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Dog Days!

January is all about the pups! This month we celebrate both National Train Your Dog Month as well as Walk Your Dog Month. We are happy to celebrate our canine companions any chance we get and what better way to start the new year?

National Train Your Dog Month was started by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers years ago. Dog training is not only a fun activity to pass the time but it also helps to strengthen the lifelong bond between trainer and canine. Dog training allows for easier encounters in public, at the vet's office and even in your home. Training is critical in the healthy development of your dog's ability to understand and interact with their environment. If you do not have experience in training the blast place to start is puppy classes! Group classes provide your dog with exposure to new people, dogs and situations accompanied with positive associations. These positive experiences help your dog gain confidence and adaptability which can help lessen behavior problems down the road. Puppies that attend puppy classes are less likely to show nervousness or experience separation anxiety. Pairing positive rewards with new experiences of any kind will build your pup's confidence and reduce their anxiety. Through training you can help you puppy become less fearful of anything from their crate to the vacuum cleaner. Puppy classes will not only enhance your puppy's skills but will also provide you with new tricks and techniques to master the training regime that best fits your pack. While puppy classes tend to cover basic obedience commands like "sit", "down" or "stay" you will learn the methods necessary to communicate any commands you choose with your dog. Once you master basic commands you can advance to more challenging and rewarding tasks. Dog training may mean advancing in behavioral and obedience or even trying agility, 'nose work' or therapy training. No matter how far you take your training it is always fun to start with a new trick or two. Whether you teach yourself or look to the experts your dog will surely appreciate the special attention.

Walk Your Dog Month coincides perfectly with dog training as exercise is crucial in keeping your pup healthy and happy. Exercise alone reduces excessive licking, barking, chewing and other anxiety behaviors. A nice long walk can even help your canine focus and be more successful during training sessions. Their bond with you will strengthen and their confidence in their environment will grow. Walking your dog provides not only physical exercise but also mental stimulation, socialization and opportunities for training. Many dogs enjoy the chance to adventure and experience the world the same way we do. Different dogs require different levels of exercise and simply have different preferences on how they like to spend their time. No matter your pup pass times, as long as your dog gets to spend time with you they are sure to be happier. If you happen to be looking for fun ways to spend 2021 maybe now is the time to try some new activities with your four-legged friend.

For more information on the benefits of socialization see the AKC article: The Power of Proper Socialization — Puppy Training Classes Pay Off

- Meghan Lauro

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