It’s winter here in Ontario –  it’s been cold, then mild, then snowy, then rainy – a real mess of a season in many ways.  I value winter – it gives me time to think, and reminds me to appreciate  the other seasons we get too.

That said it’s a hard time of year to fit everything in that needs to be done. I hand haul water in extreme cold for the horses, and the old little dog needs to be well bundled up to go out. Between work,  farm work, online work and writing  the dogs get less work and less play than usual at this time of year. They run to the barn with me and we train in tiny little spurts – but most training is review and solidifying things they know. Very little new get introduced right now. and you know something?

I have come to believe that’s a good thing.  A break is good for us all. It gives me time to decide what areas need polish and where I need to back up and try another approach. It allows me to set some outcome goals and then  backwards map and add some process goals to get me there. It lets me lie on the couch and snuggle dogs and be fully present with them.

I can watch inspirational trainers and magical dogs and figure out what I aspire too. Prioritizing what each dog needs to be happy and well trained takes time.  Deciding what my focus will be for 2018 is a good way to pass time while driving behind a snow-plow or watching our fire roar.

If you are feeling stuck and demotivated ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is one big outcome goal you would like to accomplish with your dog in 2018? It may be a title or a specific skill …
  • Why do you want to achieve this?
  • What are at least five process goals (steps to reach your outcome goal) you will need to make your outcome possible? (some of the answers might surprise you – time, money, equipment may be as needed as training)
  • What is one process goal you can accomplish in the next two weeks?
  • How can you measure and record your progress with these goals?
  • Who will support you in your endeavor and  how can you let them know what you need from them?

Remember to balance the rest of your life against these goals. Can you realistically achieve the outcome goal heading this project? Probably. But if it doesn’t work you will still have accomplished plenty of the process goals that fill the steps to get you further ahead than you are today.

Go ahead. Think about the future. Plan your goals and aim for them. This is your life!!



Categories: Mentaltraining


I've been lucky enough to work with animal sports people (dog and horse) improving their mental game, planning and goal setting and accomplishment. I work with dogs and their people in all sports though my personal passions are agility and scent work. I live on a farm in Ontario, Canada with 5 dogs, 10 horses and various other critters.


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