At this time most people either think about or even write down resolutions for the New Year. Everyone is optimistic and has good intentions. As I think about what my resolutions are, one readily comes to mind – post blogs more frequently. While it is easy to say or even write a resolution, it is harder to keep it. Why is that? For most people it is lack of planning and execution.
For me, planning involves dedicating time to thinking of topics that are interesting for people who share their lives with dogs, researching the topic, writing the blog, taking time to check it thoroughly and then publishing it. Executing my resolution is not as black and white but is even more important. Without execution, there is no blog, no realization of my resolution. Execution will require discipline and dedication. Setting aside time on a calendar for my blog is not enough. I must commit to actually doing every one of the above-mentioned steps.
Making resolutions can be applied to training dogs. You may have gotten a puppy for Christmas or adopted a dog from a local shelter. The honeymoon period is filled with fun times, laughter, and happiness as you welcome your new family member into your home. And you probably make resolutions for your puppy or dog that involve training.
Here’s the hard part. You must execute that resolution. You can plan to attend a puppy or basic manners class. However, attendance alone does not equate to a well-mannered puppy or dog. You must practice with your dog what is taught in the class. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true. The more you practice the behaviors with your dog, the better your dog becomes in doing those behaviors when asked.
Training new behaviors and maintaining those behaviors require setting aside time. Modern technology offers time every day. Those commercials most people would rather not watch are perfect for training. Another possibility is taking a few minutes before feeding your dog to practice a few behaviors. These short sessions, if done a few times a day are a wonderful way of setting up a routine that allows you to work with your dog, see progress, and actually follow through on one of your new year’s resolutions.
Theoretically, any time you are with your puppy or your dog, training is happening. Even when you are playing with your puppy, one of you is the learner and one of you is the teacher. Reinforcing good behavior during play helps set the stage for appropriate play with you. If you are reading a book or working on your computer, you can practice your dog’s down stay on their mat, helping him or her learn to relax when you are busy doing something else.
Kathy Sdao, in her book Plenty in Life is Free, offers another way to not only plan to train but also execute your plan. She offers the SMART50 plan. SMART stands for see mark and reward training. The number 50 is the number of treats or pieces of your dog’s food that you use each day to reinforce any and all good behavior your dog offers. The number can be changed based on the size of your dog and amount of food you feed each day. By reinforcing any and all good behavior, you are reinforcing behavior you want your dog to do again in the future. Over time you will notice that your dog chooses to perform those behaviors. They learn to make good choices. The only thing you need to do is count out the number of treats or food, place them in an easily accessed location, and then verbally mark and reinforce all good behavior you dog chooses to do on his own. What an easy way to help your dog choose good behaviors and carry out additional training on a daily basis.
Now is a great time to plan for your dog’s training and execute that plan. If you are looking for classes, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you do not see one that fits your needs on my website or in an email blast.
As for my resolution, I have set aside time to execute it and plan to publish a new blog at least once a month at the beginning of each month. If there is a subject about which you would like me to write, email me.
Happy 2019 to all of you and here’s to actually fulfilling our resolutions!