My last post discussed the behaviors that have been the backbone of Wyrm’s training. This week I’d like to talk a little more about how I developed his particular training plan, and the value of having an overarching core goal, or meta-lesson, that all of the elements of your training plan support and teach.
Before I make any plans about what I want to teach my dogs, or how I want to teach those things, it’s critical to know what the “big lesson” I’m trying to convey to my dog is. There’s a lot of information out there about how to teach various skills, or why adding a particular behavior can be helpful. What I don’t see a lot of is discussion about what the overall goal of the training is. Most people want “a good dog” or “better behavior”, but those can’t stand as effective goals as they are too diffuse, fuzzy and subjective. How do you know if you’ve reached them? How do you measure wether a new behavior brings you closer to the goal?
This discussion isn’t geared at selling you my particular goals, but rather to consider the value of developing core goals of your own. I’ve thought a lot about what the core goal of my training is. With Wyrm, the core goal is to teach him the following life lessons:
I will protect his physical, and emotional health.
I am the source of everything he wants in life.
His behavior has consequences
The best way to access what he wants is to figure out what I want
It is wonderful when I ask him to do something, as it’s an easy opportunity to get things he wants.
Over the next several posts I’ll break down each of these meta-lessons, and discuss why I think they are important and how I instill them.