New Year, New Habit

IMG_1530This is the time of year we set goals & resolutions to improve our lives. Have you set your dog training goals? Think of how much more pleasant daily life may be if Fido didn’t beg at the table; pull on leash; or some other annoying behavior he may have. Why not commit to making life easier and having more fun with your dog! If you haven’t set a dog training goal yet, now is the time! And if you did but ‘failed’ —well, try again! According to University of Scranton studies 25% of us have already abandoned our goals we made just weeks ago. Here are some tips for success:

Prioritize

The truth is we can’t train everything. Busy schedules simply don’t allow it. So prioritize! What is really important to you? Not sure? What do you complain about most? Start there. Pick one “biggy” and one or two fun things you would like to train. I like to pick a couple of fun things like a trick or obedience cue that may even be complimentary to my ‘big’ goal. We ALL need to have some fun! And having one or two ‘small’ goals can help keep you feeling accomplished, fresh and motivated.

Plan

So now that you’ve picked you must “plan your work” in order to “work your plan.” Advice I received on my first foray into my human resources career that is applicable every where in life! A plan– yes even in dog training!—is so very essential! One does not decide to take a cross country road trip without planning a route. We have wedding planners—not ‘hire me and I’ll wing your wedding’ people. Same goes for your financial planner, personal trainer, vacations and more. If we want to achieve success in anything we must have a plan. It needn’t be a very fancy or even very formal plan. Sometimes thinking too large prevents us from ever take the first step. Rough drafts are quite all right! Just get started. WRITE your plan down. Again, this isn’t a thesis. Just a simple outline will do. Most of us would not even remember the steps in our plan if we didn’t. Research has proven that those who commit goals to writing are far more successful than those who do not. Not sure how to plan it? This is why you hire a dog trainer who can help you develop and follow your plan. Some things to keep in mind when writing your plan:

Keep it simple

Have a CLEARLY defined goal. Fido will no longer jump on the table while we eat. Nope. Too vague. WHAT do you want Fido to do instead? Fido lies on his mat in front of the frig while we eat dinner is much better. Break it down! Into TINY, measurable pieces. How are you going to get Fido to his mat that may be 15’ feet from the table? Maybe just inches at a time! Work on distance on sending him to the mat. Work on duration. Work while you are NOT eating but sitting near the table. Work each criteria gradually and incrementally.

Celebrate!

When you reach one of the above tiny goals, throw a party! Really. You both deserve it and it will keep you motivated.

Do!

Now comes “working your plan.” Training should be a joy not a drudgery. Keep it simple as explained above. Keep it short. Two or three minute sessions 2—5x a day is great! Building better behavior is not unlike building muscle. Consistent, successful repetitions are key. And you can certainly take “rest” days! Are you struggling with a tiny step? Don’t beat yourself up, take step or two back and succeed there (celebrate!) before moving forward. We are brimming with hope & aspirations are high this time of year. Keep the momentum going—one tiny step at a time!All the best in achieving your goals! And remember: A goal without a plan is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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