Promises Made, Promises Kept

As this month goes by, I realize that keeping my commitment to writing this blog on a regular basis is not unlike dog training.  This time, I am learning to train myself.  I often find that I fill my days up with “to dos” and before I know it, I have run out of time.  I have lists on paper, lists in my head, lists on my phone and lists on my computer.  Then there is the incorporating of all those thoughts, ideas and reminders into their final resting place.   I have a lot of balls in the air and I find that the best way for me to keep this commitment, no matter how busy I am, is to make a promise to myself.  I have a lot of things in my life based on unspoken promises, but real promises nonetheless.    Whether it is that I will honor and respect my friends and family, take care of my furry critters and make sure they are happy and well-cared for, or honor my commitment with whatever particular job I have taken on.  Keeping promises to yourself are sometimes the hardest.  Think about those New Year’s Resolutions I talked about earlier last month.  Consistency, focus, commitment and being willing to pick yourself up when you fail or falter – all part of dog training as well as life training!

I tell people to try to work with your dog every day.  Every day.   People say “Sure, but I have a bunch of stuff I already have to do every day.  I don’t have time to work with my dog every day.”  But not every day needs to be about learning a new trick or task.  Sometimes it is just as simple as rewarding for good behavior (sitting quietly while you eat dinner or coming to you quickly when called).  It can be a quick game of hide and seek.  It can be a group of “sits” and “downs” and “stays”.  Your dog loves to work with you.  It is rewarding for them just to be a part of your life.  Before you know it, it will also be one of the most rewarding and satisfying pieces of your day.

Like most things in life though, there is a caveat.  When I say “Work with your dog every day”, I really should be saying “Work with your dog every day, unless you are not capable in those moments of working WITH your dog”.  Everyone has those days when either nothing goes right or someone has yelled at you at work or you’ve had an argument with a loved one or you’re not feeling well or you’re just completely maxed out and have nothing to give.  Your dog will forgive you for not wanting to do a training session.  Being angry, impatient and/or frustrated makes for a bad training session for you and your dog.  Sometimes this can create more harm than good.  You want your dog to look forward to working with you, not dread sessions because you have not been very pleasant to be around.  Remember, your dog doesn’t know that you had a bad day at work.  It is actually an excellent time though to bond with your dog.  Providing emotional support on those days isn’t really about training at all.  Our dogs feel a connection to us.  We are part of their pack.  On those days, our dogs train us.   They teach us about the importance of ear scratches and belly rubs, cold nose nuzzles and bringing a smile to our faces.

So as I close this one out and put another blog post on the books, I want to leave you with a little thought on promises.  The most important promises we make in life are to ourselves.  I will do my best to keep my commitment to write this blog on a consistent basis.  There are times I will falter, there are times I will fail in my efforts, but I will forgive myself for my imperfections.  As I finish writing this today, my furry girl is lying next to me on the couch with her head propped on a pillow.  Later, we will work a little together and play a lot together.  I promised her some belly rubs and ear scratches later too.

Wishing you fulfilled and fulfilling promises,


Kicking Off the New Year

Happy 2019 everyone! Did you make a New Year resolution? Do you expect to keep it? I read recently that most people don’t keep their resolutions past February. I have my theories on that, right or wrong. First I believe that there are several parts to keeping our resolutions. Let’s examine those a bit.

First, is your resolution realistic? If you say that you are going to work out for 2 hours every day, for most of us that might be something that would be hard to start of keep up. If you already workout for an hour and half, maybe this isn’t a stretch for you at all. If you tell yourself you are going to read 3 books a week but barely find time to take a shower, perhaps you need to rethink that resolution.

Second, how much do you want whatever it is that you are resolving to do or not do? It is not just about willpower, but about your commitment to that goal. It is about the desire to attain the goal and your willingness to commit to it, even when it’s hard.

Third, there are not many things that happen totally as desired without a plan. Make a plan for yourself. Make a contract with yourself. Decide how you are going to get there, what steps you are going to ensure your success and how to thwart and react and adjust when the plan takes a different turn.

Fourth, the rewards. Small rewards. Big Rewards. We all need them. Reward yourself along the way. In your plan, don’t forget the milestones and reward yourself for reaching them.

Now, here’s where I am going with all this folks. If you want to build your relationship with your dog, if you want to work on tasks, solidify behaviors or eliminate undesirable ones, train an assistance/medical dog, therapy dog certification – it is no different of a strategy than you use to tackle things in your human life. If you want to be successful, you need a plan and the steps you need to achieve it. You need to understand how to communicate with your dog, to understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Yes, it is work. Yes, it takes commitment. But the reward for both you and your dog will last a lifetime. Are you ready?

Getting Started

Welcome to everyone visiting here! As I begin to write my blog, someone ask me about my goal in writing this blog. My hope is that I can provide some insight, training tips, useful information and perhaps some food for thought on the relationship with your dog(s).

I believe strongly in the human canine connection and I believe in not only your dog’s potential to achieve greatness, but I believe in the greatness you can achieve together. In that spirit, I will attempt to achieve some of those goals. And as in life, sometimes our actual training accomplishments are not just the ones that we set out to achieve, but the ones that we achieve along the way.

Stay tuned!