“T.A.P” Your Way to a Better Relationship With Your Dog in 3 Simple Steps
As the year unfolds, and people everywhere are making resolutions to change – whether it is a particular habit, a better exercise routine, or just simply trying to enjoy the great outdoors more – it is important for canine caregivers everywhere to extend this desire and motivation to improving their relationships with their canines. This isn’t to say that every canine caregiver should head out and become a certified trainer, or a practicing vet, but the positive changes in our own lives can be extended to improve the human-canine bond and further include our canines in our daily lives. I know this is a resolution we can all stick to: All you need are three simple reminders/changes for your daily routine, easily remembered with the acronym: T.A.P.
Take time everyday to work through the various commands that your canine already knows. Two 10-minute sessions a day with my Labrador are enough to run through the expansive list of behaviors that my boy knows (and even includes helping me tidy up the recycling around the house, and putting plastic bottles into the appropriate bin!). Also try changing up the location when you are doing the training session. Maybe one day you will work on the commands at home, and the next you will perform them while out on your walk. See any differences? Behaviors can change depending on the environment so “proofing commands” in different locations with different environmental factors will help ensure that your canine will listen the next time it wants to run across the field to say hello to their best buddy.
A: Appropriate Activity
Daily exercise is as important to a canine’s health as it is to ours. All breeds, small, large, flat-nosed, round, or dainty, will benefit from activity every single day. The key to this is appropriate activity. Dogs come in quite a spectrum of sizes that have a direct impact on their physical capabilities. So think of activities that are appropriate to the physical limitations of the canine (e.g. age, size, and breed related restrictions) as well as positive for their development and behaviour (e.g. non-destructive behaviour). It is important that these limitations are taken into account while partaking in daily activities to ensure that your daily play sessions are fun, productive, and free from harm.
P: Positive, Positive, Positive
The third, while arguably the simplest, can be the most difficult to embrace 100% of the time. It is to keep interactions, activities, and environmental situations positive for both you and your canine. Just like in our human education system, encouraging and constructive environments develop well-adjusted individuals keen to contribute positively to those around them. The same goes for you and your dog: keeping interactions positive will ensure that you both are willing and ready the next time a training situation arises. I like to tell clients that they should always “set up for success.” Set up your canine to succeed as best he can, as often as possible. You will be happy your dog is succeeding, and he/she will be happy that they are doing the appropriate, and rewarding, thing. Most importantly, your canine will be willing to “play-ball” again as they learn that success feels GREAT!!
So, remember, T.A.P. your new year’s resolutions for inspiration to make it a great year for you, and your dog!