Friday, January 7, 2022

SMART Goal Planning


Does thinking about creating your training plan have broken you down and giving up?

Do you often take the approach of let's try it and see what happens?

Are you and/or your dog frustrated for not hitting your previous goals?

If so, this blog on creating S.M.A.R.T GOALS should help you out!

First, what is a S.M.A.R.T Goal

This means that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Goals that meet this criteria will keep you on track to success while stretching your skills as a trainer and your dog's skills to thrive in your world.

  • Specific:  Simply states the end goal behavior that you want your dog to be able to do.
  • Measurable:  Should be something that you can clearly see happening.
  • Achievable:  Should be within your dog's natural abilities without asking them to do the impossible.
  • Relevant:  Something that will effect your ability to function in your everyday life more effectively as a team.
  • Time bound:  Realistic amount of time you expect to need to achieve your goal.

Here is a deeper look at potential goal that I have for Azul.

I want him to be able to enjoy strolls through the woods, off leash where he can satisfy his need for zooming, sniffing, and social time with friends.  But I'm not willing to risk his safety, my safety, or that of others on the trail when his recall is not rock solid.  I need to keep in mind that his age and environmental distractions play a huge roll in this.

Specific Behavior: Rapid Recall
Measurable:  Based in recall history around common distractions.
Achievable:  While this one may seem like it takes forever, it's totally achievable with time so I'm going to list some the general things that I will do to achieve this.
Relevant: We live in a rural area where this would be totally appropriate and help us enjoy more nature.  But safety is priority so for a relevant aspect here, I'm also going to include management to ensure safety.
Time:  This obviously is not going to be a 1 session, 1 week, or 1 month goal so I'm going to state in my goal that we are working on this throughout the year.

Here is my final goal and 3 objectives I will use to work on this goal.
Increase Azul's ability to recall in the presence of distractions including wildlife and dogs by expanding his reinforcement history with toys & games designed to make myself more fun then any distraction while using management to ensure safety without letting him practice ignoring behaviors.
  • Take longline sniff-a-bouts on our property and in lower distraction areas at least 3 times a week to practice in real life situations safely while practicing various directional cues; far enough, this way, & yoohoo Zuly.
  • Provide social opportunities for Azul 1-2 times a week in secured areas where he can safely run with friends.
  • Practice a more formal style recall at home and in public spaces where it is safe to add to the reinforcement history when it is easy for Azul to succeed.

Now that you understand more about S.M.A.R.T. Goals you can start thinking about what some of your training plan goals will be.  But don't start writing that training plan yet.  Wait for my next blog that will discuss how to choose what you should work on first!

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