HOW TO REACH YOUR DOG TRAINING GOALS
There’s no better time than the present to get started training your dog. With the new year around the corner, it’s a great opportunity to make a resolution and build out your plan of action. Whether you’ve been wanting to join a sport with your loyal companion or reduce their nuisance barking, it starts with setting your dog training goals, establishing a regime, then persevering through any challenges that arise. There are plenty of great resources out there, including professional dog training services, informative books, and even free online dog training articles. It all comes down to the nature of your goal and preferred learning method for both yourself and your dog.
STEP 1: GOAL SETTING
Having a clear vision in mind is essential for reaching your dog training goals. Set up your dog for success by carefully considering your objectives and what they mean for your daily life. If you want to teach your new puppy a basic command, such as “heel,” think about the different scenarios that apply. Ensuring your dog heels both on and off leash, as well as in crowded or loud environments, will allow you greater control, comfort, and trust. Start slowly, then gradually introduce increasingly distracting stimuli over the course of time to achieve your desired result. Similarly, if you want to compete in an activity such as protection dog sports, establish a clear goal such as completing the entry level certificate by a specific date. After all, in order to keep your eyes on the prize, you need a strong understanding of how you will define your goals.
STEP 2: DISCIPLINE + MOTIVATION
While motivation gets you going, discipline gets you there. We all get caught up setting new year’s resolutions, but it’s only the most disciplined that truly commit to their goals and reach them. It’s not always easy to wake up early to fit in one-on-one time with your dog, nor is it convenient to attend classes or club meetings on weekends and after work. It is, however, intrinsically rewarding to watch yourself and your dog work as a team to make progress. Setting a clear schedule will help keep you on track, and strategic rewards can help to measure and solidify your progress.
STEP 3: CONSISTENCY + SCHEDULING
Reaching your dog training goals requires consistency, which is why we recommend building out a schedule. Working with a professional dog trainer ensures you plan a schedule and dedicate sufficient time to training, but it can be more difficult to stick to self-guided activities such as reading books, watching videos, and completing at-home training exercises. We suggest grabbing your calendar and marking down the times when you will work toward your goal with your dog. You can further keep yourself accountable by keeping a paper calendar, rather than a virtual one, in a highly visible area in your home. Each time you complete a scheduled activity, check it off. As time goes on, you’ll be able to see how consistent you’ve been with your efforts and adjust accordingly.
STEP 4: REWARDS + REFLECTION
Sometimes the best rewards are the most simple. If you’re tracking your progress on a calendar, there’s intrinsic satisfaction linked to checking off a task and looking back on how far you’ve come. You can also consider planning extrinsic rewards for yourself and your dog – it’s a great excuse to fit in some quality bonding time. If you’ve been wanting to venture on a new hike with your dog, commit yourself to the activity after making progress toward your goal. Both yourself and your dog will benefit from bonding time, which is great for your dog’s physical and mental well-being. Reveling in the sense of teamwork you share with your furry friend fosters a healthy, trusting relationship that will give you a further boost toward your objectives.
WHERE WILL YOU BE IN ONE YEAR?
Setting a goal and working toward it can be a challenging feat, but you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction when you look back at how far yourself and your dog have come. Reflecting on your hard work is an important part of the process, so don’t forget to appreciate the progress you’ve made. No matter if you’re teaching your dog a new trick, advancing in a sport, or participating in a competition, there are plenty of benefits. Now all you need to do is establish your goal, create a schedule, and stay committed to reaching it through regular rewards and reflection. We’d love to know what you’re working toward over the next year, so share your thoughts in the comments or reach out to our team directly! As always, we’re here to help offer support however we can, so feel free to ask questions or work with us to create a custom training schedule to reach your dog training goals.
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