Set Up For Success: Achieve your Canine Zen



“Set (insert your dog’s name) up for Success!!” – This is one of my favorite mantras that I use to help clients create happy life experiences with their canine. It absolutely applies in every situation, whether we are working on basics commands with a young puppy or with an older, street-smart rescue.Seems straightforward, easy even, doesn’t it? In many ways, it is. And, it is well worth having “set up for success” become a regular phrase in your household. The more you think about it, the more you will realize that it applies to nearly every area of your canine’s life. Training, playing, relaxing, alone time… the mantra applies. The challenge, however, is that you have to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” It is a constant added layer of effort on top of your T.A.P. (training, appropriate activity and positivity) regimen.

Think about the phrase in two categories of reference: The first is: “How can I make this ‘safer’ for my canine?” The second is: “How can I make it ‘positive,’ or ‘more fun’?” To further explain this concept, I’ll use the example of leaving your canine at home when you run out to do a quick errand…

The scenario is familiar to all of us. We have to go out to a store that doesn’t allow non-service certified dogs inside, and we make the choice of leaving them at home. Whether it is for 5 minutes or a half hour, this is your chance to “set them up for success.” Before you leave, stop! Take a look around… Is the room messy? Are there papers on the ground or maybe a dirty plate on the coffee table? Leaving your canine in a clean environment that minimizes dangerous situations they “just can’t seem to resist” appears to be a no-brainer, but as you look around, I’m sure you will notice things you haven’t seen before. Maybe you have a canine that is working through a licking fetish. Have you thought about using covers on wall plugs to avoid a nasty electrical shock?

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Let’s take it outside, too. Maybe you are at a local park working on a your dog’s recall behaviour, but she just loves to play with other dogs. Setting her up for a successful training session would be to begin training in an empty field, with no other distractions to impede the recall. Each successful trip would earn increased time with other dogs during sessions. If you feel that your training is unsuccessful, consider external factors that could be affecting your sessions.

So, this is where your “A-ha!” moment should kick in. Incorporate the mentality of “set up for success” everywhere and every time. No canine behaves exactly the same as the next. All dogs, based on their experiences in life, will have different strengths and weaknesses. With a dog who just can’t seem resist counter surfing when left alone, or who cannot go out without saying hello to everyone… carefully consider these “weak” areas, and think: “How can I change what I’m doing to help them succeed?” Keeping your counters clean or choosing quieter times for walks, are set-up actions that increase your positive interactions together. The more positive it is for you both, the more successful you will each feel, the more trust you will build and the tighter your bond will become.

Want to learn about achieving your Zen with my “set up for success” mantra? (Or if new-age isn’t your thing) how to doggy-proof and enhance fun in your home and yard for unsupervised time? Talk to me about out how Canines By Design can help with an integrated consultation for your specific needs.

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