If there is one resolution everyone could make regarding their canine companion for 2013, I would wish it could be the switch to the positive-reinforcement frame of mind in interacting with and training one's dog.
The old-school version of dealing with and shaping dog behavior involved punishing the behaviors that we didn't want or like. The more modern way of dog training encourages rewarding the behaviors we do want and ignoring or redirecting those we don't.
It's really that simple.
I would also encourage everyone to get out and walk their dogs more. The benefits of socialization just from walking around your neighborhood are endless and crucial to a happy, well-mannered dog. Expanding these escapades to include local parks, regional parks, state parks, etc. only increases the enjoyment for both ends of the leash. The beautiful scenery and peaceful quiet for the human is a treasured time away from the hectic schedule of normal day-to-day life. The new sights, smells, and creatures to meet or sniff tires out a dog in no time, and leaves them content and quiet the rest of the day.
Not sure what direction to take your dog's training? I would encourage people to pursue the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluation. It consists of ten elements of basic manners, obedience, and handling skills required to pass. These are the essential elements to build the basic "perfect companion dog." I would also recommend people consider putting Trick Dog titles on their dog. Kyra Sundance's organization has come up with five levels of certification in trick performances: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and Champion. These titles can be done in the comfort of your home, and the Novice-Expert titles only require a witness' signature and verification with the $20 application fee. You can conveniently apply online, or by mail. When approved, the owner is sent a frame-able certificate, and their name along with their dog's is added to the registry for that title. The TDCH is a little trickier, requiring a video submission and higher application fee at $109.99. Intermediate Trick Dog title holders can apply to become a Certified Trick Dog Instructor.
Whatever you do to enjoy your time with your dog, I hope you get many opportunities in 2013. Happy New Year, everyone!