The Training Log
by Mark Plonsky, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2014
A training log can be useful to beginning trainer, the advanced trainer, or the trainer working on a particular problem. The way I do it is to make a grid with the days of the week in the columns and the behaviors that are being worked on in the rows.
Examples of behaviors that a beginner might work include, positions like sits and downs, stays, heeling, recalls, going into and out of the crate, etc. For the advanced trainer, the rows might be the exercises (or broken down parts there of) that the dog will have to accomplish at that level of competition. For a problem behavior, we might spell out the steps we believe need to be taken to solve the problem and begin working on them. We could then modify the plan as necessary.
The entries in the box for the behavior for a particular day might include a count of the number of times you have worked the behavior (e.g., a position). I often say that 3-5 trials makes a session. In other words, if I am teaching a dog to assume a position, I will ask it to do so 3-5 times, giving it some kind of reward each time (praise at the minimum). So, in the box of the log you could put the number of trials and sessions of that particular behavior that you have worked that day with the dog. For something like staying in a position or staying quitely in a crate, you might indicate measures of time in the box, like seconds or minutes. In some cases you want a behavior to happen quickly, in which case you might record the latency or how long it takes for the behavior to occur once the cue for it has been provided.
Keeping track of your training in this manner can be useful in seeing progress as well as seeing the areas that need more work. It will also help keep you honest on whether you are giving the dog the training it needs.
I have included a sample log below to give the general idea. Modify it to suit your needs. I have also included pdf version which will likely work best for printing. I hope the idea of a training log helps with your training.