I appear to be running into a problem with my goal setting and planning, and it is all in my head.
It seems that I am able to either have fun training with my dogs, dabbling around in whatever seems appealing that day, OR I can work towards goals I have set. If I have a goal I tend to get militant about it, putting so much pressure on both my dogs and myself that it sucks all of the fun out of the process. Training plans turn training into a chore for me, and make me anxious and demanding towards my dogs such that we ‘stay on schedule’. I become unaccommodating and inflexible. I get extremely frustrated with myself and my dogs in a way that I don’t when we are ‘just training for fun’. Generally, I become a trainer and a person that I do not want to be. This tends to come out when I am working on manners behaviours as well (the dog should ‘know’ this! Except that obviously they shouldn’t, because I haven’t trained it. But I should have trained it if I had my priorities right, and I didn’t and now I am frustrated at my dog when I know it is not their fault but mine. But instead of making a plan and working on it, I sit and be upset with myself. Not a useful behaviour chain). But it is all supposed to be fun! The logic part of my brain understands this, but the rest just can’t seem to follow.
Part of this problem, I think, is compounded by the fact that I just can’t seem to narrow down my focus with my dogs and decide what sports/activities to focus on. Then I get overwhelmed by ‘needing’ to do ALL THE THINGS by next week.
So shouldn’t I just be able to do the things we find fun? Rally today, mimicry tomorrow, disc tricks next week. There is nothing inherently wrong with just chasing butterflies and having a good time with my dogs after all. Except that this is another thing the logic side understands, but the rest of my brain can’t get behind. If we aren’t working towards some concrete achievement or performance, I have trouble seeing the point and following through. Even though I understand that ‘the point’ is to have a mutually enjoyable time with my best friends.
My mindset is very poor. I need to pick a goal and stick with it, and be able to find that process enjoyable. I need to be able to make a plan, but be happy to change and adapt it to where my dogs and I are right now. I need to decide on something to work on and not get distracted by all the other activities that we ‘should’ be working on too. This is what I would like to see, I’m just not sure I have the tools yet to get myself there.