Friday, December 31, 2010

Setting Appropriate Goals

Dog training is very simple. Reinforce behaviors you like. They happen more often. Manage so that inappropriate responses cannot appear or are not likely to appear. Dog training is also very complex: rate of reinforcement, placement of reinforcement, make a training plan, choose the best training plan, types of reinforcers, how to increase criteria.

Goal setting is very simple. Write down something...and work towards it. Goal setting can also be really difficult. Is it realistic? Is it better to go big picture or little pieces? If you take a big picture, how small to you make the pieces? How do you work towards the goal without compromising long-term structural integrity of behaviors?

How do you even decide on goals? There's a lot of options that sound fabulous. They all sound great. I'm not really attached to any particular potential goals.

Obedience? Agility? Tracking? Field stuff? Scootering? Flyball? Or traveling and adventuring? Or concept training? Do we get a big shelter training program going? Expand our kid-dog projects? Too many seminars? Read as many dog books as I can? Do a million tricks? It all sounds good, but we can't do it all.

About fourth months ago, I asked Google about how to set goals. And it made it sound simple, but I still had trouble. I read multiple books about goal setting and achieving. And now I'm having even more trouble setting goals! Especially without that first decisive piece... it's quite a struggle!

I was definitely not reinforced for having the goal of going to the New Years trial, entering, and pulling at the last minute. It was a punishing experience! Now I need to set myself up for success!

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