January has been proclaimed National Train Your Dog Month by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. The goal is to promote the importance of training and socializing for dog owners. So many dogs are acquired by people as gifts during the holidays and by now, just about a week into the new year, the initial glow of the fuzzy muzzle or bouncy antics often turn to annoyance, disappointment, frustration and anger.
Don't expect your dog to magically transform into Rin Tin Tin or Lassie without taking a proactive role in your dog's education. Socialization is key to helping prevent problems in the first place. Winter in many climes is antithetical to such efforts -- cold, snow, shorter days -- it's just harder to get through the day to day. Adding the challenge of going out and about to socialize your dog can be daunting.
Take advantage of group classes suitable for your dog's age and ability. Group classes should allow for both on and off leash work and unless it's specifically for aggressive dogs, there should be opportunity for dogs to have off leash play.
If you don't have time in your schedule for a group class and seek private instruction instead, you still need to take socialization, especially when young, but throughout the life of your dog, as a critical part of the dog's overall well being and ultimately, the success of the dog to remain in your home throughout his or her life.
So put on your boots, layer up, and get out there and have fun with your dog!