Tips for videoing your training sessions

Do you video your training sessions when you are working with your animals? Whether you are training a horse, dog, cat, or kangaroo, recording your training sessions is a great way to improve your training. 

You’ll see lots of details in the videos that you didn’t even realize were happening during the training session. It’s also really fun to have a record of your training sessions. Several weeks or even years from now, you can look back at your old videos and marvel at how much progress you and your animal have made. 

You may be nervous or uncertain about videoing your training sessions. However, I encourage you to give it a try. (You don’t have to show the videos to anyone!) 

These tips will help you video your training sessions:

Tip 1: Invest in a small tripod. Having a tripod will make it easy for you to video your training sessions, even if you’re by yourself. I love the small, flexible tripods that can wrap around fence posts and trees. This type of tripod will allow you to position and stabilize your phone or camera from a variety of different angles. 

Tip 2: Set some boundaries. I have lost count of the number of times when I’ve videoed an awesome training session and then watched the video and realized that the animal and I were off camera most of the time! When I’m working outdoors, I like to put out cones, rocks, or other visual markers to delineate an area. Then, I position my camera so that the animal and I will be on the video if we stay within this area. 

Tip 3: Keep your videos organized. If you take a lot of video, you may start to have trouble finding particular videos! You can use a small white board to organize your videos. Write down the date, the animal’s name, the behavior you are working on, and any other notes. Then, hold the white board in front of the camera while you turn on the camera. Later, when you are scrolling through your files, the picture of the white board will appear as the thumbnail for the video. You can also use this same technique with index cards or small pieces of paper. 

We used index cards to organize our chicken training videos. Each hen had her own name card.

Tip 4: Check your lighting. It’s never fun to take a video and realize that the lighting is super dark or super bright. If you’re unsure about the lighting, you can take a short five second test clip to check how your video is going to appear.

Tip 5: Take short videos. I find that short videos are often much more helpful than long videos. Practically, I usually don’t have the time to watch back through long videos, and they take up a lot of space on my phone. If I want to track how a behavior is progressing, I’ll often video the first minute or two and the last minute or two of our session. Videos that are 1–2 minutes in length are generally long enough to get a good sense of what is happening.

Tip 6: Watch your videos more than once. I often will watch a video clip three or four (or more) times. Watching a video multiple times allows me to focus on different aspects of the training session, and I see new details each time I watch the video. This is another reason why it’s helpful to take short videos!

Tip 7: Have a plan when turning your camera on and off. Your animal may be curious or may want to “help” while you are setting up your tripod and turning your camera on and off. Be proactive and give your animal something to do while you are setting up the camera. For an animal with more training, you can have the animal do a stay or another trained behavior. For an animal with less training, you can put the animal in another room, give the animal a toy to play with, or scatter a few treats for the animal to eat. 

Apollo the horse practices his stay behavior using clicker training
A well-trained stay behavior can be handy when turning on your camera.

Do you video your training sessions? 

What tips and tricks have you discovered that make it easier for you to video your training sessions with your animals? 

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