Lifetime Goals


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?

2 thoughts on “Lifetime Goals

  1. Have you thought about training for and achieving some titles with organizations that will let you work from home?
    Rally obedience is one, if you have the room to set up a course:
    You can also get a trick title and work towards more advanced titles:
    Even if you will never compete in flyball or agility, it might be fun for both of you to practice some of the skills that are involved. Training a flyball box turn is intricate and fun, if you enjoy training and have a dog who enjoys working.

    Just some ideas on how to work some fun stuff in that isn’t so heavy on the counter-conditioning and such. Might help give you ideas on tricks and skills to teach Silas, and even give you guys some goals to work on together, like getting a Rally-O title.


  2. I like the idea of lifetime goals. Mine for Honey revolve around making her comfortable with life on a boat.

    I’m not motivated by tricks and such. But seeing her gain confidence as a result of the tricks training is very encouraging.

    The other good reason to write goals down is so you can see your progress. It can be hard to see how far we’ve come if you don’t have a record of where we’ve started.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s