Train Smarter, Not Harder: Using TailScribe to Simplify Your Training

 This is a guest post written by FDSA Student and developer of TailScribe, Chris Tiller. We're thrilled to have Chris share the details of how the app came to be and how you can implement it as part of tracking your training!

I have two dogs, Stanley, a more sensitive, shy, reserved little guy, and Missile, a much more "in your face," excited bombastic crazy little man. They both have entirely different personalities on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I also enjoy training both of them. I've been working with Stan on reactivity-based issues for several years, but as you'd guess, Missile is very much the exact opposite of Stan. Not reactive, super tolerant, and obnoxious in the best way.

So this means there are zero overlaps in their training, and they both have some very long-term far-off goals that I need to be aware of, which leads us to...

The Problem:

  • These dogs have two completely different paths in place.
  • Stan's path is about building confidence and comfort.
  • Missile's path is about building focus and control.
  • Due to their different paths, I need a system to know precisely where they are and where they're going. Memory won't cut it.

After digging for months for a note taking solution to help solve the problem, my list expanded:

  • Must be online (paper is hard to keep track of)
  • I need to be able to keep tabs on multiple pets easily
  • I need to be able to track skills
  • I need to take notes and have them scoped to each pet
  • I need to be able to follow training plans for each pet
  • I need to have a mechanism to keep an eye on things my dogs do/don't like
  • I need to be able to easily involve other members of my (human) family in the training
  • I need all of this consolidated in a way that doesn't make my head spin

You can see where this is going. As I progress with each of my dogs, their needs will outstrip my capability to track by myself more and more. Then, I'd need to do the whole process again with each new family member. Hunting down prior processes or procedures would be a pain, and so would tracking my pup's progress over time. And sure, a spreadsheet absolutely can do that, but that's not easy, and I want to train and not think about the logistics of my training data!

So, after scouring for a premade solution, I kinda just said, "Fine, I'll do it," and made TailScribe.

Wait, What Even is That?

TailScribe is a web app that is an all-in-one free training software meant to cover all of your animal training needs. As of the time of writing, it has support for:

  • Tagged and dated notes
  • Youtube videos, with the ability to annotate and analyze your videos for deeper insight
  • Custom-made checklists that can cover paths to procedures, titles, etc.
  • Adding skills for pets and any associated verbal cues for any of your pet's skills.
  • Phonetic analysis of a pet's cues, checking for any close overlap between them. (Think "bow" and "wow")
  • Sharing pets and collaborating with other users, i.e., having other trainers, friends, or family add notes for your pets or annotate your videos

There's a lot to do and a lot to try, and you're free to use all of those tools however you please, but I'd like to walk through one of my workflows:

Example: Missile is working on a trick title:

Missile is currently working on his trick intermediate title (passively). We're in no rush, he's still a baby, but I don't want to lose any progress. So first things first, I'll want to have a checklist. The checklist will function as my roadmap for what I want to accomplish.

Oh, would you look at that! Right there within TailScribe!

Great! So I can add that to my account and then add it to Missile. Ezpz!

Now, I need to do the hard part. I'm being proactive, so I want to film my training. I'll take some videos, upload them to youtube, put in some notes, and add some annotations! I can go under notes -> videos -> add new video note:


It turns out that he did figure out the "carry" skill in this session, so I can go check it off of my checklist. This checklist will add that skill to Missile, saving me some work!

We love it and want to name it, so we can finally add our cue. In adding this skill, it was also automatically added to the skills page. We can navigate to the skills page, filter for our new skill, and add a name:

And that's it! In order, we have the following:

  • A training plan
  • Recorded training progress
  • A new skill accomplished
  • A new cue attached to that skill

All things are in their place, with minimal difficulty in referencing them.

Example: Stanley and Resource Guarding

As mentioned, Stanley is reactive, and lately, he has started developing resource guarding in certain circumstances. We want to be aware of when these instances occur so we can identify patterns and better manage the behavior. At the same time, we also want to be able to push forward and start treating his resource-guarding behaviors.

So we start taking notes!

We can record standard notes by navigating to the pet's details page -> notes. By default, the note captures the current date and time, some text, and you can add any tags you care about. You can later use those tags to reference all of the important notes:

By doing this, it makes it extremely easy to stop spending energy trying to do all of the legwork of remembering what your dog knows or does or their particular quirks, or anything, really, and spend that energy focusing on the thing you want to do, work with your pup and keep building your relationship!

TailScribe is continually evolving. Numerous features on the roadmap have yet to launch, and people are already discovering different workflows and creative uses that we couldn't cover here, so I'd like to find out how you do it or what you'd like to see! Feel free to give feedback on the Fenzi Alumni group, the TailScribe Facebook group, or even contact me directly. All feedback is taken seriously; I'd love to hear from you!

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