My mentor, the iconic Bob Bailey, once told me that he believes the most important advancement in the world of animal training during his illustrious career was the advancement of the simplicity of video.
What do the words “video your training” mean for you? Are they words you don’t want to hear, or words you have embraced? It can be a big step to start videoing your training, but once you have taken that leap of faith and given it a go, you will be asking yourself “why didn’t I do this sooner?”.
One of the biggest things that can stop people from videoing is how critical they are of themselves. They don’t like reviewing their own videos as they look negatively, rather than being able to take an objective viewpoint. Sometimes we are our own worst critics.
To help with this, I’m sharing some tips that will help you with using video as one of your best dog training tools, rather than something you actively avoid. It can take a while to become comfortable, but once you start, you won’t look back. Heck, I’m so comfortable with videoing now that I’ve shared video of me training in my bathroom wearing pyjamas … more than once!
I’ve split reviewing video into three phases with each being important to the overall process. I normally watch only Phase One in real time. This is more about me “getting over it” if there are discouraging bits to review.
Phase One: Review and Dump the Emotional Baggage
Phase One is for you to watch the movie, enjoy what you see, or dump emotional baggage. Purge any negative feelings about what you wore, how you looked, or what you said and did. Watch the video once in real time to get a feel for the next phase.
Use this phase to let go of negative feelings and remind yourself that by videoing, you are doing something that will exponentially increase the joy that you and your dog have together and dramatically decrease any frustrations you might have. Give yourself a high five!
Phase Two: Confidence Building
Phase Two is the Confidence Building phase. Improvement happens the quickest from a place of confidence, so it is vital you remind yourself of what you and your dog did well.
Pick out three highlights for yourself and your dog of things you liked. Now you might be thinking “but Susan, I never like anything when I watch my training videos”, so here are some ideas on what to look for and highlight … dog training skills that looked great, your dog’s responses, your mechanics, your joy together, how you recovered from an error, your connection with your dog, your flow, confidence or celebration, your session timing, your use of balance breaks, your transition into and out of training, your delivery of reinforcers, your set up, how lovely your dog looks.
There is always something good if you are looking for the good. Looking for the good is a habit to create for yourself, so it comes naturally. The more practice you have, the easier it will become.
Phase Three: Constructive Review
Phase Three is the Constructive Phase. Here is where you can put together effective training plans for you and your dog to create a more successful future.
This critical stage may require you to re-watch the details that will help you put together a plan. Evaluate if there is an obvious reason why your dog did x-y-z, why you made specific decisions or how you can change your plan in the future. Focus on how you move, your set up, your transitions to work, your connection to your dog, your delivery of reinforcement, the time of your session and use of breaks and the cues you used.
This phase should be objective. Just observe as if it were not you and your dog. If it were a video sent to you by a friend or student, what tips would you give on review?
Videoing your training will help you become your own coach. I have successfully overcome training challenges by reviewing my videos in detail and then building a plan of action. Video your training sessions, classes, workshops and competitions if you participate in sports. Open the door to learn more from your videos. Celebrate all the great things, celebrate your progress, and review your video objectively using it as the great tool it is to advance your training and relationship with your dog. Yes, videoing can be a learning curve, but give you and your dog the chance to experience all the benefits, and be patient and kind with yourself.
Still not convinced? Not only is video a brilliant training tool, but in videoing you are creating a wonderful resource for yourself of memories to treasure.
Would you like to give videoing a chance now? If you are videoing (and I know that many of you are!), what are your top tips? Let me know in the comments.
Today I am grateful for the ease and simplicity of videoing and for all the amazing memories I have captured on video.
Update, there’s now a follow up blog post with Practical Videoing Tips (it’s one you wrote!).