Tracking your training is a really important step to ensure that your dog is progressing in something you want to improve. This is particularly important if the behaviour you’re addressing is one that you find undesirable because it gives you an objective measure of improvement. This means that you don’t feel like the behaviour is getting worse when you’re having a bad day with other aspects of life, or better when you’re having a good day. Tracking takes the emotion out of how the behaviour impacts you and clearly tells you whether or not the behaviour is getting better or worse. It’s also a brilliant way to keep up the motivation to train difficult behaviours when you see the progress you’re making with it!
The most important thing to realise is that tracking needs to be something that works for you. It can be lovely to have detailed notes on how every individual session has gone with details of the location, time and other specifics of the training session. However, if this is too complicated for you to fill out after each session and it doesn’t end up being done then this isn’t going to be helpful! Simpler ideas for tracking can literally be ticks on a calendar to represent that progress was made or smiley faces for good sessions and sad faces for bad sessions. If you find this works for you, you can always add some notes under the tick or smiley face to provide more information on the days you have time (or remember) to track your training.
Other methods include putting numbers onto the behaviour you’re training. For example, want to track how your loose lead walking training is going? Use the 300 peck method to see how far you can make it without reinforcing your dog and write down your maximum number of steps between reinforcements. Or, if you’re working with a reactive dog and you’d like general data on how the reactive your dog is being, record how many times your dog has reacted that day. This type of data collecting is really good for making yourself feel better on those bad days where you feel like your reactive dog has gone back a million paces and you’re back to square one. It will show you the gradual decline of reactions your dog has had and the number of days you’ve managed to go without any at all!
Tracking is also really helpful to give trainers for ongoing support. If we’re working through a behaviour modification plan together and the number of reactions are increasing then that’s important information that we need to address as soon as possible. Something about the plan isn’t working and we need to change tactics to set both you and the dog up for success again. Having your sessions tracked means the difference between having a bad week and feeling like the training is all going down the drain or genuinely knowing that the training isn’t working and that something needs to be changed – very helpful when addressing something emotional like reactivity!
Do you track your training? If so, how? Would you like to? What behaviours would you want to track? Would you be interested in a tracking your training seminar for pet dog owners? Let us know down below!