Something Wagging Train Your Dog Month Challenge

Golden Retriever plays fetch

I'd like to learn how to fetch. It's much more fun than riding in some old cart.

It’s January. Which means you’re probably tired, stressed, and broke. And, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, cold.

It’s also National Train Your Dog Month, sponsored by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

Put it all together and you’ve got the Something Wagging Train Your Dog Month Challenge.

Can a month-long dog training challenge be low stress and fun?

Yes, yes it can. If I’m wrong, than Nothing Wagging This Way Comes.

What is the challenge?

Choose one activity or behavior to work on with your dog that will strengthen your relationship in some way.

Are there rules?

Of course. How else could I satisfy my power-hungry urges to boss people around?

  • Choose one activity or behavior to teach your dog.
  • Whatever you choose should benefit your relationship in some way. Interpret that as liberally as you’d like.
  • Fit the training into your regular life schedule.
  • Between January 31 and February 7, report on your experience by writing a blog post which will include a linky to all the other participants. The post should tell why you felt the activity would strengthen your bond and if it did.
  • Don’t blog? Then post on Something Wagging’s Facebook page or send a paragraph by email to be published on Something Wagging This Way Comes.
  • You don’t have to tweet or post on Facebook about the Challenge but it would be nice.
  • Leave a comment below if you plan to take part. I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make a badge and if you comment, I’ll follow up if I get one.

Are there prizes?

On February 8, at 9:00 a.m. EST, I will choose one of the participants at random and make a $50 donation to the animal welfare cause of their choice.

Mixed breed dog in bicycle cart

Shadow wasn't crazy about the cart either. But it was just because she wanted to run; not because she was scared.

What are you doing for the challenge, Pam?

Although I know I won’t accomplish this in one month, my activity is to work toward getting Honey more comfortable with our Doggy Ride bicycle cart.

Now that we no longer have a car, Honey’s fear of the bicycle cart prevents us from doing more things together. Trips to the dog park? Hikes at the State Parks? Days at the Beach? They’re all dependent on finding a new form of transportation.

I don’t think January is too soon to start if we want to hit the parks in June.

Oh, and Amy, the Doggy Ride does include seat belts.

Any last suggestions or inspirations?

The APDT is offering webinars and Facebook chats by trainers the entire month of January. Check them out for some professional tips.

As for amateur tips:

  • Don’t sweat the challenge too much.
  • Build it into your life.
  • You don’t get more points for being perfect or completing your goal. Just do your best.
  • Use it as a chance to think about what would improve your relationship—being able to walk better on leash, finding a new game to play together, having better manners when guests visit.
  • If you’re working with a foster dog, consider an activity that will bond your animal to his next person.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

And I wasn’t kidding that I’d like this to be fun and guilt-free.


Put it in your comment or send me an email.

Have fun with your dog. Don’t stress. Come back and share. Maybe win a donation. That is all.

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  1. Oops…looks like I ended up in your spam. That has been happening to me lately. If you could kindly rescue us and mark us as not spam I can post with my preferred profile. Thanks. Here is my original message again.

    Good for you for going car-less. We got a DoggieRide last fall and took a couple of trips. Chester and Gretel did ok but it is clear that I need to work on getting them more comfortable this spring. It’s way too wet and cold right now :) I hope to help get them used to it by taking several shorter trips – using the trailer to “drive” to places close to my house instead of using the car. I will be very interested how your progress has been in a month.

    • Sorry about the spam trap. Hopefully it’s fixed and you won’t end up there again.

      I’d love to hear more about your Doggy Ride adventures. Based on my online video searches, small dogs seem to do better with bike trailers than large ones. Perhaps its because at least some of them are carried in cases and get used to the jostling.

      Gretel and Chester are such active pups I could see them getting a little squirrelly in a trailer. :)

  2. Words to live by: “Have fun with your dog. Don’t stress.” Love, love, love it! :)

  3. This is a great challenge, Pamela! I wish I could participate right now. :-) Thanks for all of your encouragement and advice on Doggerel! I really appreciate it and I’ve learned so much already from your blog.

    • It’s been so fun joining you on the journey. You realize that all of us who follow you are expecting to be named dog-parents for your new addition when he/she arrives. :)

  4. My new habit for January is exercise – in the form of walking a dog each day. Most often Justus; yesterday walked Hickory Dock, a senior TWC who completely enjoyed himself. Today I plan to walk Layla, a rather fluffy Beagle. Distance and time doesn’t matter – I’m counting on both to improve as the month goes on. So that’s my “training.” Plan to walk the bike trails and out in the country as much as possible. Have my Carhatts out (found a petite set several years ago – miracle) and am ready to channel my MN soul. Will check out the ABPT site. Thanks for the encouragement – I don’t know how to make a badge either :).

