It’s the year 2020 and what better way to start the year than going over your goals you have for you and your dog. Goals are accomplished through your daily habits and rituals, so ask yourself what current habits do you have with your dog and how can you improve upon them.
Did you know that on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
Humans and dogs are creatures of habit and thrive with routines. Habit formation is the process by which a behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic or habitual. So go grab yourself a pen and paper, or start a new note on your phone or a new document on your laptop – whatever suits you best to write down your thoughts that you will be putting into action this year. Do it, heck let’s have some accountability – comment on this blog what goals you have and what new habits you will be forming to complete these goals.
A few ideas from KeenDog Training:
- Instead of feeding your dog their meal(s) out of a bowl, use that food for a short 2-5 minute training session.
- This is a fantastic habit to get into as this will ensure you get more reps into all of your commands, builds your value with your dog as you are seen as the source of food and fun vs a bowl, mentally stimulates your dog and keeps your dog food motivated vs being picky with treats/eating.
- Have your dog wait and/or sit at door frames.
- This builds knowledge and respect of barriers, solidifies your dog’s impulse when they are faced with other distracting motivators and connects the reward of being released outside to you.
- Create a relationship in which your dog offers engagement without being told.
- A dog that willingly and actively engages with their owner vs the environment is a dog who wants to work with their human and is keen on doing so.
Once you have a few new habits you are wanting to achieve and the overall goal you have for each one of them then you need to create a plan of action to fall into these habits.
For my above examples the first one I would say make sure to give yourself 5 extra minutes vs being rushed to fit in a session (maybe cut back on some social media time). For the second one, when you know you are taking your dog through a barrier have your rewards and communication tools ready (a leash and/or an e collar depending on where you are at with your training) so you can reinforce the behavior you want and can clearly communicate with your dog. For the third one mark and reward often for your dog offering up engagement, play games (lots of them) with your dog winning often so they want to re-engage with you and overall be a great leader for your dog in this crazy distracting world (that means not allowing unknown people/dogs to come rushing into their space – you must block those people away and be your dog’s biggest advocate).
Are you currently at a point where you think you’re too far deep in a learned behavior there is no going back? Trust us, it’s never too late and you may even fall short a couple times and have to get back on track and that’s ok. Bad habits are formed most of the time because they are the easier routes when you are in the moment, yet will show up negatively in other areas. For example when guests come over it may be easier to restrain your dog via their collar or put them in a crate vs working them through their impulses and having them hold a place command, sit or just meet them in a relaxed state of mind; yet this is only increasing your dog’s drive and motivation to pull harder next time or not be able to control themselves with new stimuli around.
It takes consistency, commitment and clarity to create new habits so be patient and be your dog’s biggest cheerleader. Surrounding yourself with other people with similar goals so that you can have accountability partners and others to train with is always a great idea! Connect with a local trainer, a FaceBook group in your area or if you’re in Charlotte you can become a part of the KeenDog community by starting your training today.
– Katrina Kensingtonfirstname.lastname@example.org