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Anyone else have rules to follow?

One of my guilty pleasures is to watch NCIS with Gibbs and his #rules! It can be easy to drift off and not think about things near to me and gives a chance to recharge and we all need to do that some days. He uses his rules to help keep his team focused and self disciplined and I wondered if this can apply to our dog ownership and the dog training we do with them?

I was looking at some of the rules I have with my dogs and how I always no matter how tired I am, make sure that they have their off lead walk everyone morning. Yes this is going to be so much easier, when I have only got to walk across the track, but at the moment, it means getting in the car and driving there. It feels so good to be out and even on a day like today, I enjoyed being out with the dogs and seeing them enjoying themselves. So that's one of my rules. But we all have them and it helps our dogs if we stick to a steady routine. If you don't want your dog on the bed or sofa when wet - then don't invite them up onto it when dry - rules are rules! And if you keep changing them, then you are confusing them. I am sure you can think of many more that you have - what about the ones you decided on before you welcomed a dog into your house? How are they doing?

Have you heard of "the 2 minute rule"? - If you want to start new habit, don't make it too complicated. If you want to start training your dog to do a new trick, just commit to doing it for 2 minutes to start with. You can all find 2 minutes, and before you know it, you'll find that you have been going for that bit longer. Simple Why not try it today?

Next we return to another of the rules first mentioned by James Clear who wrote “Atomic Habits”. This is the “DON’T SKIP TWICE RULE” and so important when we train our dogs. They need strong habits to feel safe – so it is up to us to make them feel this way.

For example, if you have started the Five Steps campaign and planning to keep this up – make sure you don’t skip twice. Say today, you have been able to do your ten minute training, but tomorrow, for whatever reason, it doesn’t happen, then just make sure you don’t miss the next day. It is as simple as that. Gradually you create your new habit and as I always recommend that you keep a diary, then record it and mark your dog out of 5 as to how they did. Are they sitting quicker? Responding to you better in general – good then they are beginning to listen and you are reducing their stress. If not then, make time for your dog, ten minutes training can be done anywhere and anytime – and you will both feel better for it.

Finally we have " the 1% Improvement Rule - which basically says that making 100% improvement in a single day isn't as good as making 1% improvement day by day. When you make a 1% improvement regularly, it eventually compounds, and you surpass any major leap in improvements you could make as a one-off." How do we apply that to dog training? Well this is what shaping is all about. Gradually you reward your dog for making progress towards the actual task that you want them to do. If you want to teach your dog to put away his toys, then teach him to do so - one step at a time. Maybe, by putting the toy box under his mouth to begin with when he picks up his ball, and get him to drop it into the box. Massive reward and just 1% towards the end goal. But if he gets a reward each time he does it, don't you think he will repeat it?

Over the past few months, everything has changed and we have all had to get used to some new restrictions. It has been a challenge for many of us, but also when we understand the rules, we feel a little more secure as we all know where we stand. Why not share some of your rules with us and maybe we can also use them. Be great to hear from you.


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