Let’s be realistic; these goals need to be true to your overall goal. When training we must determine various goals that will grow our relationship, every day behaviors, and strengthen our communication. Our goals are created when we sit down and really breakdown what behaviors we are struggling with and also what we are having success with. Without this breakdown, we can not address our training. So how do we set these goals, or even begin to create them. We have created six best practices when setting a goal for you and your companion.
1. Make a list. Creating a list of what success you have as well as what struggles you are experiencing allows you to see where there may be a fault in your training as well as create your training plan. Every training plan needs to be simple, short, and attainable. For example, I want my dog to be off leash with me. We can’t expect off leash control, without on leash control; we can’t expect on leash control without basic communication; we can’t expect basic communication if we haven’t started with our foundations. Therefore we would start at foundational work as our first goal with the long term goal on being off leash.
2. Keep it simple. Goals can be short term and long term, but either needs to be realistic. There is no quick fix, there is no overnight training. Start with one simple goal such as I want my
dog to sit at the door to get their leash on. Work through this as a team, creating it as a daily routine. It isn’t about setting time aside to accomplish your training goal, but finding the accomplishment in a new learned behavior that you have now created in your daily routine.
3. Take the negative with the positive. Nothing is perfect, right? So don’t get frustrated if a behavior isn’t changed quickly. Reward the positive behavior, make sure you recognize it. Sometimes we see so much negative we forget to praise and reward when our dogs are
successful. Take is slow, be prepared for some set backs and bad days rejoice and enjoy the positive successful days!
4. Start small and build from there. This is plain and simple. Just as we would create small goals for ourselves, we need to do the same for our dogs. Setting them up for success is essential!
5. Celebrate each milestone. We tend to focus so much on the negative behaviors; get off the couch, no barking, no jumping, stop pulling and so on and so on. Right? We all do it, we all get frustrated when a behavior happens over and over. BUT we then ignore when our dog is actually being successful. They sit instead of bark, they walk away instead of jump. In our heads we are saying: Thank God they are finally behaving, as we are silent. A simple good dog, yay you did it is just what they need!
6. Stick to it! Follow through with your goals. As you accomplish one goal, set another!
In every learning atmosphere and here at PAWS, we believe that there should always be a yes and a no. When a no situation happens, don’t let your dogs struggle. Just as we wouldn’t let our kids struggle with a math problem. For example, if your child is doing a math problem 2+2 and continues to get 6, we wouldn’t keep saying it is wrong. Could you imagine your child’s frustration; No it’s wrong, No, No still wrong. We also though would not ignore that it is wrong, correct? We wouldn’t say, oh well it may be wrong, it may be right, who knows. That would be terrible of us! So, tell me what would you do? What we do is let them know they are wrong, guide them to get it right, and reward for success! APPLY THAT to your dog and your goals! So get that note pad and pen out and make your goals list. Writing them makes one more accountable for follow through. Hang it on a wall, a fridge, a mirror! Start small and grow from there.