Our Shaped by Dog podcast is designed to be heard or viewed. If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video, as each includes nuances of emotion and emphasis that might not come through on the written word. Transcripts are generated from the audio, then humans review with love and care, and then there's a double check by our dogs. If you are quoting in print, please check the audio first for full context. Thank you!
SG Susan Garrett
SG On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your last three dog training sessions? And what was the
criteria by coming up with those numbers? Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Today
I'm going to share with you my 10-point checklist on how I plan for my own success in dog training. It's
something that every single person listening to this podcast, if you want to train your dog, then I would
hope you'd want to train your dog the best you can.
It doesn't mean that you have to train every session like a world champion does, but it means that you
train every session the best you can. And I promise you with these 10 little boxes that you're going to
be checking off, it will exponentially improve the success you already have.
Let's start with checkbox number one, what are you training for? Do you have a brand-new puppy? You
might want to check out the five puppy games I have on YouTube. That's a great place to start for
anyone with a new puppy. Or are you working on a specific behavior problem like I spoke about with
my puppy This! in Shaped by Dog episode number 66, where I talked about resource guarding.
What is that behavior problem? That could be an area that you are focusing on training. Or maybe it's
manners. Maybe you're trying to teach your dog appropriate way to greet your guests. I spoke about
that here on Shaped by Dog episode number 121. Or maybe you have specific behaviors that you're
training for a sport.
So, if you're a member of Agility Nation our online membership, or Handling360 our agility training
class, we would be giving you lesson plans for each layer of your learning. Or maybe, and you don't
have to be in any sport at all, your focus is fitness. So, your dog's trained pretty well or it's on the way
to being trained pretty well but you want to make sure that you avoid any potential injuries because you
like to go on big hikes or you like to go and play fetch at the park. So, every dog could benefit from
having some fitness. Those would be the five topics that most people's dog training would fall into.
Is it puppy? Is it a behavior challenge? Is it manners? Is it sports specific or is it fitness? Now you've
decided which area you're going to focus on. The next question is how long do you have to train?
Because the length of time is going to dictate what you're going to set up and train. So, do you have
two minutes, or do you have two hours?
I've had training sessions that have gone both. Now it's not one long training session for two hours, but
I have gone out to the building with my dogs and trained for two hours with a lot of record-keeping in
between. Nobody's tongue was hanging out. So how much time do you have to train?
Most people the average training session of actual ‘all right I've got everything set up I'm now training’
might be five minutes, maybe 10 minutes. Now, checkbox number three would be what is the list of
behaviors or needs that you have to train for that particular category and two questions. It's kind of two
in one. Review your list of needs, and what is the priority, and what is the one that's the most fun for
Because we're bringing both of those into this training session. So, if you have a puppy that we're
training, well I've got to teach a name recognition. I want to do some work with recalls. I want to teach
them to stay in Reinforcement Zone when we're going for walks. I've got a list of things. What is your
domino? What is the big one where you're at right now? And if you're interested in me giving you a list
of some of the suggestions of things you might want to train with that new puppy, just come on over to
YouTube and leave me a comment and or go to our Shaped by Dog website and leave me a comment
there. Maybe I'll include that in a future episode.
So, what is the list of behaviors? So, if you're on one of our classes of course we're going to give you a
bunch of lesson plans that is going to give you all of those things right there. “I know I am in Blueprint
classroom number two and here's all the skills that I'm having to train”.
So, what is the behaviors that you have to train? What is the domino? The one that's most important.
What is the one that's most fun? And if you have a little extra time, what is something that you are also
going to introduce or brush up on? So, go to your list of behaviors you want to train and what are you
going to zoom in on?
But remember, keep one fun and lighthearted for the dog. One that's new, the most important for you.
Number four, you're going to review your notes from a previous session because that's going to give
you great insight into this session. “What's, what's that? You don't have notes from a previous session?
Well let me tell you, if you journal your training, it's going to be the absolute best way to improve.
Otherwise, we're humans. We tend to repeat our mistakes. So, when you review your journal, it could
be as rudimentary as you want. The date, what you trained and on a scale of 1 to 10, how great was it?
And the next thing would be what you want to improve.
So, you're going to go to that even if it's a rudimentary record keep and say, “Oh man, I remember that
now. I gave myself a three on the hand touches so I'm going to bring hand touches into my next
training session.” So, review your training notes. That's checkbox number four. You may or may not be
bringing something into this next training session. Now, number five. What does success look like? You
know when you're finished this session, you look back and you go “This was his success because...”
Write that down because that is your goal of this session.
You have to have targets in order to get success and move forward. If you're just going aimlessly, “I'm
just going to teach my dog I don't know, how to sit or roll over? I don't know. And then we'll see how
that goes.” That's not bringing any energy to a session and that's not bringing any confidence to a
And so, when you have a goal, and you have a plan the sessions I tell you will take you a lot less time
to train whatever it is that you want to train. So, make sure you've got that goal. Check box number six.
