Well, since Cricket turned ONE I feel like we are in a new phase. It sort of made me feel like getting things organized and doing some fall cleaning. I spent the last two weeks really cleaning out the agility yard and repairing the equipment, getting rid of what we do not use, cleaning the frontyard and cleaning out my training logs.
I feel like over the years I have been able to come up with a system for keeping track of my training that I can keep up with because it is quick and easy, but still gives me info that I need. With three dogs I can get confused. I am sure I am not the only one that sometimes finds it easy to get into routinues and forget some training that needs to be done until I show up at a trial and remember we have not done a panel jump in a long time....or I can tend to do things that are easy and fun and maybe not train some things that might be harder because we really need to do more of them. By record keeping it is easy to see right away what skills we are working hard and what skills we have not worked in awhile or like for the relaxation protocol we can keep straight where everyone is at.
Thought I would share what I do and give everyone a peek into my notebooks. I actually cleaned everything out and started with a fresh slate.
First off I have a small notebook, THIS IS THE BOOK I USE FOR MOST OF MY RECORD KEEPING, it is just a presentation notebook I got at Target that came all set up with the dividers.
I printed the front of my notebook with the bordergirls names and I stick stickers with inspirational quotes or thoughts or ideas as I find them. Right now it is blank because I just cleaned out my notebook for my fall cleaning, so I am looking forward to finding some things I want to paste onto my notebook.
EACH DOG GETS FOUR PAGES IN THE NOTEBOOK OF THEIR PERSONAL RECORDS ;-).
On the first page I have two sheets in a page protector. The first sheet is a sheet to remind me of the CORE foundation exercises that I feel should be worked A LOT. Things like Crate Games, It's Yer Choice, Restrained Recalls, the 1-2-3 Game, etc...
I have seven games that are earmarked to be worked. I find by looking at that list all the time I remember to work them into daily life. So I might be getting the dogs dinner ready in the kitchen and drop food and play Its Yer Choice with the dogs, or I will be walking through the house and remember to grab a few treats and as a dog comes to my side in my reinforcement zone I will say "yes" and treat.
I think if I was not flipping past tha list once or twice a day...I would forget to do them as often as I do. On the other side of that sheet I have a list/description of the 37 games we did in the Susan Garrett recall course, because most of those were things that I want to continue working on and great foundation exercises. The list with the description helps me remember what each exercise is ;-).
Next there are three different sections. One for each dog. Each dog got assigned a color because I can be a ding bat and sometimes record the wrong dog on the wrong page, so all of Crickets flow sheets are red, all of Breeze's are blue and all of Lizzies are green.
This is the part I LOVE about my notebook. I made up flow sheets, one has all the exercises from the recall course, one has just an agility flow sheet with all the obstacles I try to keep track of training for, one is a relaxation protocol sheet, and I have a little flow sheet to keep track of tricks or shaping exercises. Sometime during the day I just go and make a check mark by the things we have done. It might look complicated but it takes all of ten seconds and makes me look at the list and the check off sheet and remember what we have not been working and notice what we have worked hard on. That way I remember to add in the training exercises that I would most likely forget if I was not keeping records.
CRICKETS RECALL EXERCISE FLOW SHEET-THE CORE EXERCISES ARE HIGHLIGHTED SO I CAN MAKE SURE WE ARE WORKING THOSE LOTS:
BREEZIES AGILITY LOG-I MAKE A MARK IN THE CATEGORY OF TRAINING AND THEN I HAVE IT SORT OF BROKEN DOWN IF I WANT TO CHECK OFF THAT SAY WE WORKED TIRE JUMPS, OR THE CHUTE
NEXT WE HAVE THE RELAXATION PROTOCOL SHEET, NO SPECIAL COLORS, BUT A SLOT FOR EACH DAY AND SOME SPACE TO RECORD ANY COMMENTS AND I PUT INFO LIKE THAT WE ARE WORKING IN THE LIVING ROOM OR FRONT YARD, ETC ON THE TOP OF THE FORM.
LAST IN EACH SECTION THERE IS A FLOW SHEET FOR RECORDING SHAPING AND TRICK SESSIONS I got this flow sheet from Susan Garrett and Say YEs, I think it was on the 2x2 DVD.
There are four pages for each dog, and three sections one for each dog. In the back of my little notebook I have two calenders I found at Target that fit into the notebook. I use these, the red for one Cricket, and the blue one for Breeze and Lizzie. When Cricket is not learning so many things at once I will only have one calendar, but right now there is a lot of learning going on. The Calenders are to record IDEAS, THINGS WE NEED TO TRAIN, MAYBE JUST GOOD THOUGHTS. So I can flip to those and be reminded maybe of what I had thought about working on the days before.
Now I have three totally seperate notebooks that I do not use all the time, one for each dog and you guessed it in their colors.
Crickets has the Leslie McDevitt exercise written on the front that says before you train take a second, close your eyes and
FIRST THINK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER SAW YOUR DOG,
SECOND THINK ABOUT SOMETHING YOUR DOG DOES THAT MAKES YOU PROUD,
THIRD THINK OF SOMETHING YOUR DOG DOES THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH!
I really like to remember that because it helps me to keep it light and keep the training we are about to do in perspective-it is not rocket science and the fate of the world does not rest with what we do in any one day, this is meant to be fun-so I always want to remember that!
Each notebook has a picture I love of my dogs!
In these notebooks I can get more in depth with record keeping if I want. I have each notebook seperated into sections, so there is a section on recall/foundation games, one on contacts, one for jumps and jumping, one for the teeter, weaves, start lines, tunnels, handling, and one for shaping or tricks. Each section has some graph paper if I want to draw out courses, and just some notebook paper.
If I have a check in my small notebook under Sept 28 saying I worked on contacts...I can go to the big notebook and make notes about what happened with our contact training that day. That way I can go back and see a flow sheet of what is going on with that obstacle and find what was going on that day if I choose to record more about it. I do not always go back and record more info, usually I just have the flow sheet, but for Cricket who is just learning, or say like Breeze who is having a weave problem, or even Lizzie who I record more about her foundation/recall stuff because that is my biggest focus with her... I can go through and really record as much as I want to help figure out what is going on and keep us on track.
I do have several flow sheets for teaching weaves that I got from the 2X2 DVD on a clip board for Cricket when she starts her 2x2 and for Breeze while we are trying to work on the weave entries-so those are extra sheets I take out to train with.
ANOTHER THING THAT I FIND VERY HELPFUL THAT IS IN THE FRONT OF MY NOTEBOOK IS MY DISTRACTION LIST FOR EACH DOG. I rate as many distractions as I can think of for each dog with a rating from 1-10. I thought this was stupid when I first did it but it really helps to remember what level of distractions I can add and just keeps me more aware of where each dog is at. I have to rework the distraction list fairly frequently. I also have a list with rewards for each dog rated with their most valuable to least valuable. I put things like LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW for Lizzie, which suprisingly is a VERY VALUABLE reward. One thing I realized as I made my distraction list is that Lizzie has LOTS of things that are 9-10 on her list, and lots of things that are 1-3, it is weird, but not many things that are just middle of the road. So how like Liz is that she either can handle monster distractions and doesnt care or....things send her over the top, not much middle ground. Cricket has a lot of middle distractions, not much that sends her totally over the top. Breeze has a bunch of things on the lower levels of the distraction list, and just one or two that are 10's and can really get to her, kids that she is afraid of or the ball which drives her over the top, or dogs she knows running around or doing things like agility. Doing my distraction list really gave me a clearer picture of each of my dogs personality.