A few weeks after we got Hurley, I made a training calendar for the next 3 months. It was quite impressive, let me tell you. I listed each week's training tasks and when I wanted certain behaviors and commands to be at their 80% rate (Hurley will do ____ for me 8 out of 10 times). It was color-coded. 'Cause that's how I roll.
I can plan the crap out of anything. My favorite part is always the planning. Doing is also pretty awesome but I fully relish the joys of anticipation that planning brings.
I followed the training calendar for exactly 2 weeks and, though it's posted right on the refrigerator, have barely glanced at it since.
What a shame, right? Well, I don't know about that. If I were to really look at the calendar and compare where we are today with where I wanted us to be, I'm sure we're not that far off. Yeah, I really need to work more on his recall. He pulls on the leash, for which I'm getting a front-clip harness to help. But we're working really hard on his impulse control with lots of stays, leave its, offs, etc. Does he still think anything and everything belongs in his mouth? Yup. But we're so far ahead on all the fun tricks - Like Shake, Other Paw, High Five, Other Paw, Wave (I'll get the Other Paw Wave soon!). Maybe I'm not on the exact training path that we started out on, but you gotta roll with the punches. It became obvious early on that Hurley needed tons of impulse control work. This also happens to be the most frustrating type of training for me so I needed to work on the fun stuff to keep training sessions fun for both of us. Yes, he needs to have a better recall and stat!, but I think we're on a good path.
What's my point? (I do occasionally have one!) I don't know if I would have gotten started as well on Hurley's training if I didn't sit down and plan it out. Knowing what 10 commands and behaviors I wanted to get down in the first couple months always gave me something to work on, whether ahead or behind of schedule. Having that structure also strangely gave me the freedom to adjust as we went along and re-prioritize. Not sure why - maybe because knowing what I was skipping allowed me to remember to come back to it. One of the most valuable lessons Hurley is teaching me is that it's not only about him learning to be a good dog. It's also about me having fun throughout this process. And we do have lots of fun. Today, he did a 30 second sit-stay and down-stay for the first time and his Leave It with treats in front of him is now at about 10-15 seconds. He got Other Paw High Five so quickly it's not even funny. He is such a smart little guy and I'm super proud of how well he's doing. I still stand by my original statement that Hurley's future as a Canine Good Citizen and possibly Therapy Dog is more about my abilities 'cause he's totally got what it takes. So without further ado, here's my Hurley-man showing off: