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Using your training diary

What you can do with your Training Diary

  1. Record your training sessions.
  2. List the behaviour your dog “knows” … but to what extent?
  3. What behaviours are you working on?
  4. What is the precise behaviour you are looking for and getting?
  5. By what means are you trying to get the behaviour?
  6. What is your current criterion?
  7. What increments are you planning to use?
  8. How far along are you with the Acquisition stage?
  9. When will you introduce the cue?
  10. Will you modify your cue? e.g. transition from lure hand movement to abbreviated hand signal.
  11. What does each cue actually mean?
  12. What cue(s) does your dog respond to?
  13. Does your dog confuse one cue for another? (Stimulus Discrimination).
  14. How far along are you in the Stimulus Control stage? Four aspects of Stimulus Control.
  15. Have you started to generalise the behaviour (Stimulus Generalisation)?
  16. What Release cues are you using, and what do they mean?

Record keeping

You can use your Training Diary to keep a record of what you do in this course. It’s amazing how quickly you forget where your dog used to be at once you have done some training.

Make brief notes on your training sessions, both in class and at home (or anywhere else).

Note particularly any time you “up the ante” or move on to another step in the training process. For example,

  1. lured your dog’s head down, reward X3
  2. introduced cue “sad” followed by luring head down, reward X3
  3. gave cue “sad” and paused – dog did not lower head – immediately followed through with luring head down, reward
  4. gave cue “sad” and paused – dog did lower head – no lure hand movement given – reward!

Note how many times the lure hand movement was needed and how many times the dog responded without being lured.

AIM: to reliably get your dog to lower his or her head in response to voice cue “sad”.


Use the back of the book to list your cues and what they mean (give this some thought).

You can also list the cues/behaviours which you want to work on.

Pay attention to what Level of Control the cue belongs to (you will learn more about this later). For example, does “heel” mean precision and attentiveness as required in the obedience ring, or does it mean “relaxed walk on a loose lead”? How many different walking cues do you have (or need)?

Another confused area for many people is “stay” – again, are you using it in the obedience ring? If so, don’t use it in everyday life situations, if you just mean “wait at the front door while I go to the letterbox, but you are allowed to move your feet” because you will erode your dog’s ring performance. Don’t use it in our classes when a relaxed settle down is required, or when (as we will discuss with trust exercises) the dog is allowed to move under certain circumstances.

Note also when a behaviour is a “default option” which means “do it as a matter of course, unless asked to do otherwise”. So for example, take food gently, unless asked to “kill” (e.g. a tug toy). Saying “gentle” implies to me that taking food  with a chomp is the default behaviour (“chomp my fingers unless I say “gentle”). I prefer the dog to take food gently as a default option. The consequence if the dog chomps is some feedback in the form of “ouch” (not the use of “gentle”) plus holding onto the food so that the dog doesn’t get it. The dog gently nuzzling or licking results in “open sesame” and “take it”.


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