I have one email group and one trainer who asks its members/students to submit their goals each year. I like thinking about both short and long term training goals, so this has been fun to do each year.
So how do you set goals? Jenn Crank of IncrediPAWS said her goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based). I really liked that model.
I also think you need to look at long-term and short-term goals separately. Long-term goals include "career" goals for each dog. I start out a list of titles I want my dogs to have when they retire. Then I think about progression toward each different goal. In balancing multiple sports, which sport am I going to concentrate in first and which will wait until the end of the dog's career? Those are the big picture goals when I bring a dog home. Those goals rarely see big adjustments, other than in the timeline it takes to achieve them.
Next come the shorter-term goals, yearly, monthly, quarterly and weekly. This is where I add my resources into the mix, as well as balancing multiple sports. I start big picture and then work my way down. So, at the end of the year, what titles do I want my dogs to achieve? How much money and training time will that take? If I'm looking toward pushing to a big title, which other trials will fall into the background this year to make room for that accomplishment?
And goals don't have to be about titles, they should include training. For instance one of my big goals for Devon this year is to have a confident teeter performance. One of my goals for Page is to have her agility obstacle performances solid by the middle of the year.
Once you have your yearly and quarterly goals set, then the training begins. How do you organize your training? Do you journal? Do you plan out your training sessions each week? How do you track your progress?
I plan my training session on the calendar about 10 days out. I look at my work schedule and coordinate with weather.com to see what days would be best for outdoor work. Then I list on the top of each page in its own unique color what training session Page and Devon will have each day.
For daily training sessions, I use a checklist to track my progress. I write out all the steps or progressions of each thing I'm training and put an "X" beside it each time I train it. This let's me see at a glance where I'm going. And if I run into problems, I can look back and see where we might have spent too little time and revisit that area.
So, what are the girls' goals for 2010? Ok, I'll be really brave and post them! For Devon, I would like to get her VST in the first half of 2010. This is a huge tracking goal, so we'll start gearing up for it in late February.
In agility, I'd like Devon to earn her AXJ and if not her MXJ be on the way to it with most of her legs. Agility is one of those sports that often has to take a backseat to field and tracking, so she will only trial periodically. Devon's other big agility goal is to have a confident teeter by fall.
In field, I plan to work drills and concepts to set her up for her Master Hunter. I'd like to enter at least one or two tests this fall, just to get our feet wet. And this leaves obedience; poor obedience is once again getting the "leftover time." Our goals for obedience are simply training goals. I'd like to solidify Devon's Open obedience exercises and teach the utility exercises. I plan to continue to work her precision heeling.
And what about Page? Well, Page will also be pursuing her VST in the first half of 2010. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to make a tough decision about whether to pursue Devon's MH or VST in 2010. What made the decision is that both Devon and Page are working VST, and I didn't want either of their tracking to stagnate.
Page's other titling goals for 2010 include getting her JH and WC in the fall. This will take a significant amount of training during the summer, but I think they are achievable goals. With her upcoming field training, she should be on her way to transition to Senior work by fall. This will set the girls up to dovetail field work in Senior and Master very well in 2011.
Page's training goals also include agility and obedience. For agility, I'd like her equipment/obstacle training to be complete by summer, so she can begin to sequence by fall. If I see any fall off in her agility performance due to her other sports, I'll back off her agility training to a maintenance level. In obedience, I am currently teaching heads up heeling and other novice concepts (fronts, finishes, etc.). I will maintain those skills throughout the year as we shift focus to other sports.
Those are our 2010 goals. I'd love to hear about everyone else's 2010 goals! Leave me a comment so I don't feel so alone in my planning!