Logan Part 23 – What is Progress?

The above is a little video of Logan I shared a few weeks ago. Although this blog is part of his training journey, the points apply equally to many other dogs and many other activities without dogs.

20 years ago, I began to do weight lifting with a couple of guys I worked with. One of the guys, Tony, had been lifting for years. Myself and Stevie had just started. Stevie, being a man in his 20s, used to get frustrated that he wasn’t able to lift the same as Tony. T explained to him that of course, he wouldn’t be able to, he’d only just started but to focus on what gains he made over the couse of 6 months with the lifts he was doing.

progress
noun
ˈprəʊɡrɛs/
  1. 1.
    forward or onward movement towards a destination.
    “the darkness did not stop my progress”
  2. 2.
    development towards an improved or more advanced condition.
    “we are making progress towards equal rights”
verb
prəˈɡrɛs/
  1. 1.
    move forward or onward in space or time.
    “as the century progressed the quality of telescopes improved”
  2. 2.
    develop towards an improved or more advanced condition.
    “work on the pond is progressing”

     

    When I  am working with Logan outside these are the questions I ask
    1. Can he take food from my hand?

    2. Can he do that in the presence of dogs?

    3. Can he search for food on the ground?

    4. Can he do that in the presence of dogs?

    5. Are his ears relaxed, face soft, tail relaxed, body moving easily?

    6. What are the quality of the movements in point 5? Do they look easy?

    7. How much of is is he doing?

    8. If we do make a msitake and he does bark or pull towards dogs, how quickly can he go back to doing points 1-7?

    l

    If I have these criteria in mind, this give me something to progress towards rather than move away from. I can measure these by videoing the sessions, or I can do my best to remember how much we are achieving (data recording without relying on your memory is generally better).

    You may or may not have noticed that none of the descriptors above focus on “not” behaviours. I am not asking how much he is not barking, how much he is not pulling. Although we can quantify the amount he is not doing these behaviours, it puts our focus in the wrong place. We will tend to see the problem behaviours and use methods which stop or reduce them, rather than focusing on what we do want and building sound training plans to get more of those behaviours.

    Several people have commented on the above video stating that there is not much progress. We need to have something to measure it against and something to aim for, and these have to be observable rather than some arbitrary notion that we will have achieved XYZ by some date which is plucked out of the air. Yes, we all want to progress and there are times where I may have to ask him to do a little more than he is ready due to circumstances but his progress is dictated by his readiness for it, not by what I want.

    Happy training, thanks for reading.

     

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One thought on “Logan Part 23 – What is Progress?

  1. I’m followin you and Logan from day one. From videos there is obvious huge progress. Some people just don’t know that you can not compare 18 months of work with dog that has a bad star in his life, that has some (for us) unwanted behaviors that he reinforced for quite some time. It is a big difference comparing to gettin a puppy.

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