Knickers to New Year resolutions – celebrate little wins all year!

Bodie has been trained to sit calmly in the car
Bodie being a calm pup in the car – definite progress!

It must be the time of year – 29th December as I’m typing this. I’m not one for New Year Resolutions. I think any time of year is a good time to change one thing. Try to do too much and put loads of pressure on a specific time of year, like New Year, and I know I’m more likely to fail. I’m a recent fan of habit stacking – change one little thing, nail that and then tackle something else.

But I do like to step back and think about progress sometimes (when I remember, or my boyfriend reminds me!). Sometimes I give myself a bit of a hard time for not making more progress with Bodie’s training. I’m always thinking ‘oh I should be working on that with him’ or ‘I should have made more progress with this…’. And then I caught myself this week and decided to celebrate all the little things that we’ve made such great progress with. The more I thought about it over the last couple of days, the more things I could think of (#prouddogmum).

We picked Bodie up from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home on the 3rd July – so he’s been with us nearly six months. And its been tough, there’s no doubt about that. He’s a very high energy Collie Lurcher Cross – so we did know what we were letting ourselves in to. But at times we have been exhausted by him – and there’s two of us. Hats off to any solo puppy/rescue/adult dog parents!

1. He used to be very scared of anyone touching his head and especially his eyes. He’d had eye infections as a puppy and had developed a real aversion to hands near his head. We can now stroke his head and get ‘sleepy dogs’ from the corners of his eyes without any stress.

2. He also struggles having his legs and paws held, but we’re making progress with gently touching and stroking them every day. We’re building up to being able to trim his nails. Lots of pavement walking in the meantime to keep them down.

3. Bodie will now hop up into the back of the car or boot and sit ready to be clipped in. Sometimes he gets a treat, sometimes he doesn’t. To start with we always needed food to lure him in with and it took a while somedays! He’s also getting pretty good at doing a sit to have the lead or long line clipped/unclipped, going in or out of park gates and the front door.

4. He used to jump up at the kitchen worktop – a classic counter surfer! He’ll now sit back and wait for something tasty to come his way. Even roast chicken and hot dogs are safe with a little supervision 🙂

5. His recall has got better. We still need to use the long line when we’re out in parks, but he is coming back to us more often than not. And that’s progress!

6. Getting his harness and collar on didn’t used to be easy. Now he’ll pop his head through the harness and stand still while we do the clips, for a piece of kibble without any fuss.

7. Bodie is noticeably calmer at home; he used to bark at noises of neighbours coming and going, passers by in the street and generally get really excited with visitors. These things still happen but not to the same level – small wins!

8. In the last month Bodie has become a lot more affectionate. He now curls up beside us and jumps up on the bed to lie with his head on one of us. It’s the best feeling in the world!

He came to us not having been treated particularly badly, but he’d been re-homed twice and had obviously missed out on a lot of early training. He’s still prone to jumping up at people (any chance to lick someone’s face) and his recall is rather iffy if there’s dogs having fun nearby. But all of that will come in time. Training should be fun and never needs to stop. But he’s just amazing as he is. Right now. And that’s what I’m celebrating.

Do you ever stop to look at the little improvements you can see – in your dog or in you? This coming year is going to be an exciting one, that much I know. If I can change my life so much in the last nine months, what can I do in the next year – who knows!

I hope you had some fun and rest this Christmas. I look forward to sharing 2020 in some way with you.

If you haven’t found it already, I have a free group on Facebook – Pup Talk, for on-line training games, tips and canine enrichment ideas. And a friendly community of dog-minded people. Follow this link and click on the ‘Join group’ button.