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Monday, May 24, 2010

Criteria - Planning Worksheet

Welcome to Criteria Blog #3. 

This is a continuation on a discussion about the use of criteria in dog training. Here are links to the two previous blogs which will bring you up to date for this entry.

Blog Discussion 1
Blog Discussion 2

Here is some great advice:

Make a goal you can be confident in and invest in the steps that lead to criteria.

To help myself and my clients, I created the Agility Criteria Planning worksheet* to the left. But before I talk about how to use the worksheet, there are a few important points to remember in order to make a criteria based training plan successful.

CIDT (Criteria in Dog Training) should be:
a specific and consistent standard for a particular action/goal
a clear yes/no judgment as to whether the criteria was fully met. Criteria is very clear cut. The dog either does the expected criteria or it does not. There are no excuses, no points for ‘but he tried’ or ‘it was my fault’ and no worries if they don’t do it. With that said...

Remember, our job as Trainer to The Dog is to:

* teach our dog the skill or job
* impart information
* instruct to improve performance
* attain a required level of  knowledge or skill

Criteria - Plan It!
I'm a huge subscriber to the theory that a little bit of planning goes a long way in time management and training efficiency. So when it comes to planning my criteria, I use the worksheet* attached as a way to guide me through the thought and training process. While I'd love to share all of the details and tidbits of the worksheet in this blog, I've chosen to focus on just a few highlights. (For information on how to view the full 2-page sheet in detail, please e-mail me.)

Planning - Where to Begin (at the end...)
In my last Blog post, I mentioned that the place to start criteria planning was by deciding exactly what the end behavior was going to look like - from the dog's point of view. This is the information that goes in the top box of the worksheet.

Once the end behavior is known, I go to the next section where there are several lines available for planning each SMALL physical step a dog will do that will ultimately lead to the final goal/action listed in the top box.

A couple of tips:

  • Focus on the physical actions of the dog during planning & training
  • Think small steps the dog will do and be rewarded for (and don't be stingy with treats!)
  • Start with a sterile environment. Once the behavior is solid, then you can move to proofing (another form I've created)
  • Don't move on to the next step in training until your dog is offering the current step 80-100% of the time independently
  • Are you Shaping or Back Chaining? As the worksheet indicates, if you start training at #1 you're shaping. If you start training at #8 you're Back Chaining
  • Did I mention don't be stingy with treats and to reward, reward, reward?

Have Criteria...Now What?
Now you train it. But how do you train it? Stay tuned for the next Blog post.

* While I have made considerable additions/changes on its relevance to dog training, the base of this worksheet (sometimes seen as a stepping ladder via Terry Ryan of Legacy Canine) has been around for decades and used by scientists, students and researchers. (I wish I could specifically remember the exact resources, but I at least wanted to give a nod to those unknown authors).

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