Can you believe we’ve officially bid adieu to another year? Time flies when you’re having a fetchin’ good time, doesn’t it? Well, at Little Angels Dog Training, my Furkids are wagging they tails in excitement as we welcome the New Year with open paws and a whole lot of woofs!
First off, a massive shoutout to all of your fantastic Furkids for making 2023 a doggy delight. You and your furiends have been the stars of the Little Angels Dog Training show, and I’m ready to embark on another year of adventures, tail wiggles, and, of course, a sprinkle of positive vibes.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got my New Year’s resolutions all lined up. And guess what? Most of them are not for me! Yep, you heard it right – I’ve jumped on the canine resolution bandwagon and set my dog training goals for 2024. So, grab your treats and squeaky toys, and let’s talk about why setting training goals for you and your dog is the pawfect way to kick off 2024.
I start off with a few goals I’d like to achieve with each of my Furkids with a hard end date. I make sure that they are SMART goals (get your Google foo on and check this out if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Next, I write them down and stick them on the fridge. Then I create an action plan, working backwards from the goal behaviour into small approximations of that behaviour. Confused? Let me help you out.
Stan Doggo Lee and I are hoping to achieve our Starter Class Trick Dog (TK.S.) title this year. This involves successfully performing 6 tricks from a list of 15. Let’s pick one trick – Go Round once. This is what I know as Object Wrapping. Your dog won’t come hard wired to know how to wrap an object, so you have to teach them how, step by step. My training plan for Stan Lee might look something like this:
Training Goal: Wrap Object at 1 metre
- Novel object of suitable size to wrap
- High value treats
- Commence in a small training bubble and gradually expand to 1 metre
Step 1: approach novel object, reward away, return to starting position, reward
Step 2: approach object, reward near object, return to starting position, reward
Step 3: approach object and return to starting position, reward
Step 4: approach object and reward from handlers left hand at left hand side of object
Step 5: approach object, reward from handler’s left hand at left hand side of object, then lure around rear of object and reward from handler’s right hand at right hand side of object, then return to starting position
Step 6: approach object, wrap object, reward from handler’s right hand
Step 7: approach object, wrap object, reward from handler’s right hand, add verbal and visual cue
Step 8: repeat Steps 1 to 7 as training bubble is gradually expanded to desired distance
Step 9: wrap object on verbal and visual cue from varying distances, return to starting position and reward
Step 10: wrap object on verbal and visual cue from varying distances, return to starting position, delayed reward
Get the idea? All these steps are called “approximations of behaviour”. It’s breaking the goal down into tiny steps. If Stan Doggo Lee can’t manage the next step then I’ll take it back one and reinforce that a little more.
A study by Dr Gail Matthews at Michigan State University found that “76% of participants who wrote down their goals, actions and provided weekly progress to a friend successfully achieved their goals”. I’ve got my goals written down, my training plan written out and my study buddy on speed dial.
1. Achieving Pawsitive Progress: Let’s face it – life isn’t all about performing tricks and it’s more enjoyable when Fido knows the ropes. From polite greetings to Calmness in the home, achieving pawsitive progress is a joyous journey. Plus, who doesn’t love showing off a dog that can settle on their mat or shake paws on cue? It’s like having your own furry magician. So, in celebrating Pawsitive Progress I’d like you to acknowledge all the 1% improvements that your Fido is going to make this year – the approximations of behaviour. All those 1% add up quickly and before you know it you’ve got a new and improved version of your pup.
2. Mental Gymnastics for Canine Einstein: Just like us, dogs need a bit of mental exercise to keep those brains sharp and entertained. Setting training goals introduces a variety of brain games that challenge your pup’s cognitive abilities. It’s like enrolling them in the University of Canine Intelligence – who knew “Boop the Snoot” could be so academically stimulating? Get your notebook out and start setting your training goals for 2024. You won’t regret it!
3. Laugh a Little, Wag a Lot: Let’s be honest, nothing beats the sheer joy of watching your dog master a behaviour that you want. The tail-wagging, the goofy expressions – it’s an instant mood lifter. So why not make 2024 the year of laughter and tail-wagging triumphs? Games-based Concept training turns every learning session into a celebration, complete with rewards.
4. A Positive Pawspective on Life: Concept training isn’t just a training method; it’s a lifestyle. By incorporating this approach into your dog’s education, you’re instilling a positive pawspective on life. Your pup learns that good behaviour is not only rewarding but also the key to unlocking a world of joy, toys, and belly rubs. Talk about a win-win situation!
As we raise our glasses (and maybe a paw or two) to welcome 2024, let’s make a pact – a pact to make this year the most pawsome one yet. Whether it’s mastering new skills or conquering behavioural challenges, I’m here to support you and your Furchild every step of the way.
Here’s to a year filled with tail wiggles, sloppy kisses, and an abundance of pawsitivity. Happy New Year – may your training goals be achievable, your treats be plentiful, and your adventures be tail-waggingly unforgettable!
Game On! Let’s Play!