your ingenious inspiration. It is a win-win as far as my pets – and I – are concerned.

This will be the third year of the challenge and I fully expect all participants will be giving it there all. It’s not about competition over who teaches the neatest trick. Rather, it is about building the bond, dedicating the time to enhancing our relationships with our animals. No matter how perfect your dog or cat or hamster is, and I am sure they are all fabulous, no doubt there is something you would like to work on. This is your chance! It doesn’t matter whether or not you succeed, what is important is that you spend that little bit of extra time together.

As I mentioned above, I detest New Year’s Resolutions. They are so floppy and inevitably meaningless. We only make them because we think we are supposed to. This year, however, I have made a resolution that I hope you all will help me keep. In 2014, I am resolving to spend more time with my dog.

That’s it. No special behaviours, no fancy moves, just quality time building our relationship. Since we are no longer actively involved in agility, I have noticed a lot of things slipping. Not due to any fault of Shiva’s, of course. Mostly because we just don’t break out of the routine very often any more. We walk, we cuddle, we play tug, we go to sleep. And that’s it. I would like to change that. Shiva and I used to be a unit, a team, an awkwardly deluded duo. I’d like to get that back. I mean, there was once a time, I even convinced her to prefer my praise to chasing The Cat!

This time, I am taking Train Your Dog Month one step further and declaring 2014 Train Your Dog Year. Each month I am going to work with Shiva on a new behaviour. It may not be exciting. We may end up utter failures. We will definitely make idiots of ourselves. But we are going to have fun and revitalize our former synergy.

Remember these good old days?

So. Who’s with us? If you need a little monetary incentive, APDT is also offering a cash reward for winning videos showcasing testimonials how training your dog improved both your life and your relationship with your dog.  They are looking for clips that let the public better understand the value and benefits of training your dog, which is what Train Your Dog Month is all about.

Plus, for anyone who participates in the blog challenge, we’ll pick one training team at random to win a $25 donation to their favorite pet charity and a prize pack for you and your dog. Pretty awesome, eh? You’ve got nothing to lose!

I do hope you’ll join in. Remember, you don’t need a dog or even a cat to participate. I’d love for this year to be the first fishy participant! All species are more than welcome. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

8 thoughts on “Train Your Dog Year Challenge

  1. Oh, we’re definitely in! Tomorrow’s blog post is actually partly about this. I want to introduce the clicker with Flattery. It’s time she started learning some things. And I have a specific trick I want to work with Bunny on to help with our nursing home visits. We’ll see how it goes!


  2. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! 🙂 I’m maybe doing a challenge this year too. But I still need a little more time to think of it.



  3. Gee, Kristine, I’m so happy to be a source of social pressure for you. 🙂

    Yeah, I’m with you on the whole resolution thing. Where are the resolutions to think we’re just fine the way we are? But when I saw that the APDT was emphasizing training as a way to build the bond with our dogs, I was convinced.

    Your first video was such a good demonstration of that. It was fun to watch Shiva looking up at your eagerly as if she was thinking, “Oh goody, I wonder what she’s going to do next.”

    And it was even better to watch the cat who looked as if he was thinking, “I am definitely intrigued about what’s promised here but I’ll play it cool so no one thinks I really care.”

    Thanks so much for signing on to co-host. It definitely makes me more accountable too. 🙂


  4. I am so with you on the Jan 1 resolutions! Why should I change something just because December ended? Or why should I have to wait until then to change something – why can’t I just do it when I notice something needs changing? Baffles me. But I know the industrial diet institutions make a killing off it.

    But I like the goal set. As far as I’m concerned, training goals ultimately boil down to just spending more time with your dog, working on your relationship.


  5. I’m in! I’m going to try again with Ms Glee the Diva Bunny. We didn’t succeed last year because of equipment failure (who knew a rabbit could chew through a thin basket handle), but I think I have an idea that we can accomplish for this year.


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