Day 31: Social Play

Play is important for dogs. However, not all dogs are instinctively good players, and not all dogs are good play matches. If possible, try to find good play matches for your dog(s). Puppies and teen dogs may benefit from socialization classes to build or improve their social skills, and even some adult dogs may do well in social play classes. Negative interactions with dogs can be harmful to social skills, especially for young dogs and teen/young adult dogs in sensitive socialization periods. Look for positive interactions, and don't be afraid to step in—calmly—if you feel a situation is getting out of hand. Thanks for joining me for 31 days of dog training! Keep training!...
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Day 30: Safe Spaces

It is important that your dog have a safe place in your house to go when necessary. This could be a crate, dog-safe room, or other location. For Sirius, he goes in his crate when we leave the house, because it is the safest place for him to avoid dangers such as stairs while unsupervised. Safe spaces may also be used when contractors are in your house, when your dog needs a quiet area, or for other reasons. Your dog's safe space should be just that—a safe space and not a punishment. Ideally, your dog would know how to go to his or her safe space on a cue. ...
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Day 29: Use Outside Cues

We make heavy use of visual and verbal cues in dog training, but we often see the other cues in the environment as an impediment rather than a help. We complain that our dog won't sit in an unfamiliar location or come in the face of a competing distraction. These are issues that we have to train to overcome, but we can also build situations that allow us to use outside cues in our favor. One of my personal favorites of this type is the use of a special bed or blanket for relaxation exercises. When consistently used for this purpose, the bed or blanket becomes an independent relaxation cue, reinforcing the cue you are giving. ...
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Day 28: Go for a Walk

Nice weather? Take the opportunity to get out of the house. Undesirable behavior can be a result of excess energy. When bad weather—cold, dark, snow, etc.—reduces outside exercise time, these problems can become more pronounced. When you get a chance to enjoy nice weather in the winter, take the opportunity to burn extra energy through outside exercise. ...
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Day 27: Have a Release Cue

If you are asking your dog to stay in one place for a given length of time and she is listening, that's great! Now here is the next step: letting your dog know that she can move around again. Many people instinctively want to use "OK!", but I would caution against doing so. "OK" is such a common phrase and is used so widely in our culture that it becomes very easy to accidentally release your dog with potentially problematic—or event dangerous—results. Instead, choose a word that isn't part of your regular lexicon or used for another training activity. Personally, I use "Let's go!" ...
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Day 26: Interspecies Relationships

Dogs are social creatures. They can form friendships with humans and other dogs, but also with cats, birds, and small animals. Of course, the potential for such friendships varies based on the temperament and socialization of the animals involved. It also varies based on management. Good relationships depend on strong management by the human members of the household who keep everyone safe and reduce stress levels. ...
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Day 24: Practice Something Fun

Sometimes it's important to remember that dog training is also about fun. It's best experienced as an enjoyable way of bonding with your pet. To remember that, make sure to practice things you both enjoy. I love Sirius's turn and he loves it too—as he has been known to express by trying out the turn when I have asked him for something else, although that wasn't the case tonight. ...
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Day 23: Take Your Medicine

As much as we all hope our dogs will stay forever young and healthy, the truth is that sooner or later most will need some type of medication, whether painkillers after surgery or topical medicine to treat an injury or infection. Administering these medications can be difficult, especially if your dog is not used to this type of handling. Start adjusting your dog to potential handling of this type in advance can be helpful. If your dog's breed is prone to certain illnesses, that may also give you an idea what to prepare for....
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Day 22: Watch for Behavior Changes

What is your dog's normal behavior pattern? Do you see a change? Behavior changes can have a multiple causes. They can result from physical illness or injury, and a comprehensive veterinary exam is usually a good place to start if you see significant changes in behavior. Stress and changes in routine can also cause behavior changes, which can also develop over time as a result of specific experience or prolonged exposure to certain stimuli....
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