When it comes to dog training, do you ever find yourself focused on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey?
A fun, stress-free walk without worrying about what your dog is going to react to, or whether other dogs are going to invade your space.
That goal of stress-free walks with a dog who feels comfortable in their own skin and has the skills to handle the situations life throws their way is entirely achievable. We know it. We’ve seen it with thousands of dogs and owners who have jumped into the AbsoluteDogs Games Club and embraced the transformational power of games based training.
And yet, it can be easy to become so focused on that goal that you forget to celebrate the small, daily wins, and enjoy the journey you and your dog are on together.
The same can be true of any dog training struggle or goal — and any personal goal. Maybe your biggest wish for your dog is that they have the skills to enjoy the freedom of off-leash adventures without disappearing over the horizon after wildlife, or chasing birds for miles along the beach.
Or maybe you dream of the day when your dog is able to conquer the Dog Walk in Agility, or run a clear round without knocking a pole, or choosing the tempting Tunnel over the A-Frame.
Perhaps your goal is more personal. You dream of taking your passion for dogs and turning it into your profession.
All of these goals are vital. They are what give you momentum and focus, and keep you driving forwards.
And yet it’s so important for that continued momentum that you set achievable goals, track your progress, celebrate your wins, and continually re-evaluate.
Identifying Your Training Focus
The first step in achieving any training goal is to identify where you need to put your focus.
Perhaps your dog has many struggles, and you’re unsure what to work on first. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or lost, or slightly stretched by your dog’s current behaviour struggles, it can feel daunting working out what to tackle first.
Of course, dog training isn’t just about behaviour struggles. Perhaps your goals relate to dog sports, or progressing your dog’s trick repertoire, or competitive obedience.
You may just have welcomed a puppy into your life and want to make sure you get off on the very best foot as you embrace the joy and challenges of life with a new dog.
Your goals for your dog will be individual to you. And yet, it’s still vital to be able to identify and set realistic, achievable goals and to be intentional about how you pursue them.
Whatever big goals you have, it can be helpful to consider the following when it comes to setting those smaller goals and knowing where to put your focus:
- Think about your Powerful Why: What was the reason you chose to get a dog in the first place? Your Powerful Why is your biggest motivator when training gets tough.
- Every dog is an individual: Remember the importance of working with the dog in front of you and setting your dog up for success. Don’t be tempted to compare yourself or your dog with others. You are on a unique journey.
- What is your biggest pain point right now? Dog training can feel supremely overwhelming, especially if you try to tackle every struggle at the same time. Consider the skills you and your dog need to successfully navigate the situations they are going to encounter day to day, and allow these to shape your priorities.
- Make sure everyone is on board: Are your family members on board with your dog’s training plan? Setting really clear expectations with family members is so important when it comes to setting your dog up for success. Check out the Training Your Family episode of the AbsoluteDogs Sexier Than A Squirrel podcast for some insightful thoughts and helpful strategies.
- Break large goals into small steps: Whether you’re working on teaching your dog a new skill or you’re tackling a behaviour struggle, setting out those smaller steps that will take you towards that end goal ensures strong foundations, as well as making those bigger goals feel way more attainable.
- Track your progress: Keeping a daily diary, training tracker or journal is so helpful. It doesn’t need to be an arduous task. A few simple notes each time you train can allow you to see your progress. Training isn’t linear and there will be days when you have blips, so a training tracker is a powerful way of seeing the upward trajectory of your training over time — or giving you the information you need to adjust your plan if progress is slow.
- Be flexible and adaptable: It’s okay if your goals and training priorities change over time. Being able to adjust your plan keeps you moving forward.
- Set a realistic timeframe: As well as being specific about what you want to work on, it’s important to be clear about when you want to reach a particular goal or milestone. Again, this is about setting small, achievable goals, charting your progress, celebrating your wins and continually re-evaluating. A 3-week training plan is a brilliant way to keep yourself motivated, and is just one of the many resources you’ll find in Games Club to help focus your training and keep you on track with your goals.
Download Your Free Training Journal
Whether you’re brand new to the idea of keeping a training journal or you love the motivation boost of a daily tracker, check out our free downloadable Training Journal.
With daily and weekly goal planning (for you and your dog), inspirational quotes, a place to record your wins, daily reflections and a space for planning those longer term goals, it’s the answer to keeping yourself motivated, accountable and getting those real-life results from your game playing with your dog.
Your Powerful Why
Whether you’re starting the wonderful adventure of dog ownership for the very first time, or you’re feeling a little lost in firefighting unexpected training struggles, your Powerful Why is the reason you started this journey in the first place.
What was it that motivated you to welcome a dog into your life?
What did you imagine that life would be like? How did you picture it?
Perhaps you dreamed of long, stress-free walks and the total freedom that comes with a dog who is able to walk beautifully on lead and reliably off lead.
Maybe your vision was of a dog you could take anywhere and everywhere — a partner in crime and companion in all situations.
Perhaps your dream was of a dog who could compete in dog sports, or be your superstar demo dog.
Being able to reconnect with your Powerful Why is so important.
This is your ultimate motivation.
Your dog owning dream is what will push you through from the world of firefighting to a renewed commitment to transform that behaviour struggle, or find a way to make that dream a reality.
