What does 2012 hold in store for Maisy and I? Greatness, I’m sure of it! I have no idea what form that greatness will take, but I'm hoping it will look something like this...
1. Teach Maisy 12 tricks.
This was one of my goals last year, and I failed miserably at it. But Maisy loves to train, and anyway, we need to have something to show to friends and family members who just don’t appreciate a flashy heeling pattern.
I have a few ideas for tricks- like a bow, chin down, play dead, take it/hold it/give it with a variety of objects, spinning, leg weaves, crawling- but I would love to hear your ideas, too! Does your dog have a cool trick? Please, tell me about it in the comments.
2. Improve my heeling handling skills.
Although I took a class on heeling handling skills, I have yet to really use what I learned. Some of the moves are still difficult for me to do. It’s not that they’re awkward, exactly, it’s more that I just need to practice them so they’re second nature.
As I learn the skills, I also need to take time to integrate them with my work with Maisy. Some things don’t need to be explicitly taught to her, but others do, especially things like slow pace vs. halts. We're both going to be better at heeling this year.
3. Complete the Relaxation Protocol.
If there is anything I’m likely to fail at doing, it’s this one. I worked on the Relaxation Protocol once before, and oh my gosh, but it was mind-numbingly boring. Maisy probably doesn’t need to do the protocol, but I want to work on it for two reasons.
First, we haven’t worked on it since she started taking medication, and I want to see how that changes things. I imagine we’ll have a very different experience this time around. And second, I frequently advise students to do the protocol with their dogs, so I feel like I need to follow my own advice, you know?
4. Work on some Open and/or Utility Skills.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, since we haven’t even completed our novice-level obedience title, but I’d like to start working on open and/or utility exercises this year. Well, we’ve already started working on some- like retrieves, the drop on recall, and directed jumping- but we haven’t worked on others at all.
I feel like we have a pretty good handle on how to start working on most of the open/utility skills… except go outs and scent articles. I know there are a ton of different ways to train both, and I’d love to hear how you taught your dog’s go out and/or scent articles. Which method did you use? Did you like it? Would you use it again? What were the benefits and drawbacks?
5. Take (and hopefully pass!) the CPDT exam.
I’m a little nervous to post this one publicly, but here it is. I’m hoping to take the CPDT-KA exam in the fall testing period. I don’t need it, strictly speaking, but I like the idea and the added credibility it lends me. And besides, this gives me a very good excuse for going to seminars!
If you are a CPDT (or if you’re in the process of studying for it), I’d love some book recommendations. I have a pretty good handle on learning theory, but am mildly concerned about some of the other sections. Let me know which books you’ve found helpful!
Anyway… this is what I’m hoping 2012 will bring. It might not, of course. So much can change over the course of a year that it’s hard to know what to expect. Still, this is the direction I'm hoping it will go. And if it doesn't? No big deal. As long as Maisy and I have had fun together, that's all that matters.