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!).
Next Update: If you’d like some extra motivation and inspiration to start becoming comfortable with videoing your training, we’re including a Shaped by Dog podcast video on the topic below for you. If you’d like the transcript and eBook, it’s over at Shaped by Dog Episode 133 to download.
I would like the e book on videoing my dog
is there a way that I can learn how to video and down load ? I need help.
I just can’t figure out where to put the camera and get it to the right angle.
Thank you Susan, I do find myself being very self critical when viewing the videos, which in turn makes me either avoid videoing or training. I try to follow these suggestions but struggle with “progress not perfection “
I’m not going to lie, I set the camera up not always at the best angle( my backside is huge) but I can see my mistakes, I can see my dogs progress. I can fine tune what we as a team are doing correctly and what we are doing wrong. Most of the time it’s not the dogs.
I really appreciate the helpful way you share about going through videos. I know it will help guide my. Replays.
I have not been a big fan of videos until I lost my border collie in a car accident. Today I am so happy to have some videos and mainly loads of pictures of him!
During agility training/competitions we often try to video tape our team members – it is so funny to watch how one can be wrong – sometimes I am 100% of having done/said one thing and on the video tape I will see I did give a wrong/no order and was in a completely different position than I thought I was…
I have been taping my practices for 20 years (it has gotten a lot easier with modern inventions, iPhone, iPad and GoPro). Over the years I have found that NOT zooming in allows you to see exactly when the issue started (what caused it—its usually not where I think) and secondly I started taping from above. It took a little work to figure out how to do this economically and so it was not in my way.
I purchased a flag pole holder attached to my wooden fence and used a selfie stick inserted in it to get a birds eye view and is easy to put my old iPhone in and out of.
The bonus is that I have located flaws that happened before we actually missed that jump (I set the line improperly prior to the mistake that showed up).
The biggest thing I have learned from taping everything (no I dont keep all of it but most) is that what I think I am doing and what I am actually doing is just like those photos on FB, when I freeze frame something it tells the real story not the one I told myself.
I love seeing how my dogs learn and how we progress. I value my video of my old dogs so much that I store a lot of my video in the safety deposit box at the bank!
I’ve learned so much from videotaping our training. It’s easy to forget how far I’ve come til I look back at videos from 2009 or 2011 and see, oh yeah, I’m a better trainer now! I also love the memories of dogs. I see my Tigerlily when she was a baby going insane over a chicken, and now, 15 years old, fine with chickens! Organizing and storing videos is my headache? Going to go to the Apple store and get a workshop. I have so many videos now!
I’ve just recently really started to embrace videoing my training. I’ve realised how useful it is for reviewing.unfortunately I didn’t have my camera today and realised how important that video is for genuinely knowing how our training went. Without it I’m sort of guessing. It has become such an important part of the process of helping me plan what to work on to. I’ll be making sure I have my camera next time!
I cant believe how timely this is. I am at the AKC Nationals in Tulsa OK right now and I purchased the video package for all my runs. In our first run today, I made several mistakes. I felt very bad and wondered how I could ever watch the video and relive my bad run. Thank you for writing this to me so that I can view it as a learning experience.
It seems so simple now, but, I struggled with where to put the camera. Watching Susa with the camera simply put on the floor or ground, makes it so much easier than trying to balance it on a chair or whatever. Also surprised at how much it gets from that perspective.
Lots of great comments everyone! Just want to share that we are hearing you.
Coincidentally this is a topic I have been thinking a lot about lately. Many of the above comments I really relate to (tech and time stuff), but there’s an important distinction to be made: Video for your own use and video for publication. My interpretation is that this blog relates to the former. I take classes at a club for three hours straight (different levels) and forget to move the camera (on a tripod) when the clients move around. Also it would disrupt the lesson, so I get what I get. The first time I did it I was lucky to get a good angle and it taught me so very much on review! I saw people and dogs do things that I missed on the day, my own hua x who was tied up behind me COULD have been in a vulnerable place with other dogs and that I said ‘Okay’ far too many times! (I also thought my voice was squeaky and that I needed to lose weight, but what the heck. It is what it is.) Chances are that only you will see what you record, so all you have to do is gain by the experience.
If you establish a uTube channel,you can upload your videos to your Channel and you can also run them slow motion !
I don’t know how to do that. Help
For Susan and her team: Any possibility you guys could put a blog together about technical aspects of reviewing? Myself and others as noted above are having trouble with this part. It takes so long. Do you rename the files and file them in any specific way? Programs/apps for taping and review? Using Coach’s Eye?
P.S. Any tips on setting up a video session would be welcome.
I like to know how to set it up also as have never done it.
Actually setting up the equipment to video is my problem. I can see the value and would love to be able to do it properly.
It’s the tech stuff that keeps defeating me, I can get it onto my video camera but can’t see anything useful when it’s that small, totally fail when it comes to trying to transfer it to the computer so I can see it large. As for the clever stuff some people do, editing and adding captions, music etc.!!! Would so love to be clever at these things, I can see just how useful it would be. Sometimes people send me videos they’ve taken and I can see exactly why my dog took the path he did 🙁 Ease and simplicity? I wish!
I also struggle with the technical aspects. I’ve been advised to watch ‘how to’ videos, but live in a rural area with very limited internet access and can’t stream video. The internet issue has limited my progress in Recallers-it can take forever to watch a video due to buffering-IF it will load.
Thankyou Susan for you wisdom. I now hope I can look at my videos with the right frame of mind as do you.
I have tried videoing and the biggest hindrance keeping me from doing it on a regular basis is my feeling that it take away some of the momentum in my dogs. Even if I rigg the equipment in advance, I still have to move away from them to start and stopp the video in a phase when they are all fired up to work. Any tipps on that problem?
For a few dollars on Amazon you can buy a Bluetooth remote shutter control. Just click to start video, click again to stop, from up to 30 or so feet away.
The problem with the remotes are for those of us with passcodes (and that should be all of us) you have to keep the video running the entire time. Great at home when I do five minute training sessions but if you are doing a long session, it really is a hassle to have to wade through long periods of no activity. I’ve bought a cheap version of a “go pro” to see if this will make things easier. We’ll see.
Apple Watch also has built-in Camera app which will start & stop the video from your wrist
Thanks Susan, I bought myself a little phone tripod last week and so have just started videoing my training sessions.
Thanks for these tips!
Hi Sausan, I would appretiate tips for managing time for reviewing the video. I used to video a lot, downloading to the computer and not seeing it once. I watch it only when I need to post it to online class (for example) or when I want to brag about my dog.
I have found videoing very valuable but struggled time wise to review adequately. Having a phased focused approach should help time and value of time spent.
Good tips here, I’ll start reviewing my videos with these in mind
I hate videoing myself, but I am seeing the check in doing it
I avoided videoing training for a long time even though I like videoing others. Starting has been the best thing I have done. My top tip would be just do it and it will become much easier.
I have videoed and have not been able to watch it as I am one who is very critical and will only see what I do not like. Phase 1 2 3 and looking for the good here I come. Thank you Susan!