As we approach the end of 2020 many of us will be reflecting on the year behind us (or let’s face it, just trying to forget it!) or thinking of our plans for the year to come. I don’t know about you but 2020 sort of railroaded my dog training plans and goals – there just never seemed to be the time to work on all new training with everything else that was going on. I’ve felt pretty guilty that we haven’t done more this year and slightly annoyed with myself that I haven’t done more with Diggory.
When we welcome a dog into our home we have all sorts of expectations and plans of what we will do together. We know that it will take time, effort and training to have the relationship we dream of but so often life gets in the way – we tell ourselves that it will have to wait until tomorrow but when tomorrow comes along something else prevents us and eventually we just accept the status quo because changing it seems too difficult.
I promise that change is possible and here’s how.
1 – Don’t beat yourself up for what’s in the past; you can’t change what you did yesterday but you can control what you choose to do tomorrow.
2 – Be realistic. Now is the time to be really honest with yourself. I am the first to admit that sometimes my expectations of either myself or my dogs is too high and that only leads to stress. For example, if you have a new puppy they may not physically be capable of meeting your expectations of being toilet trained by the time they are 12 weeks or in my case it will probably take longer for Diggory to pass his Kennel Club Good citizen assessments.
3 – Prioritise. Write down what it is you would like to work on. Maybe you want to improve your recall, get perfect loose lead walking or teach your dog to tidy up their toys, but what is most important to you? Once you work out which of your training goals is the most important, that’s the one to work on first.
4 – Have a plan. You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you think clearly about how you are going to get there. Nobody goes from a couch potato to a marathon runner without working on all the steps in between and our dog training needs to reflect this too. Think about where you are now and where you want to be, break down the progress you need to make into little steps. Start easy so that you and your dog succeed and then gradually increase the difficulty.
5 – Make time. You might think that you need a lot of time to end up with a perfectly trained pooch, but the truth is that you can achieve fabulous results after quite short bursts. My favourite is cup of tea training. In those few minutes that you are waiting for the kettle to boil grab some treats and train your dog. Of course, it’s great if you can spend slightly longer chunks of time training but little and often nearly always yields the best results.
6 – If it’s not working, change it up. There are always multiple positive, reward-based methods to train a particular thing and different ones will work for different human-canine teams. If your chosen method isn’t working don’t be afraid to try something else. Don’t forget that our online training community is there for help, advice and support.
If you need help with New Year Resolutions then give us a shout. Let’s use this opportunity of the new year to make those changes we need to make life with our dog even better; let’s make 2021 count and be our best training year yet.