by Debby Quigley
Whether you are training your dog to perform tricks, tasks, agility or obedience, it is done in stages. Debby Quigley explains how setting goals- milestones gives you a greater chance for success.
Establishing Goals is an incredible method for achieving what you want. Setting goals provides you with a way to view your objectives and make changes so that your goals can be met. Goals can be set for daily, weekly, monthly or yearly target dates. Setting goals focuses your attention to the important aspects of your mission and desires. The key to setting goals is to create goals that are objective and achievable and that can be measured to give you direction.
When setting goals, many people typically focus on learning new skills or performances in competitions. However, goals can cover many aspects of your training and life. Some examples of achievable goals include improving your fitness, or increasing your mental toughness, or improving your better timing and consistency, etc.
The old adage, “there are only so many hours in a day” so it makes sense to optimize your time on achieving your goals. Before you start thinking about what you want to achieve, you have to realistically determine exactly how much time and effort you are willing to devote to training and working towards your goal. The result of your time and effort will be reflected in your dog’s ability to learn and execute skills consistently.
Here is a simple way to establish your goal(s) after you have determined the amount of time you are going to spend.
1. Ask yourself what DO YOU want to work toward and achieve. You goal needs to be under your control, challenging yet realistic and positive. Positive goals help you determine what you can do rather than what not to do! Make your goal(s) very specific. The clearer you objectives are, the easier it will be to imagine and obtain your goal. Effective goals are limited in number and importance to you. Establishing a few, carefully selected goals will allow you to keep accurate records without becoming overwhelmed.
2. Write down your goal. You can put your goals on sticky notes and post them where your will see them throughout the day. Place a sticky note on the fridge or your bathroom mirror or an index card in your training bag or car. Visual cues increase the likelihood you will achieve your goal.
3. Break down your long-term goals into small steps that can be used as short-term goals. Short-term goals can provide more motivation since they are more readily achievable and make great stepping stones. Short-term goals also show you the progress you have made towards obtaining the long-term goal.
4. Create action steps for each goal. These steps help you achieve your goal and will define the actions you need to take, study, train, or practice to reach your goal. The number of action steps depends on the goals you set.
5. Set specific Time Lines and Target Dates. Target dates have a tendency to remove lighthearted ideas and clarify which of your goals are realistic and which are not. Furthermore, Target dates give you a specific time frame to work towards.
6. Track your progress. Use a notebook, calendar, or anything you can log information so you can monitor your progress. Writing down and reviewing your progress will help you stay motivated and repeatedly remind you of where you were and how far you have come.
7. Celebrate your success for each step, short term- and long-term goal achieved. Remember it is the action steps that get you to your final goal
When carefully thought out and written, goals give direction and tell us what we need in order to accomplish our dreams.
About the author: Debby Quigley has been showing and teaching over 25 years in many venues including obedience, rally, agility, and scentwork. She has earned multiple OTCHs, MACHs, PACHs and perfect 200 scores. Debby also owns and teaches classes at Dogwood Dog Training in Houston, Tx and also teaches online at http://debbyquigley.com.