Battersea Q&A: New Year's resolutions for your dog

(Q) Although they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks I'd like to make some New Year resolutions regarding my dog Marcel. If I tell you my aims, will you let me know if I'm on the right track?

(1) I want to improve his recall, should I use rewards?

(A) Reward-based training is the best way for you to encourage Marcel to come back to you, and regular practice will really sharpen up his recall.

(2) If I give Marcel leftovers, should I take it out of his daily food allowance?

(A) It's natural for you to want to give your dog something special as a treat once in a while - and that's fine - as long as you give a little less of his usual meal that day.

(3) I will get Marcel microchipped.

(A) All dogs should be microchipped. Ninety-five per cent of the dogs Battersea Dogs & Cats Home take in each year are not, which means it's difficult to reunite them with their owners.

(4) When we go for a walk, I'll vary our destinations and not go to the same park every day. I don't want Marcel to get bored!

(A) Going to different places or even using a new route on regular walks is good for your dog - and you! New smells, sights, sounds, and terrain will keep him stimulated, and more easily able to accept new experiences and situations.

(5) I want to train Marcel to sit quietly in his bed when we receive visitors, and wait to be introduced - instead of jumping up and barking.

(A) As well as being nice for your friends, training your dog to wait before saying hello calmly will benefit him. Some dogs find visitors stressful, so providing a bed in a quiet corner, or a crate, will give him.

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