This is a biggie. What is the equipment that is required? Now when I say what equipment you're going
to need, you're going to think, “Oh yeah what treats do I have?”
“I've got to have some lower value treats and some high value treats. I'm going to have a bunch of
treats. My clicker got my clicker. Obviously, my journal now that Susan's kicked my butt, I’ll have my
journal and my pen. So, I got my treats and what about a toy? Yeah, just some toys and I guess that's
What about a leash? You may want to practice something on a leash. At this stage of my puppy's
training This! is 17 months old and I never really put a collar on her around the house, but I always
have a collar hanged up in the building that I can put on for training because it's a great way to remind
her of the collar grab game, building value for that. It's a great way to restrain her. I love training a dog
with a collar on.
So, leash and collar and you may or may not need the leash, but you've got to make sure that that's on
your equipment checklist. What toy you're going to use to relationship build at the beginning and what
toy you're going to use for your balance breaks or game. You may not have a dog who loves toys, but
what game? And if you're not sure about balance breaks, I've got a video on YouTube all about
Now, things that you're not going to think so much about is number one, that journal and pen, thank
you for the reminder. Number two, a video camera. Come on everyone's got a phone. A phone and you
can get a cheap little tripod to put that phone on. I actually have several of them. So, you definitely
want to, anytime you're training any mechanical skill you want to video your training. I want to hear
from those of you if you love video you're training or “Susan, there's no way I would ever video my
training.” I would like to hear from you.
Number seven, your warmup plan. So, you will have a list of things. I like to engage my dog's brain and
get their body warmed up. Now, the body of warmup, depending on what you're going to do, it may just
be a, you know, quick little walk around. If you're doing something that's more physical, it might be
more demanding than that. Early on, or it could be early and often, I love introducing ItsYerChoice as
part of the brain work. I always do this with puppies. I always do this with rescue dogs, and I do this
with dogs who are you know, kind of pushy in their training.
We'll start with a game of ItsYerChoice so that when I've got cookies in my hand and I'm going to
deliver them that I don't get a dog who's impatient. I've warmed it up at first. Warmed up body, warmed
up brain, write it in your notes, what's your plan? And it could be the same for most of your training
sessions. It doesn't have to be that dramatically different. Although the body warmup will be dependent
upon what it is that you're going to be training in the actual session.
We're getting down to it. Number eight is what is the criteria of the behavior you’re training? What are
you going to accept? I'm going to say “good”, or click. What does correct look like? You've got to know
that before you start training it. So, if you're training something as simple as a sit, is it with the front feet
splayed out? Is it the butt part up in the air? What does that sit look like? As something as simple as sit
has got criteria, but also this is so important. Not only what does correct look like, what does incorrect
look like? You better know that upfront because your dog will be offering you behaviors or may or may
not be that you aren't going to want.
Let's say you're shaping a sit and every time your dog sits, they bark at you. If you click and reward
that, that's what we call a ‘cheap behavior’. It's coming along for the ride. Anytime you say the word
“sit” you are going to get sit and bark, kind of like a park and bark. The dog is going to just do it,
because it’s a cheap behavior.
So, know you got a dog that tends to bark then I want to shape behaviors without that. Or if I'm
teaching say, my dog to target their nose to something, a lot of dogs will bring their paw and their nose
along that paw being the cheap behavior. Know what you don't want. Super important when you are
training any behavior. Just have it in the back of your mind this is going to make it icky if I bring this
along, I don't want it.
And if we're doing something like agility it could be as simple as ‘what's the dog's head position’. For
example, when I'm training a Threadle, a fence behavior in dog agility, I don't want my dog to look at
me. So that's something I'm really cognizant of when I'm training Threadles, that my dog's eyes don't
come off their job onto me.
Now, number nine, the ever important. You must know how you're going to manipulate your
environment to create success for your dog. And if you aren't sure what I mean, go to episode number
44 where I talked about stages of learning and how you change the environment to challenge the dog
or set the dog up for success.
And also check out podcast episode number 6, an early on one where I talked about all about the art of
manipulation. Success can be achieved so much faster if the environment doesn't present other
distractions or other options for the dog, so they go, “Oh, there's a pail on the ground. Obviously, you
want me to put my feet in that or put my paws on that or put my head in that.
So, they'll be doing things with that pail, but if there's a pail and a ball and a pylon and a fence and
another dog and some cookies, there's too many options. So, manipulating your environment so
important when you're training. Number 10, review your training. Journal your successes.
Look at your video and then put a plan of action. It could be rudimentary. Don't go crazy. You’re not
writing a book. Just what will I do differently next time? A checklist that's going to exponentially improve
your dog training because you're just doing things in order.
Like chaos isn't going to bring success the way structure and order will, and we're making it super easy
for you. We're giving you a downloadable copy of this checklist you can have for yourself. Just check
the link in the show notes. And if you're watching this on YouTube, you'll find that link in the description.
I'll see you next time here on Shaped by Dog.