A few days ago I was at a Home Dog Training session in Dahlonega with a new client and her 10 month old Collie named Alfred. Alfred was a little crazy when I first got there. He wasn’t listening and loved to steal anything that was on the floor or low enough for him to jump and retrieve. He was my client’s first dog and she didn’t know what to do. I was able to quickly educate her on the proper techniques of being Alfred’s teacher, boss, and best friend. It didn’t take long to have Alfred obeying my client and giving her the proper focus when needed. She was excited with the results and looked forward to use what she had learned to help Alfred be a good companion and member of the family. As we were finishing up, she had another question. Her boyfriend was going to be up in Virginia on business on Valentine’s Day and she thought it would be fun to have Alfred be her Valentine. She never had “a dog as a Valentine”, so she wondered what she could do to make the day special while maintaining the training we just completed.
I explained that Alfred really doesn’t understand about Valentine’s Day. He just sees it as “another day”. On the other hand, she understood that Valentine’s Day was a special day built around the celebration and reassurance of positive relationships. With this is mind, I suggested that Valentines Day should be a day where she focuses on her relationship and bonding with Alfred. She should spend the day with him while engaging in actions that show mutual respect and safety. She should reassure Alfred that she will always be there, keeping him safe and secure. There is no better gift she could give to him. I had some suggestions.
- Being in Dahlonega, I first suggested “The Mayberry Experience”. This begins (as in the opening scene of “The Andy Griffith Show“) with a walk to the lake. In this case, she should take Alfred to Lake Zwerner and have a nice stroll around the lake on the perimeter trail. Just like Andy always did, bring a picnic; in this case, doggie treats. Stop every once in a while to let him roam off trail, call him back, and give him a treat while telling him what a good dog he is. (I always suggest having him on a long leash for safety reasons.) Continue the walk and then drive into Dahlonega. Now it is time for the “sit a spell in the town square” Mayberry experience. Find a nice chair outside the barber shop or sandwich shop. She can sit and talk with him as people calmly pass by. Alfred can see that all is fine and my client is keeping him safe. Finally they can take a walk up to the park and throw the ball for a while.
- If “The Mayberry Experience” is a little too much, I suggested taking Alfred for a nice, long walk. I suggested that she take him on quiet streets and give him plenty of time to sniff and just check things out. If they get to a park, throw the ball.
- Grooming is a sign of respect and a natural bonding activity done between dogs. She could spend some time brushing Alfred. She could give him a warm bath and a brisk rub with warm towels.
- We all love toys and Alfred is probably no exception. Nothing says “Be My Valentine” like a pink or red heart-shaped chew toy. I told her to make sure that whatever she gets should be safe for Alfred. She should pick one that will last so that it will bring him hours and hours of fun and enjoyment long into the future
- If Alfred isn’t into the athletic stuff at the moment, maybe some shopping is what is in order! My client can take him to Petco, Petsmart, Hollywood Feed, or any other dog store. She could get him some warm clothing for our Northern Georgia winter. Dogs always love dog beds. How about getting a new fluffy place where he can lie his weary head after a game of catch or at the end of a long day? Although dogs don’t “need fluffy dog beds”, they definitely like them and love to sleep in them.
- I suggested that she have a portrait made of her and Alfred. The time she and Alfred spend together while it is being taken will be a great bonding time. Having this as a memento and reminder of a special time will bring joy long into the future.
- She and Alfred can always “stay in” and enjoy a dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day. She can pick her favorite animal-related movie (let’s avoid Cujo; I love Up.), and cozy up with Alfred and some human & doggie snacks. What’s better than a good movie, fun food, a blanket and a best friend?
- Although this isn’t the “most romantic dog thing”, I suggested that she could make sure that she has taken care of Alfred’s vet visit. This makes sure that Alfred is “good to go” for another year..
- My client mentioned that she loved to bake. I suggested that she could cook some homemade dog biscuits. If she didn’t have the time, she could pick up gourmet treats at a local pet boutique. I am sure that Alfred would love some special doggie goodies on this special day.
It doesn’t really matter how she spoils Alfred on this Valentine’s Day. The important thing is that she and Alfred have a lot of fun. Whether they go for something simple or extravagant, she should make it a safe and enjoyable holiday for both of them.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over sixteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.