Part 4. Evaluate Training.
A common mistake some trainers make is forgetting to evaluate their training. As a result they continue to do the same thing over and over even if it isn’t working.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
There are a lot of things to evaluate after a training session.
- Did you make notes when training or immediately following? You would be surprised how much is forgotten in a short period of time. Notes help you plan for future sessions and keep you from falling into bad habits or routines.
- Did your training plan work? Did you plan too much or too little for your session? While we all want to train everything in one session, most of the time it is not practical and may often be too much for your dog. Organize your sessions so you have just enough time to accomplish what you have planned. Be aware of problems that prevent you from having the time to train what you have planned.
- Do you need to make changes to your future training plans? Did you reinforce and review foundations? Did you add enough or too much proofing? Did you think about going to a new location? When planning a session, make sure to include reviews of foundations as well as proofing skills.
- If the session did not go well–what happened? Where you able to fix the issue and if so how? If your dog never makes a mistake, he is not really learning. Problems are a part of the learning process and you need to be prepared to handle any situation. Be proactive in your planning. Think about what might go wrong and have training solutions ready before you take your dog out of his crate.
- How long was your session? Did you train too long? Was your dog tired or did he became unfocused? Always end your session with your dog wanting more. This will keep him looking forward to training instead of dreading it!
- Did you use transitions? Were they smooth? Did you use a variety of methods? If you plan training sessions well, any down time will be kept to a minimum. You will be able to set equipment, move efficiently from one skill to another and rehearse attentive behaviors throughout the session.
- Did you keep the session fun and motivating? What was your rate of reinforcement? Did you use a variety of reinforcements? Did you use a balance between food and toys? Variety is the spice of life! When training, take a number of different toys that your dog loves and a mixed bag of treats. Use some of high, medium, and low value treats for your dog. He will always be surprised when receiving reinforcements.
- Did you video tape your session? Recording sessions is a great way to assess how your training is progressing. It will help you see issues you were not aware of or missed during training and will sharpen your eye for seeing problems in future sessions.
There is a lot to consider when making a training plan. Take your time and consider your goals while planning and ALWAYS evaluate your training!
We hoped you enjoyed this series on ways to improve your training. Please feel free to contact us with questions!
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