The Joys of Keeping a Puppy Training Journal

Dog owner writing in her journal

It seems like our dog’s puppy years go by fast. In a lot of ways they actually do - dogs age faster than humans (source). That’s why it’s important to keep journals of the things your puppy does, including training. We recommend maintaining a separate training journal so that you can catalog the cognitive progress of your pup - as well as notate how cute your puppy is while trying to learn how to sit, stay, lay down, and sit up. The joys of keeping a puppy training journal are many.

What To Record In Your Puppy Training Journal

For each session throughout our 12-week training period, you get an opportunity to monitor specific aspects of your puppy. Things happen very fast with pets, and by recording their progress you will be able to specifically monitor how well your pet is doing and specific areas of growth you will need to focus on. The journey of pet parenting is more fulfilling when you’re able to note and appreciate the characteristics of your puppy and can tell what s/he prefers over time.

You would be able to track progress and note the essential character traits of your puppy as they begin to emerge. A basic character trait every pet parent should know is what motivates your puppy. You need this information to have focused training sessions, and to better bond with your little furry friend. When you’re sure of what motivates your pet, you would also be able to tell when something is wrong.

Each week, you’ll want to outline your training goals, review the previous week’s goals, and strategize, based on your knowledge of your puppy, when and where will be the best locations and times for this week’s training session. At the end of each week create a checklist to record what training, tricks and skills your puppy achieved during that week, and to assist in planning out the following week’s training.

Through the recording of your training sessions, you would also be able to tell how well your puppy has responded to the commands you are hoping to teach. It’s important to record the date, time, location of training, training element being taught, type and number of treats used, as well as the attitude of your puppy upon starting and ending the session. If you change training techniques, it’s also important to record this so that over time you can tell the technique that was most effective for your dog.

It’s also a great idea to put doodles in your training journal. Develop a doodle system that works for you. For me, I use a happy, frustrated, or silly face to show how I interpreted my dog’s emotions throughout the training session. I also record my own feelings. Sometimes, without even knowing that we’re doing it, we can transfer our workday frustration into our puppy’s training session… Making for a frustrated puppy. We highly recommend little, consistent doodles that will help you quickly glean how the day’s training session went simply by looking at the picture.

Example of a Puppy Training Journal

Let’s say you planned to teach your puppy to follow commands such as “sit” and “stay” for a particular week. At the end of each day of training, you are able to document with more than just the basic details how you receptive your puppy was to the training - what went right and what could be improved upon (for both of you). Also, it’s fun to take pictures of your puppy training with an instant camera, so you can insert them in your training journal. By maintaining this approach you will be surprised when you review entries and discover how much growth you and your puppy have achieved.

Monday, 06/03/19 - 72 degrees. Living room training session. 10 minutes. Provided salmon kibbles (15). Trained the sit command. Rover was happy and motivated by the treats. Took to sitting with just the word by end of the session. While session may have been too long, Rover seemed a little antsy, it was successful! Rover was somewhat distracted by the buzz when text messages came to my phone during our training session.

Note: Shorten to 5 minutes 2 times a day, and turn off the phone.

From your entries, you will be able to review the goals you’ve made for a particular activity. For learning certain commands, for example, you will be able to determine quickly if your dog was successful, or if you need to spend more time in a specific area. The doodles you use should be fun and help you appreciate the process of training and bonding with your puppy.

A Puppy Training Journal is a Keepsake

Your puppy is not going to be a puppy forever. The memories you create with your puppy will be treasured when your little guy (or girl) is all grown up. Thankfully, you will have your puppy training journal, with doodles and pictures, as well as your other memories you’ve created to fall back on when your puppy becomes full grown.

Apart from monitoring the advancements your puppy makes through the training period, you will have a physical reminder - a keepsake that reflects the love and commitment you showed your puppy to help make him (or her) a well-adjusted adult. Honestly, having a keepsake journal is fun - you’ll be amazed at how your puppy grew, laugh at the things you had challenges with, and smile with a full heart at the pictures and doodles that reflect your journey together.

Face It, You Are Pet Parent!

Some people can get sensitive when they hear someone calling themselves a pet parent. As for me, I embrace the name - you bet I’m a pet parent! I take my role to safeguard, protect, teach and love my dog as one of my main priorities in life. I get it - you are an awful lot like me in this regard. We love our dogs! That’s why as a pet parent, you’ll want a physical reminder of how fulfilling the parenting process was. A fun and creative puppy training journal serves as the perfect reminder of why you decided to become a pet parent in the first place. Even on bad days, say perhaps when your darling former puppy rolls around in the mud and then runs through your house, you will be able to appreciate how far your dog has come… Now that deserves a big, laughing smiley face doodle!

Want to keep a digital journal?

Download our Dog Training App and use the Journal to log meals, walks, training sessions, vet visits, and more. 

Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez lives in Seattle with her husband and three dogs and is a published author, and nationally recognized leader in the pet industry. Known as The Pet Lifestyle Guru™ Rebecca firmly believes “we need animals as much as they need us!” Rebecca specializes in researching and writing about holistic dog health and nutrition, and develops DIY recipes designed to enhance a pup's well-being.

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