3 blogs in January … perhaps a goal of mine could be at least one blog every other week. I’ve been making that goal since November in fact! I enjoy writing and thinking and so many of you gift me amazing fodder, there is always something on my mind, thank you. I am so grateful. Well, my slow typing turned this into a February blog but that’s ok. Maybe one handed typing means fewer typos and more brilliant content. We can but hope!!

Goal Setting With a Twist …

The very day I last blogged I also broke my humerus. In two directions. Talented me. When caught between the wall and a horse my shoulder gave, I then fell down and am pleased to report not getting trampled by any of the 6 horses that were right there. It’s a nuisance don’t get me wrong. A broken humerus means a useless arm … in my case for at least a month .. and the doctor muttered to Tom it might be 3 months. Sigh. The best way to immobilize a humerus is to hang your arm. Arms are a lot heavier hanging than I had realized.

Farming and my work away from home don’t lend themselves well to being broken. Even one-handed typing is awkward; driving, cutting, putting on jeans? Not happening. I never thought I’d miss a bra so much but putting a shirt on can take me up to 26 minutes so no thank you.

Anyhow more on the break will follow I am sure- I am learning lots and getting plenty of reminders of my teachings beyond that gratitude thing – my reframing game is strong right now.

An Important Superpower

Today though I want to talk about a secret superpower. It’s one you already have, and one you can improve too. I just spent a long time browsing the extensive Drinking From The Toilet podcast library looking for exactly what I wanted and I couldn’t see it. If you have a link on this power to share please do share it in the comments! This power improves your training, timing, reward placement, teaching AND animal husbandry. Talk about winning! The coolest thing about this power is you can consciously improve it too! Have you guessed yet? I’m talking about observation.

Dr. Bandura and his Bobo doll experiments illustrate clearly how carefully people observe people. Why should we bring this superpower to animal training?

  • because it provides great information (not all information has to come from mistakes!)
  • because it fast tracks reflection time – we can react and adapt to what we see before us
  • it allows us to change our training plan which increases our flexibility
  • by looking for the subtle, a change in breathing or stiffness in the body keeps us all safer
  • it reduces our reliance on unwanted verbal chat
  • we can see physical challenges faster which results in healthier happier partners.
  • observation allows individual, and fast, progress aka differentiation

So, How do you build this skill?

Practice, practice and more practice. A dear friend and I were chatting the other day and realized thanks to some unpredictable adults in our childhood we are experts at observation. We honed the skill of observation long before using it in training.

Define what it is you are observing. If you want to build a great 2 on 2 off on the dog walk focus on that not on what your dog does at the start line.

Quantify where you can and record keep. Even very casual record keeping of, let’s say, what time of day you train might provide some salient information on inspection.

Use your senses. Look, Listen, Feel in particular are helpful to those of us aspiring to be our best training self. Cross check with different senses, something might look fine but you might hear tension in breathing for example.

Watching video back certainly helps improve your powers, if you use it that way. If it is simply cause to belittle yourself skip it for now though!

Look for the details, this requires some forethought. What is your focus in this session? Keep your eye on that goal.

Focus. Don’t fall down rabbit holes. That is to say don’t get distracted by things beyond the scope of your intention for the session. Note whatever but set it aside until you have time to think about.

In Conclusion

Use your observations for good. Plan your approach and be methodical in your observations. Observations lead to success. Really. It’s interesting to note that after I started this blog many many of the fabulous presentors at Clicker Expo alluded to the importance of observation at least in passing!

Want to focus on your observations and not think about your training too much? Go ahead and get yourself my full set of training task cards HERE (with a bonus copy of Love The One You Are: The Book too) or check out individual decks on the products page of this website!