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  #1  
Old 06-05-2013, 01:17 PM
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Default A training question.

Kind of a generic, broad question, but anyway...

Do you expect to see progress on whatever you are working on during EVERY training session? Or do you expect progress in an allotted amount of time (every 3 training sessions, every couple days? etc)?

At what point (how many sessions/length of time) do you get frustrated or feel that you need to alter your method/approach so that you can be successful?

More related questions as I think of them
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:36 PM
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It depends on what I'm working toward, but generally speaking if I don't see any progress at all, not even a tiny bit, in a training session, I go back and have a different strategy for the next one. Be it breaking the behavior into smaller pieces, changing my setup, taking a step back, whatever.

That's for training behaviors though. If I'm doing something like desensitizing a dog to some sort of stimulus/i, then I don't necessarily expect to see progression every session. No change is okay. I just don't want to see regression.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:51 PM
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I'm kind of a bad trainer. Or at least a lazy one. If things aren't progressing at a rate I'm happy with I'll just move on to something else. I don't keep logs. I have so many half-finished "projects" that I've stopped even trying to keep track. And then there's the natural disintegration of already-known behaviours if I've not been doing adequate booster sessions for that I keep adding onto my To Do list almost daily.

I do expect to see progress even over the course of a single training session. If I don't, I take a break from that behaviour for a period of time (somewhere between 1 hour and 1 year) and then try it again. But it's hard to say how much improvement I want (see above re: no logs). It's our jobs as handlers to set up learning opportunities in such a way as that we can allow the dog to progress. I think personal experience will dictate when a trainer feels that something is progressing super slowly (especially in more complex behaviours) and when things are stalling out and may require a different approach.

If I see that either either the dog or I are getting frustrated, I take a break (normally doing a few reps with a well-known behaviour to reinforce) and return to it later. Sometimes the dog is just not in the mood to really exert itself, sometimes I've had a long day and I'm stressed out -- I take this into consideration and will maintain my approach in future training sessions. If I don't see a noticeable improvement over 2-3 sessions I'll go back to the drawing board and modify my tactics.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:55 PM
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I agree that it kind of depends. If I'm training a trick, I often do several short sessions in one day and I generally expect to see some progress by the end of the day. BUT, sometimes I find that after a good night's sleep the dogs come back to it the next day "better" than they were when we left off, if that makes sense, so I don't worry too much if I don't see progress over the course of a day.

But regardless of progress within or between sessions, my personal rule is that if I am feeling frustrated or annoyed AT ALL, I need to stop and figure out why.

One thing I've found through the "trick of the week" threads is that taking/watching video is incredibly helpful in spotting things I'm doing imprecisely or inconsistently with my clicking, hand signals, or lures.
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:11 PM
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Nope, it's a hard thing for me to grasp still but sometimes we walk away with just an introduction & no discernible progress.

Logs? I barely remember to wear shoes to work some days.
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Old 06-05-2013, 03:13 PM
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some of the best learning happens when it appears you've regressed 10 steps in your training. At least that's what I tell myself

I do expect to see progress, it's what I like, but it certainly isn't reality. a lot of times the progress won't be seen till the next session. Tracking is a perfect example of this. You always see the results of your last training track in your next one.

I do not keep any logs, i'm sure it might help, but i'm more of a go with the flow person. I make mental notes from session to session, i forget some, am reminded of some by the dog and some aren't important enough to remember. So since I've never been one to journal or log things, I let what's in front of me, be my reminder. I'm sure I lose some time that way, but I know i'd spend more time than I should having a journal that would do me any good

My biggest concern is when to make a dog deal with the stress and work through it, when to make it easier, when to help and when to quit. My two dogs are very different in that regard.

I don't have time tables. I usually train something till it's pretty good by my standards, then just stay consistent with it during every day stuff to make it better. But i'm usually observing my dogs and making mental notes of what we need to move forward with, revisit in training etc. The trick is remembering it for when I need it
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by release the hounds View Post
some of the best learning happens when it appears you've regressed 10 steps in your training. At least that's what I tell myself

I do expect to see progress, it's what I like, but it certainly isn't reality. a lot of times the progress won't be seen till the next session. Tracking is a perfect example of this. You always see the results of your last training track in your next one.

I do not keep any logs, i'm sure it might help, but i'm more of a go with the flow person. I make mental notes from session to session, i forget some, am reminded of some by the dog and some aren't important enough to remember. So since I've never been one to journal or log things, I let what's in front of me, be my reminder. I'm sure I lose some time that way, but I know i'd spend more time than I should having a journal that would do me any good

My biggest concern is when to make a dog deal with the stress and work through it, when to make it easier, when to help and when to quit. My two dogs are very different in that regard.

