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Creating a training program

The first step in creating a training program for you and your dog is to identify and define your goals. Defining goals is important because it requires you to know what you want to accomplish rather than just muddling along. Every person will have different training goals for themselves and their dogs. In order to be satisfied with your progress in training and for the process to be enjoyable for both you and your dog, the goals you are striving to achieve need to be goals you have set for yourself and not what someone else has told you that you need to achieve.

What are your goals? A general idea that you want a well-mannered, obedient dog is not a goal unless you can define what you mean by "well-mannered and obedient." When setting goals, it is important to set attainable goals to work towards.

After having defined a goal, the next stage is to break down the goal into discrete steps. If your criteria for well-mannered is a dog that stays out of the kitchen while you are fixing dinner, and who doesn't hog the covers on the bed at night, the steps you take to achieve this goal will be different from the person who defines well-mannered as a dog who doesn't bolt through doors, eat the cat or jump on people. If your criteria for obedient is a dog with a reliable sit, down and come, your ultimate goal will differ from the individual with a goal of achieving an OTCh (Obedience Trial Champion.)

Therefore, to create a successful training program you need to:

First, identify your long-term goals
Second, identify the short-term goals necessary to achieve your long-term goals
Third, for each short-term goal you need to break it into discrete training steps; and
Fourth, further break down the discrete training steps into the behaviors comprising that action

With your goals clearly identified and a clear understanding of the steps needed to reach your goals you are now ready to start training.

For more information: National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors; ABC Dog Training LLC

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