    • I’ve really been enjoying reading about your walks so far. Hounds know how to get more out of a walk any dog out there. :)

      BTW, my husband figured out how to create a badge for the challenge. If you’d like to post it on your blog, you’ll find it in the sidebar at Something Wagging.

  5. What to choose, what to choose? We have so many things we need to work on, especially if I still hope to start trialing this year. I have lots of goals for the two of us so perhaps I will just keep plodding ahead and see what we come up with together. Some of Shiva’s best tricks were thought up on the fly, after all.

    Thanks for putting this together! I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. Good luck on your own training as well! Once Honey realizes riding in the car takes her to fun places, I am sure her fears will slowly dissipate.

    • Your first video about the process was hilarious. I can’t wait to see what’s waiting for us at the end.

      Pick up the badge in the sidebar and maybe we’ll get a few more suckers, I mean, dog lovers to join in. :)

  6. Wow! What a great challenge. I think the thing that I want to work on this month is door behavior. We’ve gotten to the point where, when the doorbell rings, we have to shout, “just a minute,” through the door as they’re jumping up, barking, and whining, then usher all 3 outside or into another room just to get the front door open! Ack, so embarrassing! And not good for us or our guests. I think it would totally help our relationship because… we’d be way less annoyed with them every time someone comes by the house!

    • That’s just the kind of thing I was thinking of when I thought up this challenge. It’s those life skills that can make or break your relationship.

      Most of my life I’d had barking protective dogs. Now, with a Golden Retriever, I’m facing a new kind of greeting disorder: excessive friendliness.

      It’s an ongoing challenge for us too. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

      Hope you’ll pick up our new badge for the challenge in the sidebar.

  7. Sounds fun – and Saydee can benefit from any training (and Cali will happily show her how it is supposed to be done!) BTW – if you want some help designing a badge – I’d love to do it for you as my little contribution to a very worthy endeavor :)

    • Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

      BTW, sorry I’m so late in thanking you for offering help creating a badge. I was hoping to learn a new skill so my husband put something together and I just bossed him around a little. :) But I really appreciate your generosity. I’m sure your badge would be prettier and done in less time. But there’s no substitute for sweat equity. :)

      If you’re not embarrassed, pick up the badge from our sidebar.

  8. I’m really wanting to get back in the habit of walking every day, particularly with Bunny. There are a few things I’d like to work with her on that would help with photography, but I think she’d prefer the walking goal! We’re taking part in the Idita-Walk this year, so we might as well start getting ready for it in January. We’ve hiked the first two days of the year, so I think we’re on the right track!

    • Could you combine your walking goal with photography by mounting a camera to your body? :)

      Walking every day is a great goal. It will be good for you and for Bunny.

      We have a new badge for the challenge in the sidebar. Feel free to capture it if you’d like.

  9. I’m going to have to ruminate on this one:) You’ve come up with a great idea though and even if I can’t participate I will enjoy reading about what everyone else comes up with. Good luck with Honey and her cart. Beryl probably wouldn’t be keen to begin with either. I can imagine Frankie jumping in and telling me to floor it so we can find out how fast it goes (or I can pedal!):)

  10. Pam – bring the cart inside and start working with Honey. Just like crate training…good treats for going inside of it. (Maybe even using nosework to get her in it??) Then good treats for moving it a little. Then a little more. Then getting in it outside. You know the progressions…

    • Yes, I know the progress. But I don’t know how to be patient. I think I move forward too quickly once I see progress. Must. Slow. Down.

      Nose work is a great suggestion. It focuses her mind so much she doesn’t even notice things that normally frighten her. I’m definitely building that into our practice.

  11. Hmmm… I’m going to have to ponder. Now that the holidays are over, perhaps my brain can actually work again. :)

  12. Oh, this is a great idea!

    I’d like to teach Elka how to close a door. I’d also like to teach her the every so cute “say your prayers”. We’ll see if I make headway on both, or either!

    • I’d teach her to pray first. Then she can ask God to help her learn how to close the door quickly. :)

      Can’t wait to read all about your progress.

      We have a new badge for the challenge up. You can grab it from the sidebar if you’re interested.

  13. oh-oh, i’m stressing because i can;t think of what i might want/need to teach G this month. not that she’s a know-it-all and perfect. in fact, i’ve been trying to get her to leave food and come to me when i call for at least the whole month of december. it’s gone nowhere and only works at home, not at the park where it matters most :(

    so….i’m going to pass on this one. please don;t hate me x

    • Well, apparently you got her to ignore palm nuts. All it took was some vomiting and diarrhea. :)

      No hate here. I’m happy to have your company in whatever way you wish to provide it. :)

  14. Interesting Pamela! I’ll have to think about that one, but I think I might be interested. Thanks for such a great idea.

