New Year’s Resolution Success For You and Your Agility Dog

new year's resolutionsThe reason most New Year’s resolutions don’t work out is because they are set on the end goal with no steps from here to there.  They are grand notions that are impossible to reach and thus we set ourselves up for failure before we even start.  So how do we set up successful New Year’s resolutions? By making plans on how to reach our goals with small easy to attain steps.  Much the same way we teach our dogs.  Setting ourselves up for success each step of the way.

Here are some great goals along with ideas on how to break them down.

  1. Get in better condition for you and your dog. – Map out what you are currently doing with your dog toward this goal.  Then make one change per month to that routine.  If you jog with your dog you can increase the time by 5-10 minutes or maybe add a 1 minute sprint to the session.  You could add hiking hills one day a week.  Then set rewards for the end of the month before setting a new goal.
  2. Work on a new handling technique.  If you have never done a rear cross, put one into each of your practice runs until you and your dog master it.  This could take months or weeks, just be patient.  Then look for a new technique to practice like a send out.  You don’t have to use them, but they will help you and your dog become a better team and if you need them at some point you will have it in your tool box to use.
  3. Try a new game. – Rally obedience, herding, tracking, dock diving, fly ball, therapy work.  Anything you do with your dog will make them more rounded and build your team’s trust and communication.  Plus, it freshens the mind to do new things and succeed at them.
  4. Improve distance work. – We touched on this earlier, but if your dog is already doing distance work it is great to continue with it and see what you can do.  It also helps with your dog’s confidence and obstacle recognition when you help them work further from your side.  Keep the steps small for both you and your dog.  Increase by feet or even just inches being sure your dog is stretched but not discouraged.
  5. Say something encouraging to another team.  – This can be a real game changer for someone just getting into the sport.  There have been many stories where a handler has gotten encouragement at a trial and that is the only reason they kept trying.  Remember, we all love the game and we all get down when we have a bad run.  Just knowing we are not alone in our struggles will make all the difference in the world.

Perfection is a bad goal.  You and your dog should only be headed to improvements, no matter how small.  For some that is competing at a national event, for others it will be keeping your dog with you through the whole course.  Yes, you need to set goals and keep striving toward being your best, but don’t let that consume you so you lose sight on the fun you and your dog should be having on this great journey we call dog agility.