Friday, December 7, 2012

At long last . . . a goal sheet!

I've been wanting to get to this for awhile now, and with the help of my student, Angie, I'm finally able to provide a first draft of a goal sheet. Consistently when I teach New Beginnings courses or coach families, I remind them of the importance of goals.

Of course we all want perfectly-behaved dogs that meld seamlessly with the family, but that takes time and effort. Notice, however, I didn't say "work." That's because I don't view it as work. When I want to build a more mutually satisfying relationship with one of my dogs, I start by looking at the behaviors--the dog's and mine. What is the dog doing that frustrates me? What's getting reinforced?

Let's think of Lucy. She barks (or should I say screeches) at the cat. I don't particularly enjoy that behavior.

So, I might scream, but that won't work, right?

Frankly, when I observe Lucy barking at the cat, I notice her whole body is tense. Step one, I need to help descrease her tension when she sees the cat, redirect her, perhaps, reward her when she doesn't react, possibly prevent Lucy from getting so close to the cat until she becomes more calm (with gates, for example). Little-by-little, I should be able to help Lucy approach cats more calmly, but I can't just make that happen without thinking it through and implementing a plan. To help you with that, I've added a new tab, "Set Goals!"

Let me know what you think won't you?

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