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Local Woof: Happy Train Your Dog Month!

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The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Happy Train Your Dog Month!

January is National Train Your Dog Month. So if you have any room left on your resolutions list, perhaps you can add one more: train your dog for five minutes a day. Believe it or not, give minutes a day can actually make a difference.

How is this possible? Well the cool thing about positive reinforcement training is that it does a lot more than simply teach the dog a behavior. When you work positively with your dog, you do two other really important things.

First, you strengthen your relationship and second you improve your communication. In fact, relationship and communication are the keys to effective, long-lasting dog training. It’s easy enough to teach your dog to sit, but to get them to sit every time in every situation requires a solid relationship and clear communication. Second, short daily training sessions keep these skills sharp and are like exercise. They keep the behaviors strong.

So how can five minutes help? Well to start with, if you are not doing any daily training, five minutes is already MORE than you were doing! And five minutes is easy to commit to.

When you feed your dog, take one handful of food out of your dogs bowl. Ask for a few sits and downs or tricks that your dog already knows, and when the handful is done, your training session is done. Voila! It’s that simple. Now of course, once you get into the habit of training for five minutes, you might be inspired to train a little more.The bottom line is that the more you practice, the better you and your dog get at working together.

Another easy way to sneak some training into your busy life is to use real life rewards. Every day you do things for your dog. You let them out, you let them in. You take them for walks, you feed them and you give them treats. It only takes one minute to ask for a sit before you let your dog in or out of the house.

In this situation, you don’t need a treat reward. The thing that the dog wants — going outside, coming inside, being let out of the crate — is the built in reward. Using real-life rewards is really helpful. During the course of the day, you can end up asking your dog to “practice” behaviors 10 or 15 times and the result is a really polite dog.

So this January, steal a little bit of time from your day to train your dog. You can read more about National Train Your Dog Month, sponsored by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, here.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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