Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions.

It's because I don't like to fail. And I can't remember the last time that I actually made a resolution and stuck to it. At least not one officially proclaimed as a New Year's resolution. So I would say that for the past decade or so, I have simply not made one. It's much easier to avoid disappointment this way.

But this year, I went ahead and made a resolution. I blame my Book Club. They have me reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, which is a book all about the various resolutions that the author made over the course of an entire year in order to be a happier person. I'm honestly not sure that I buy all that Rubin is selling, but she at least made me think about stuff enough to be willing to face the possibility of failure by making a resolution this year. Which is more than I could say for Elizabeth Gilbert's efforts to inspire me through her gluttonous, yogic, love-stricken attempts to find herself in Eat, Pray, Love.

At any rate, the resolution that I made this year is a big one - which means grandiose opportunity to fail, but you might as well go big or go home, right? It's to make a to-do list, and to plan to actually, you know, do the things that are on it. So hubby and I sat down on January 2 and wrote a "to do" list of all of the projects that we want to accomplish this year - from small things like "install blinds in the guest rooms" to bigger things like "redo the laundry room". Then we took out a calendar and started to map out when we would do each project.

One of the items on our to-do list was to get serious - and I mean really serious - about the Beast's training. We know that we've done some good things with him, but we also know that we've slacked in a few areas. Which is probably why we haven't tackled the monster demon of maniacal barking at the door. So following on his sojourn with Alpha Trainer, we have enrolled him in hard core training, which begins next Sunday. But we also decided to go back to basics with him, and do some of the things that she told us to do when we had our first consultation with her back in June (items on our to-do list which we never got around to because we are just like that).

So the very first item that I got to cross off of our to-do list was also the easiest (begging the question as to why it took us so long to get around to it). Alpha Trainer suggested that we figure out the words we wanted to use as commands for the Beast, write out a list, and post it to our fridge. That way, one of us isn't saying "drop it" and the other saying "leave it" when we are trying to get him to let go of his favourite toy. Ultimately, this makes his training more consistent, and avoids confusion for the little guy as he tries to learn the rules of the household.

So here they are. I am writing them down in this blog not because there is any magic to them, but simply because (a) knowing me, I will lose the list and have to try to recreate it at some point, and (b) it makes me feel like I've succeeded at fulfilling a portion - albeit a minor one - of my New Year's resolution.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Commands for the Beast

"Off" - To remove his paws from a surface or person (i.e. "off" the kitchen" or "off" when he jumps on a person at the door).

"Out" - To remove his mouth from an object (i.e. food, something he should not have in his mouth, a toy, another dog).

"Ah-Ah" - A general correction word to get his attention and "snap him out of it" when he is doing something he should not be doing or when he is disobeying a command.

"Yes" - Praise word to acknowledge his good behaviour.

"Click-Click" - (I don't know how to spell this, but it is the sound people make out of the side of their mouths when they are working with horses. The other option was the kissy sound, but hubby doesn't like the idea of making this sound in a public place like the dog park... Wuss...) To get his attention and to get him to look you in the eye.

"Break" - Release word to release him from a position like "sit" or "stay" or "bed".

"Hustle" - To get him to come back towards us when he is off leash and lagging behind or too far ahead.

"Come" - To come straight to us.

"Stay" - To stay in one spot until released.

"Stop" - To stop coming toward us.

"Take it" - To allow him to take something in his mouth, like food or a toy.

"Bed" - To go to his bed and settle down.

"Crate" - To go to his crate.