It’s hard to set goals when you have an anxious dog. Their progress moves in such unpredictable fits and starts, forward and backward, that setting up a timeline will make you crazy. SMART goals don’t work well for us.
Still, somedays their training feels like a hydra–what should I counter condition today? The nail clippers? The sidewalk? The car? Strangers? The doorbell? How about our other training? Silas loves learning new behaviors, but it’s easy to get stuck on just practicing the half dozen tricks he already knows. How do you organize those without the pressure of a dog sport?
Last week, in the hopes of giving myself some kind of structure, I made a list of what I’m calling our “lifetime” goals. When I sit down and make our training plans every month, these are the things that I want to be working toward.
I would like Silas to:
- Walk happily in a variety of environments
- Tolerate strangers, even if he doesn’t ever love them, including inside of our house
- Get adequate physical exercise to stay healthy and prevent injuries
- Get adequate mental exercise to stay excited and engaged
- Have a great recall, so that I don’t live in quite so much terror of accidental equipment failure
- Be comfortable with the amount of physical handling required to live a healthy life
In the great spirit of back-to-school time goals, I’ll pass this along to all of you as a challenge, either to blog about yourselves or just to mull over. What are your “big picture” goals?