Any good dog trainer will tell you that if you want results, you have to put in the work. That doesn't always sound easy with the busy lives most of us have. But it is possible with these 5 steps.
1. Set Realistic Goals
It's normal to have an end goal of that picture perfect moment with your pet. But you won't get there overnight. Set smaller goals that make forward progress. Bumps in the road where training fails can also become mini goals. Conquering the rough spots can lead to a shorter and easier progress down the line. If your goal is to sit outside at the restaurant with your dog, break that goal down into the handling skills, manners, and environmental needed for that goal to be reached. Once all the elements are mastered then work on duration. Remember that struggles are usually a fluency, stamina, or stress problem. There is nothing wrong with tweaking steps and goals are you go along.
2. Routine Integration
Once you know where you want to end up and what steps it will take to get there, you have to find the time. This isn't as hard as it seems, even for those with busy schedules. The easiest methods to getting training done is to integrate it into a routine you already have. This will mean making you routines slightly longer but it will insure you have the time.
Add training to other tasks, especially of the training pertains to a specific location. For instance if you want to work on kitchen manners, schedule training for right before meal preparation. If you want to train door manners, schedule training for when you go get the mail, your kids come home from school, or garbage night.
If you need to take training on the road, try sneaking in a training session while your child is at a sport or after an errand like stopping at the bank.
3. Have your tools ready
It's harder to get training done when you have to gather up all your supplies. Instead set up for your next session during your present session. This means refilling your rewards when you're done, as well is putting your leash, collar and other other equipment where you can grab it and go when you're ready to start your next session. I leave my gear at the door or in the car and my treat pouch is always loaded in the refrigerator.
4. Reward yourself
Make sure to have rewards for yourself, not just your dog. If you have been working on greeting strangers, perhaps it's time to go grab some ice cream at your local ice cream window. If you have been working on settling calmly, maybe a picnic is in order. Practicing silence? Go grab some popcorn and enjoy a movie together. Celebrate how far you've come. Never take progress for granted.
5. Report your progress
Let your trainer know how you are progressing. They love to hear good news and if you're struggling they want to help you succeed. Many trainers love to watch videos or receive photos of your training. Feedback in important and will create additional motivation to continue training.
You goals are obtainable when you make training a priority. Remember that struggles are just reminders of what needs to be worked on. With effort any goal can become a reality.
Molly coaches many of her clients and even other professionals on goal setting and time management. Contact us if you'd like assistance on this topic.