I have been thinking a lot about this lately. To me, a puppy is very easy to train and to set goals for. You want the puppy to sit. You have very concrete measures of success for a sit. You want your young agility dog to learn the weaves. They go through all the poles, they know how to weave. (I know, not quite that clear cut, but close).
Tangle now knows all of his obstacles, he is very clear right now what the criteria is for success. So, how do you set your goals and how do you measure them now?
My goals for Tangle are to gain confidence, speed and more passion for the game. He also needs mileage or experience. My challenge is how do I measure progress and what is my criteria? More esoteric for sure. What does "mileage" really mean? And how do you put "mileage" on a dog with the least amoung of repetition and stress on their bodies?
I am starting with developing pictures in my head of what a confident, passionate, and speedy runs would look like. (Mileage is something I am still trying to define.) I look for examples among my other dogs, and I look for examples among many, many videos of other people's runs. OK, now that I have a few examples, I am setting my mind to defining concretely why the run looks confident, speedy, and passionate.
One of the challenges is defining milestones of success and knowing when we have arrived. I can break it down in many ways, just deciding which is the best is the trick. Do I break it down by obstacle? For example, the weave performance goes from 2 seconds down to 1.3 seconds? Do I break it down by body language? No stress on the startline, eyes engaged. Full strides, head down (it's a border collie thing) where he is capable or is he reserving energy (ie, hesitant) still?
I think that my answer lies with both of these types of measurement. I don't want to stress too much any individual obstacle at this point and the "body language" indicator is very hard to measure.