    BTW I like Beth idea about bringing in the cart and working from there. Sounds like a good idea. :)

    • Sounds from your recent post like you’re taking advantage of January to work on sledding.

      If you want to participate, you can now grab a badge for the challenge from our sidebar. Our very first. :)

  15. I love this challenge and I’m really excited about it. (Plus, I love blog fodder. I can post aboout this for DAYS!) After reading through your nose work tutorials, I’ve decided Kolchak and I will be tackling some nose work training and fun. That boy has a nose like nobody’s business. Once, he made me pull the sideboard in the kitchen away from the wall at 3 am because *a single piece of kibble* had fallen behind it and the scent was driving him psycho. Yeah. He’s hardcore.

    Felix isn’t a natural for training. He can do the basic “sit” and “down” and he i slowly becoming reliable with “come”, but beyond that? He’s totally disinterested. He just looks at me like “oh yeah? You think I’m going to do THAT for a measly piece of filet mignon or finely aged cheese? Yeah right, lady.’ I’m going to (try) training him to “play dead” in the hopes that the abundance of treats and frequent, enthusiastic belly rubs might garner his interest. Maybe if he likes learning that, I can bridge that interest into learning some more practical skills.

    PS – if you need badge help, I am happy to assist :0)

    • Saw you recently said something about Kolchak’s “enthusiastic” treatment of the boxes in the Nose Work. You want to make sure the boxes are open and accessible. And as soon as he finds the scent, you can immediately make it available to him.

      That said, his enthusiasm is fabulous! You just might need some donated boxes from neighbors and friends.

      BTW, thanks for offering help with a badge. I decided it would be a good skill for my husband to learn. And it kept him out of trouble for hours. :)

      You can pick up your challenge badge in the sidebar.

      • BOL, it was recycling day in our neighborhood and I wandered around stealing everyone’s boxes. I felt like a bag lady.

        I love how excited Kol is, but I do hope the “bull in a china shop” mentality wears off!

  16. Sounds like fun! Malarky and I just finished up a class before Christmas and have to get some behaviors more reliable so we’ll be working on them with the clicker.

    • That’s great that you have a recent class under your belt. It gives you something good to build on. Can’t wait to see how your month goes.

  17. Love this challenge. I want to work on a whistle recall with my guys so I will do that. Won’t be complete by the end of the month but should have made progress. Thanks for the prompt!

    • My challenge with Honey will certainly not be done by the end of the month. But it’s great to dedicate the first 30 days of the year to building a new skill.

      Look forward to learning about your progress by the end of the month.

      If you’d like, we now have a badge for the challenge to pick up in the sidebar.

  18. I NEED the dog to stop barking like an insane beast when the doorbell rings (or the tenant upstairs comes home). I’ve been meaning to work on this for AGES.

    Well, I shall consider it, but no promises!

    • Ah yes, those long ago Shepherd days. I remember the frustration of barking at visitors. Not me barking, the dogs.

      No barking from Honey but her lovies are nearly as overwhelming as the loudest woof. :)

      Training good door manners works best when you have lots of compliant friends to help you out by coming to the door over and over while you’re working. Think your neighbors would be interested in bringing a loaf of bread by? :)

  19. Great idea! I’m doing this not only in January but one new thing each month all year long. Thanks for helping to inspire and motivate me! For January, we are working on “Back up” but I need help coming up with other behaviors/commands/tricks so I’d love any input you may have.

    • Impressive that you’re doing something every month. At the end of the year you’ll be perfect, right? :)

      I’ve been working with Honey to send her running away from me–not backing up per se. I once read that sending a dog away from you is one of the hardest things to teach. I’m just trying to get her to go downstairs to poop without me escorting her in my robe and slippies. :)

  20. *hides blog post before Jen sees it*

  21. This should tell you my state of affairs right now – I THOUGHT I commented on this already. Ack!

    We’re in. Bella’s already in agility class so I don’t know if the training we’re doing there counts or not but we’re also teaching her several other ‘tricks’ (like high-five and an extended, moving ‘peek-a-boo’) as well as how to file her own nails…

    Maybe we’ll focus on the tunnel/chute since that’s a real hard one for Bella the scared-y dog.

    I love that you’re doing this. We all need a reminder that the bond with our dog is strengthened just by interacting positively with them. :)

    • Well, I’ll keep checking in my spam filter. It doesn’t usually catch real emails but Jessica got trapped.

      Sounds like you have lots of fun things going on with Bella. I hope you’re write more about it.

      • Oh no no no, don’t worry about your spam filter, I’m sure it’s working fine. It’s my mind that’s leaving a little to be desired these days. 😉

        Will definitely post about our ‘challenge’ – it’s a great idea.

