Have you ever found yourself struggling with finding time to train your dog, or give up if you do not see the results that you were hoping for? If so, you are not alone. I too sometimes struggle. Here are some tips that I learned along the way to win with the dogs that I train.
How to win with training your dog:
- Have realistic goals for your dog. Remember that training takes time. There are many variables to consider when training a new behavior such as the behavior itself, working around distractions, the amount of time you have to work with your dog, and so on. Enjoy the journey, I get so excited when I see the light bulb moments for the dogs.
- Write your training goals down. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California who has studied the science of goal setting found that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.
- Make measurable goals. This is about being specific and tracking your goals. Instead of saying ‘I want a better behaved dog’ say ‘I would like to teach my dog to heel’ or ‘I would like to get my dogs Canine Good Citizen certification’. Give yourself a time frame and track your progress. For example, if your goal is to train your dog to heel, your time frame may look something like this:
- January 7th- Have a consultation with a trainer to teach me how to train my dog to heel.
- January 28th- Dog is walking on a loose leash in my neighborhood.
- February 25th- Dog is walking on a loose leash with more distractions at the park and beach.
- March 28th- Dog is heeling for 10 minutes at the park with distractions.
- April 1st- Dog is heeling on all our walks at various locations and around numerous distractions. GOAL IS COMPLETE!
- Designate a specific training location that you keep all your training supplies. Having a location makes your setup seamless. The location itself can trigger you to remember to train.
- Tack on a training session to things you already do with your dog. Here are some examples:
- I always train our Board and Train dogs before their breakfast and/or dinner.
- I often work on ‘go settle’ when I’m making food in the kitchen.
- Another great time to train is before your walks.
- Short successful training sessions are the way to go! Quite while your dog is doing well instead of pushing them to go even further. Quitting while your ahead will motivate and excite both you and your dog for the next training session.
- Hold yourself accountable. Tell everyone you know what you are working on with your dog. Have a friend commit to the same course of action so you can work with each other. Enroll in a class. Knowing that you have a paid, once a week commitment with others is a great motivator.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you miss a week of training or exercise, who cares! Take a look at your schedule and get back to the fun.
- Reward yourself. Plan ways to celebrate your success. As we teach in training, behavior that are rewarded will increase. Upon completion of a goal, celebrate! Go out to dinner and bring home some leftovers to your dog. Go to the beach or hike an extra day that week.
Try implementing some or all of these tips. Let’s conquer 2021 together! Know that I am always here to help. My reward is seeing your dog succeed!