I don't have time tables. I usually train something till it's pretty good by my standards, then just stay consistent with it during every day stuff to make it better. But i'm usually observing my dogs and making mental notes of what we need to move forward with, revisit in training etc. The trick is remembering it for when I need it
THIS^^^^

To add to it, if I get frustrated I immediately stop training, even if it is only for a few minutes. Put the dog away, release them to do their own thing etc and now I have to figure it out. Depending on how long it takes me to figure it out, is when I try again
I absolutely do not believe in the saying, 'end on a good note', meaning get something that you like then quit. Sometimes just stopping a session is ending on a good note. Stopping when I or the dog gets frustrated has never ruined my training but it sure has in the past to continue or trying to 'end on a good note' lol.

There is 3 stages of learning/training, progression, regressions and plateaus, they will hit at anytime and for various lengths of time. Regressions should be expected and welcomed it just means you have to work something again and retrain/learn it. The good thing is training through a regression means the training often goes faster than the first time and the behaviors are often very solid when the regression has finished

I view training as a multi level building or the Snakes and Ladders board game: I start in the basement working my way upwards one step at a time. Sometimes I might have to come back down a few steps, sometimes we are flying upwards, sometimes we bounce back down a floor or two and have to work our way back up again and sometimes we are stuck on a floor or step. If I skip steps or take the elevator? I often find my arse crashing all the way back to the basement and beyond.

And sometimes, I put that board game away (stop training) and just take a break. I often find that if I take a break and just do some fun stuff, I and my dog (or horse) are in a better frame of mind to train again. Some of those breaks can be for a few weeks, it isn't the end of the world. And refreshed minds are often more willing and eager to work again

Last edited by adojrts; 06-06-2013 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:39 AM
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For me, it greatly seems to depend on the dog.

When I'm teaching Journey something new, I expect to see quick progress in every session, because she's shown me since day one that she's a quick learner and grasps things quickly and almost effortlessly. If she's stuck on something and we're not progressing, then I know that chances are (if she's not just having an 'off' day) I need to re-look at what we're doing another time and maybe change something slightly. Maybe even leave that trick/behaviour/whatever alone for a week or so before revisiting, just so neither of us are frustrated.

With Dance I also expect quick progression and improvements in almost every training session, because she too has shown me that she's quick to catch on. I don't expect quite as much as quickly from her as I do Journey, because Dance is more frantic and doesn't think as precisely, but my expectations of them are fairly similar.

With Ripley I expect progression over multiple training sessions over a day or two. He doesn't understand shaping at all, and so it takes him a bit longer than Dance and Journ to really understand what we're doing. But once he has it, he has it.

With Keira, this is going to sound awful, but I don't expect anything at all. If there's progression within even a few days I want to jump up and down celebrating haha. She's incredibly intelligent, but not easily trainable.

If I get frustrated with any of them, I stop or don't bother training at all, because all of my dogs are sensitive of my emotions to a point. If it's something they're stuck on but I know they can get, I just take a break and re-visit. Depending on the dog, it could be later that day, in a couple days, in a week, etc. Or, sometimes I just give up entirely after it's been a very long time with no progress, but before I do that I try other methods to see if I'm just doing something wrong. But yeah, not a helpful post at all, sorry. I just don't really think about time. I just think about which dog I'm working with and what is happening with that specific dog and what we need to do.

I don't have time for training logs either haha. Dog training is my for fun, relaxing activity. I don't want to make it a job by keeping a log of our progress or lack thereof.
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:48 AM
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With Cricket I tend to expect at least some progression. She is ridiculously smart and catches on to things really quickly so if there is no progression then I'm not communicating what I want correctly. She shapes pretty well though so I usually don't have to communicate much for her to catch on.

Bamm is really REALLY smart to the point that he gets really frantic in training sessions. He tries to guess what you want as the final result instead of learning the steps and then gets frustrated when what he guesses isn't what I want. I get pretty frustrated when he gets like this so I've had to learn that when I start to get frustrated I ask for something he knows and enjoys doing, reward and then end with a game of fetch or tug. If I don't do it that way he shuts down the moment he starts to notice I'm getting frustrated and its just not good at all so ending on a positive note is huge.

A couple months ago I'd say id be happy if joey had any progression after a few sessions. He has been surprising me lately and has been more focuses and progressing quicker than usual. I think he is finally starting to understand the training game though so I'm seeing more progression.
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:51 AM
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Yes, I would expect some kind of progression in one way or another. If not, I'm probably asking for too much and need to go back and break it down more. I usually go into training sessions with a plan for how it's going to progress, so I would assume it's either bad timing or unclear criteria.
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