Ah, New Years. I like the new year; it’s a great time to really check in as to how things went last year and what you want to do this year. Like everyone, I set goals, including dog-related goals, that are usually hit-or-miss on whether or not I get them done. But here are some things I’ve noticed are helpful in making resolutions that tend to get kept instead of ditched.
Set your goals as “steps,” not final outcomes.
For example if my goal was to get a Parkour title this year, instead of the overwhelming “Get a Parkour Title this year” I could list out the following goals: 1) Train the novice-level Parkour exercises. 2) Find places to film all the exercises. 3) Go out with video camera twice a month and film. Those smaller, “smarter” goals sound way more doable, and once you have done them, you basically have your parkour title!
Don’t try to change every single thing at once.
If your Resolution 2018 is Have a Perfect Dog/Correct All Behavior Problems/Achieve Off-Leash Heeling/Learn All the Dog Sports…that’s probably not gonna happen. Why don’t you pick one or two? Instead of “Correct All Behavior Problems,” maybe start with “Finally get him housebroken.” You get the idea.
Look ahead at the entire year, not just the next couple of months.
Maybe there’s a seminar that you really want to go to in October, or maybe you’ve always wanted to do the Sherwood Obedience Club show in April. If a “big date” is coming up this year, use that date to help you plan the steps you’ll need to take over the months leading up to it. For example if you want to try competing in September, then you can make a mental note to make sure your dog knows everything he’ll need to know by the end of June, then spend July getting out and about and practicing in a variety of locations, and then keep August open for either review or troubleshooting if needed.
If you mess up or slack off, don’t give up – just jump back in right where you were.
If you miss three practices in a row, for example, all is not lost! Don’t beat yourself up over it; just pick up the leash and head out for practice tomorrow. A dog who’s missed three practices in a row and then had ten practices in a row will be better than a dog who misses three practices in a row, and then also the next ten practices because you gave up because you missed three.
Good luck with the fresh start that a new year brings!