Last Tuesday I was at a Home Dog Training session in Lithonia with a new client and her 10-month-old Brittany Spaniel named Walter. When I first walked through the door, I came to the immediate conclusion that Walter was “completely nuts”. I don’t mean that he was a “bad boy”, he just had complete control of everyone in the household. He wouldn’t listen to anyone and loved to steal anything that was on the floor or low enough for him to jump and retrieve. My client never had dogs before, and she needed direction on the right things to do to have Walter understand who was the boss.
It didn’t take long to have Walter obeying my client and providing proper focus when requested. She was extremely happy with the results and looked forward to use what she had just been taught to help Walter be a good companion and welcomed family member. As I was wrapping up, my client had another question. Her boyfriend was going to be in Minneapolis on a business trip on Valentine’s Day and she thought it would be fun for Walter to be her Valentine. Walter would be her first “canine Valentine”, so she wondered what she could do to make the day special while maintaining the training we just completed.
I explained to her that Walter has no concept of “Valentine’s Day”. To him, it is just another day that he is sharing with her. On the other hand, my client knows that Valentine’s Day is a special day built around the celebration and encouragement of positive relationships.
At this point I reminded her that “building a strong relationship” is key in having a great dog and having a great time on Valentine’s Day. She can have a great Valentine’s Day as well as build a stronger relationship with Walter. It is a “win-win” for everybody. I suggested a list of options that could fit the occasion while maintaining a positive human-canine relationship:
- Give Walter a “Pet Spa Day”. Although this may sound a little strange, it is really more like “going to the groomers on steroids”. An aromatherapy spa treatment will relax and calm Walter. Start off with a warm bath and blow dry, and wind up with a soothing and relaxing massage.
- Take Walter someplace new and different. Getting out of town for the day with Walter will allow you and Walter to bond while experiencing a new environment. You don’t have to go far away. You could go somewhere close like a weekend cabin in Blairsville where you and he can take walks, sit on the porch, or hang by the fire. You can easily find “dog friendly” cabin rentals if you check far enough in advance.
- Our coaches always told us to “take a lap”. Well, when it comes to Walter, share some exercise. A walk through the neighborhood and a picnic at the local dog park are great methods to burn off some extra energy and enjoy some quality time together.
- If Walter isn’t into the athletic stuff at the moment, try taking him on a shopping spree. Jump in the car and take Walter to Petco or PetSmart. Walter always can use an extra sweater for our Northern Georgia winter. Another idea would be a new dog bed. Dogs always love dog beds, and you could put it by the sofa or your bed so he will have his spot next to you.
- You might think about having a portrait made with you and Walter. The time that both of you spend together while it is being taken will be a great bonding moment. Having this as a memento and reminder of a special time will bring joy long into the future.
- I rarely see a dog that doesn’t love toys. Wrapping a chew toy up as a Valentine and having Walter “open it” would be a great, positive stimulus for Walter and a wonderful bonding moment for both of you.
- Have you thought about “staying in” and enjoying a dinner and a movie with Walter on Valentine’s Day? Look on Netflix or Hulu for your favorite animal-related movie (let’s avoid Cujo) and cuddle up with Walter and some human & doggie snacks. What’s better than a good movie, fun food, a blanket, and a best friend?
- If you are a baker, try making some homemade doggie biscuits. If you really aren’t a good baker, pick up gourmet treats at a local pet boutique. I am sure that Walter would love some special doggie goodies on this special day.
The bottom line is that you are always spending quality time with your dog. Valentine’s day is no different. Make sure you spend quality time with your dog on Valentine’s Day, the day after Valentine’s Day, and every other day. Valentine’s Day is simply a day that reminds us how we should spend every day with our dog.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.