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January 10, 2014

Paw Prints: New year, new habits

January is the month for fresh starts and new beginnings. You have already made your New Year’s resolution, and you’re determined to stick with it. Having a buddy play along can make the habit easier.

Fido is perfect for this task. He already adores you, and he’s happy to be your partner in any way he can. But Fido needs new habits to work on, too.

The goal is to be consistent so that Fido understands what is expected of him. All too often, we decide on new boundaries for our dogs but don’t follow through later. We may be distracted or tired, and just let it go. Sometimes, one person sets boundaries, but other family members are not on board. This is confusing for Fido and teaches him he can do whatever he pleases.

So start the year off right, and you and Fido will have an even closer bond with one another. Here are some ideas to get there.

Only feed your dog from his bowl. Even if you decide to share your dinner with him, never feed him from your plate or at the table. Otherwise, you are teaching your pal to become a food thief. These dogs beg and drool endlessly while you are eating, and help themselves to extras on counters or tables. They are prone to obesity and other health issues. And your own food plans may be prone to periodic disarray.

Teach your dog to walk nicely on a leash. This simple training technique can make your daily exercise with Fido much more enjoyable, especially if you have a large dog. Unruly dogs are also more likely to cause you injury, such as slipping on ice. If you have a puppy, it’s easy to teach him to “Heel!” on command. But older dogs can learn, too. A choke collar, if used properly, may be helpful during training sessions.

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