“I’m worried about falling behind with training progress over the Christmas period. What can I do to avoid this?”
Matt says: Christmas is a special time for all the family – including the members with four legs and a coat of fur! Long wintery walks and evenings cuddled up on the sofa can mean your dog will feel more spoiled than ever – but the change in routine can disrupt the progress you’ve been making with your training.
Your training classes might be off until the New Year, but there are simple things you can do at home to stay on top of your training and avoid letting bad habits slip in, which will require extra work to undo once Christmas has been and gone. Here are my tips:
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- Replace your regular training class with an online alternative. There are plenty of training videos on YouTube and from the experts over at absoluteDogs that can help you continue to learn and make progress from the comfort of your own living room!
- Don’t go overboard with treats. I’m not saying your dog can’t enjoy a bit of turkey come Christmas Day, but remember that treats should be used as a reward for good behaviour or for responding well to instructions. Dishing them out very frequently for no reason can undo this association in your dog’s mind.
- Help your dog cope with stressful situations. In the last article we talked about ways to help your dog cope with a fear of fireworks. Just like Bonfire Night, the festivities during December – whether it’s a visit from relatives with loud children or the bang of Christmas crackers – can cause your dog to become distressed. A distressed dog is more likely to exhibit unwelcome behaviours that contradict your training efforts. Giving your dog a safe and secure ‘hiding’ place can help them avoid feeling stressed out.