  22. I’ve been meaning to get over here since yesterday. So sorry Pamela. I’m in!
    I’ve already been working on a couple of things – making Jasper and Lady’s regular brushing sessions less stressful and new tricks. But, the one thing I really want to work on is getting both dogs to go to their beds or a mat when someone comes to the door. Now I just have to find someone to come to my door and help me! I can’t wait to see what develops over the next month!

    • Having a good posse of friends and neighbors to practice training with is so important. May I suggest delivering a plate of brownies to whomever you approach?:)

      All of your goals sound excellent. I can’t wait to see how it all goes.

      BTW, we’ve created a badge (our first) and you can pick it up in our sidebar. See, our dogs are the only ones learning new things. :)

  23. Actually I’ve changed my mind. Whistle recall might have to wait until next month! After a particularly stressful walk I am going to work through the Relaxation Protocol with both dogs. Maybe will start on whistle recall as well…

  24. Okay! We’re up for a challenge. The one I think I’ll work on is not attacking the mailman when he comes to the door. Thanks for putting this together, it will be fun!

    • Doesn’t your mail carrier keep treats in his pocket? Shame on him.

      Can’t wait to see what you can accomplish in a month. Or maybe we should ask the mailman? :)

      We have a new challenge badge in our sidebar. Feel free to grab it.

  25. Well I guess for us the training will be puppy potty training…lol.

    • Actually, that’s mostly about training the humans. The hard part is remembering to pick up the puppy, no matter what, and take him out every time he’s likely to have to go. :)

      So I guess we’re a short time away from reading a bunch of poop posts. :) Or maybe Thunder and Storm will be good teachers for the new puppy.

  26. This is great! I knew it was Train Your Dog month, but I love the added challenge! Skye and I are currently practicing a fun trick, but I think for this I’ll add a real challenge for us. Parker and Skye have trouble controlling themselves when it comes to off leash greetings. They’ll rush ahead and generally overwhelm an approaching dog right off the bat. Our off leash obedience could use some work in general, but I think this will be our big challenge!

    • If you know the secret to teaching a dog how to approach another dog more circumspectly, I want to know it. I think Honey is getting better at not overwhelming other dogs with her greetings but I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done. I think she was taught by other dogs.

      Look forward to reading all your secrets.

      And we just finished a challenge badge. Feel free to pick it up in our sidebar if you’re interested.

  27. Great idea, Pamela! We’re working on a few things this month – increased exercise for both dogs, practice being around other dogs on leash, and Buster is getting a bit of off-leash time every day at the off-leash park. I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone does with their dogs!

    I was also thinking, I see a lot of dog running along side as people ride their bikes. Might it be better to train Honey to do that since she doesn’t seem to be fond of the bike cart?

    • Can’t wait to see what you accomplish with Buster and Ty in January. I’m sure we’ll get to see lots of wonderful pictures, right?

      Running beside the bike wouldn’t work for the 8 mile trip to the lake. But you have give me a good idea. I bet Honey would like to trot beside the bike if we can find a suitable place.


  1. […] did it for me! All of the fun and none of the work! Woo hoo! If you haven’t checked out her training challenge, I encourage you to do so. Don’t worry if you have been as lazy as I am the last few months, […]

  2. […] is National Train Your Dog Month so Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes put together a Train Your Dog Challenge. I decided I would join in with my bird, Eco. Yes, you heard right, my bird.  Pamela opened up the […]

  3. […] to clients, but I have to confess I have not done it systematically with these two. So that is our Something Wagging Train Your Dog Month Challenge: get through our first two cycles of the Relaxation Protocol. We are a few days in to the first […]

  4. […] when she did it, I decided to walk with her and see if I can teach her WALK  so I can complete Pamela at Something Wagging’s challenge to train your dog […]

  5. […] we can’t really do anything about. I’ve noticed it more than ever while practicing for Something Wagging’s Train Your Dog Month Challenge. (If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late to join […]

  6. […] reason I signed us up is that we’re participating in Miss Pamela’s challenge on Something Wagging This Way Comes.  Mom’s plan for the challenge is to get better about regular walking with me this winter. […]

  7. […] week I took a video of Saydee for the Something Wagging Train Your Dog Challenge but never got a chance to publish it (I will, I promise!)  Instead, I finished two websites […]

  8. […] 7, 2012 Mel Leave a comment Go to comments I had a lofty goal when I joined Pamela’s Train Your Dog Challenge last month. My goal was to get both of my more excitable pups (Jasper and Lady) to remain seated on […]

  9. […] last one is a video of my parrot, Eco doing the trick we have been working on for the Something Wagging Train Your Dog Month Challenge. The challenge ended last month so we are way late on this, but at least we had fun doing […]