Setting Training Goals
Do you have grand plans for your dog? Perhaps you want to compete in a dog sport, or become a therapy team and visit people in times of need, or perhaps you want to learn all the tricks in the book. Whatever your end goal, it's important to break down the skills needed and work in small, measurable segments which will then combine together to complete the journey.
Take, for example, teaching your dog to come when you call. The end goal is to be able to call your dogs' name from across a field and have them running to you immediately. Imagine that beautiful site of floppy ears and a drooling face coming your way! On training day #1, you wouldn't want to go to the field and let go of the leash, right? Sorry to break it to you, but there's a very slim chance your dog will choose you over that squirrel in the tree over there! Instead, we need to build them up to the challenge. Let's think of some initial things to consider. Does your dog respond to their name yet? Do you currently use a recall word that isn't working? Does your dog listen to you in the house but not outside? Your answers to basic questions like these will help identify the small, measurable segments from which to build until you can add more complex skills and complete the overall training goal.
Even the best laid plans can get off-course however so all training requires flexibility! If your dog isn't responding the way you expected, did you skip ahead too quickly? Is there an unexpected distraction that caught their eye (or nose!)? Are they(or you) fatigued? It's important to be open to adjustments along the way because no matter what you're working on, you should always have a goal of having fun and enjoying this time with your dog.