Sunday, March 7, 2010

Video Progress - Training Levels

I love Training Levels.

I don't love trying to keep track of what has and hasn't been done in Training Levels - particularly since I have two dogs.

Yes, I do use the Training Tracker (at least I try to) and in the beginning was I was really wild about it. Then my son discovered XBox Live. So much for my internet connection! It always seemed that when I had free time to work with my four-legged boys, my two-legged boy was on-line.

Funny how that works.

Without an internet connection to check Tracker, I found it hard to remember what I had done and what was left to do.

So I wrote up checklists for each level, printed a copy for each dog, printed the training level instructions for each level, and put the whole thing in a binder with pocket folders so I could easy pull out either the instructions or the progress sheets.

That worked extremely well, and I still rely on it (going on a year now?) as the ultimate guide of what I've done and what is left to do. But then I started videoing everything, which created yet another wrinkle (x2 - a wrinkle per dog.) Now, in addition to tracking what they know and what they are working on, I needed to track what had already videoed. Oh, and don't forget noting what actually made it into a final video.


So I created a simple Excel spreadsheet (aside: While I'm not much of a Microsoft fan, I really love Excel.)

I created rows for the activities and a pair of columns for each dog for each level. It's very much like Tracker (surprise, surprise - I did say it was wonderful, I just can't get to it when I need it!) only made to handle 2 dogs and in black and white instead of pretty colors. A solid color in the square means that activity is not part of that level (ie: there is no Heel in Level 1), a white square is a required item, a gray square is an optional item, and a square with a single slash is one with no training aides.

There are some things that I have no intention of videoing (like my boys doing their business for handling level 3 or, most likely, things requiring "strangers")  and I mark those squares with a red circle with a line through it. Things that I have clips for are shown with a clear happy face and when they are "released" in a video the face turns yellow (following Tracker's cheery yellow seal of accomplishment.)

Below is how it looks at this very moment. While hardly a thing of beauty, I have to say it gives me great satisfaction staring at it!

(Click to see larger)

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