One of the obstacles that many people with dogs run up against is finding the time or the desire to train, i.e. motivation.
We humans like instant results. We have trouble seeing the benefit of doing something which will only result in changes far into the future (or what we perceive as being far into the future).
I have found that with myself, the times when I don’t feel very motivated to train are those in which I am not sure what to train. Indecision about what the best thing to work on at a particular time is the most annoying and frustrating thing that gets in the way of actually training your dog.
To change this and increase my motivation, I have implemented a simple tactic. I keep a training journal.
There are many, many articles on the internet that discuss the importance and benefit of keeping a personal journal. Journals help you get your ideas out of your head. They allow expression of emotions, which is vital to one’s health, and they help you to accomplish goals by letting you see them daily in written form.
It is really no different when you train your dog.
The best way to accomplish a particular training goal is to keep a training journal.
It may seem time consuming and useless but it is definitely not and is probably the most motivating thing you can do to get yourself to regularly train your dog.
How I Keep Track
I use two separate items to keep track of the training I do. The first one is making large colourful X’s on a regular calendar.
Each X represents a day that you did some training with your dog. It doesn’t matter if it is one minute or ten minutes. If you did some training, you get to make an X on the calendar. Make sure it is an X in your favourite colour or alternate coloured markers to make it interesting.
The point of doing this is to get a sense of accomplishment from seeing that you did some training that day.
You don’t have to be perfect and train 2 – 20 minute sessions or more a day. You just have to take a small step towards having a trained dog. One minute counts towards that goal. Consistent small steps is the best way to accomplish most things.
The second thing is the actual journal in which I write about the dog’s day and training. I include the training we did as well as physical exercise, other activities and sometimes what the dogs had for supper. In general it is a record of what we did that day together.
Using a journal like this is very handy to look back on when you need to remind yourself of what you have already done for training.
If you include other things your dog did and what he ate, you are even farther ahead because that information can be crucial in your dog’s health if it is ever needed. You just never know when you can use this type of information to help you.
If you need a little help accomplishing training goals or even just recording your daily activities with your dog for fun, you will get much more benefit from this daily exercise than you might imagine.