Setting Achievable Dog Training Goals:
The Power of Small Steps
Just like in life, dog training is all about those small, consistent steps that lead to giant leaps of success.
It can be all too easy to put immense pressure on ourselves and our dogs to make instant progress. But here’s the secret: progress doesn’t always come in huge, flashy achievements. It’s in the everyday victories, the tiny breakthroughs, and the moments of connection and consistency that makes the biggest difference over time.
Small steps can be game-changers.
Let’s consider some advantages of setting yourself those small goals and easy wins:
- Focusing on achievable goals can help prevent you from becoming frustrated with your dog’s behaviour, and instead acknowledge and celebrate their achievements.
- Reaching those small goals motivates you to keep going, because you can see that the work you are putting in is making a difference.
- Celebrating your wins and tracking your progress creates good habits and keeps you on a consistent track with your training — even on days when the going feels a little tougher.
- Achieving a small milestone builds confidence — both in you and your dog!
Kick off your goal-setting journey by outlining your big goals and long term objectives, and then “zoom in” to work out what smaller steps will take you towards that ultimate goal.
Here at AbsoluteDogs we know the importance of training FOR the situation before you consider putting your dog in the situation. So, if your long term goal for your dog is off-leash freedom and stress-free walks, think about all the individual skills and concepts that your dog needs to learn to be able to enjoy adventures off lead:
- Value for proximity (hanging out with you)
- The ability to ignore distractions
- An understanding that other dogs, people and wildlife are none of their business
- A reliable recall
- The ability to think and listen in higher levels of excitement
Consider the importance of building those skills in easier environments first, and you begin to have a step-by-step plan for reaching that end goal.
This intricate web of skills required for a single experience is true of any goal or training focus. Manageable steps are what will keep you motivated and making progress.
Join us over on the Sexier Than A Squirrel podcast as we chat about motivation, getting energised and staying on top of your game: Get Motivated, Stay Energised and Be On Top of Your Game ft. Justin Prust.
Of course, it’s also vital to have strategies in place for days when your training doesn’t go to plan — and we share some super tips and strategies in this super podcast episode: Top Tips for Days When Training Doesn’t Go Right!
Framing Your Goals For Success
Whatever training goal you set for yourself, it can be supremely helpful to think about why that goal is important to you (how it moves you towards your dog owning dream), and what achieving that goal will look like. This will allow you to set out those small, achievable steps that will lead you towards that ultimate goal.
Let’s take the example of loose-leash walking — a goal of so many dog owners, and a very common dog-owning struggle. Consider framing your goal, and the steps you are going to take to reach that goal, like this:
- Why is this important to you? You might decide that loose-lead walking is your number one goal because it is the missing piece of the puzzle that will make your outings enjoyable for both you and your dog as you learn to head out as a team. You will no longer feel like the person holding your dog back from all those experiences just out of reach, and your walks will no longer be a battle of wills.
- What would success look like to you? For you, success might be when you and your dog are able to walk down the street and pass distractions without tension on the lead.
- What will move you towards that goal? This might include teaching value for proximity through games played at home (both on and off the lead), creating positive pairings with your dog’s walking equipment, and understanding the WHY behind your dog’s behaviour so you can master the HOW to loose-leash walking — all of which you can discover in our 10 Days To Stop Pulling course.
Unlock Real Life Results in Games Club
If you’re looking for the perfect way to unlock real life results and give yourself a training focus this year, look no further than Games Club.
It can be so hard to know where to start when you’re setting yourself and your dog new training goals, and that’s where Games Club is so powerful.
Inside Games Club, you’ll find a huge library of training games targeting every struggle you might be facing with your dog, each carefully curated to infuse fun into your training sessions. You’ll also find lessons and resources that help you shape your training journey for ultimate success. With all that content at your fingertips, you’ll find it so much easier to set yourself a goal, track your progress and stay accountable.
Whether your goal for your dog is more calmness and less barking, you’re looking for solutions to tackle pulling on lead struggles or your biggest pain point is jumping up or counter surfing, our targeted, struggle-focused Mini Courses, seamlessly integrated into your membership, provide a roadmap to tackle specific challenges head-on.
And what truly sets Games Club apart is its vibrant and supportive community, where fellow dog owners share experiences, celebrate victories, and offer encouragement – and we’d absolutely love to welcome you home.
Embarking on a journey with the Absolute Dogs Games Club is not just joining a club; it’s entering a realm of unparalleled motivation, finely-tuned training goals, and a laser-sharp focus on turning your dog training struggles into amazing strengths.
Join us in the journey of small steps, big transformations, and a healthier, happier life with your dog: absolutedogs.me/jointheclub
New Year New Start – Challenge On!
And hey, why not kick off your dog training adventure with a bang this January? Dive into the New Year New Start Challenge, an invigorating opportunity to supercharge your motivation with one game a day throughout the month. This challenge not only brings focus to your training but also serves as a delightful daily dose of game-playing joy.
Get involved in our New Year New Start Challenge this January, and not only will you experience the thrill of the challenge, but you can also snag your first month in Games Club for just £5 (normally £30). It’s an unbeatable offer for a fresh start, setting the tone for a year filled with training transformation and the joy of training.
Join Games Club and witness your motivation skyrocket as you forge a deeper connection with your dog through the power of play. It’s dog training gamified!
And you can level up our Challenge with our Games Club at the link below.