Sunday, July 20, 2008

Running Dogwalk Practice

I finally got some running dogwalk practice on video. It took forever and a day to upload the video and edit the clips so I don't think I can post video on a regular basis but I'll try to do it when I have a chance.

This is the first or second session using the Manners Minder or Treat Gizmo as I like to call it. It's out of view of the camera but you get the idea. I bought the stupid thing about 6-7 weeks ago but they sent me a bum one and it took forever to get a new one and finally get around to playing with it. Previous to this I was putting the dog in a sit stay at one end of the plank and calling them to me from the other, treating them if they did it right. My criteria is one front paw in the lower 2/3 of the yellow and no leaping (cough, Cody, cough). Since the dogs weren't used to me sending or running to the gizmo for rewards I started out at the far end of the plank and worked my way back.

For those unfamiliar with my dogs Strummer is 3 and hasn't started competing, Lola is 7 1/2 and has been competing for 4 1/2 years, Cody just turned 10 and has been competing for 7 years. I'm not fully intent on re-training Cody but he loves to train so I didn't want to leave him out but really it's just for fun. He's close to retiring and is cutting back on competition. He was trained with lovely 2 on/2 off but often leaps his contacts in trials. Oddly enough it's very difficult to get him to leap contacts in practice but he obviously he has no problem with leaping off the plank as you can see in the video. In fact he gets worse and worse as the session goes on. The leaping carried on into today's session (video is from yesterday) and I dealt with it by facing him at the end of the board and moving closer to the end of the board, crouching down and releasing him with a very calm, subdued 'O.k.' And even then he wanted to leap.

Lola was also trained with 2 on/2 off but her contacts have degenerated into lots of creeping on the dogwalk then sometimes she leaps, sometimes she hits it. The A-frame is iffy as well. She has shoulder and neck issues so I've decided to see if I can retrain running contacts so she doesn't further injure herself. Since the contact behavior I have in the ring is bad anyway it's not like I have much to lose.

Strummer is learning running contacts from the start. I did start off teaching him 2 on/2 off with a down using a plank but I didn't like what I saw when I started to transfer it to the dogwalk (he was barreling full speed down the down side of the dogwalk and screeching to a halt to throw himself into a down) and the A-frame was even worse so I abandoned that before he ever learned it on the equipment.

These sessions are typical for Strummer and Lola with the board on the ground, I have no idea where Cody's head was at, usually he's much better. I had started them on a slightly elevated board working on recalls only and the success rate plummeted to about 30% for both dogs. I put the board flat again so I could work on sends. Once they're 80% with the sends I'll raise the board again.

I realize the lighting is bad and the dogs kind of fade into the shadows but I have a small yard and there isn't much I can do about it. I had to train at that time of day for various reasons. I also apologize for the bright fuchsia top, one of my bargain bin finds but it's so comfortable in hot weather and I didn't realize how distracting it was until I saw the video. I did do you all the favor of changing out of the purple shorts I was wearing.

I wasn't using a clicker to mark the correct behavior and I had the beep turned off on the treat gizmo. There's a delay from when you push the remote for the gizmo and when the beep sounds. Instead I was using a verbal marker. I started out using a clicker lo the many weeks ago but changed my mind after attending the Susan Garrett seminar. My timing with the clicker was terrible and I was doubtful the dogs could hear it anyway since their paws thundering down the board drowned it out.


  1. Wow--that's a lot of dogwalks! And a lot of video editing! Sometimes I hav that kind of persistence, but mostly not. Good for you.

  2. Yeah, that video editing was a nuisance, esp. since Windows Movie Maker kept crashing on me and losing my downloads. Took me a while but I found a way around it. In future I'll probably upload just a few clips per dog for the blog.

  3. Anonymous2:43 AM

    Very cool video! Your dogs are lovely and I'm becoming ever-more convinced that I *do* want running contacts (my previous (not ENTIRELY due to this issue) agility teacher wouldn't teach 'em, so I'm training by myself right now. o.0)

    Also, great photos of RMNP below- the Ute Trail was one of my favorite hikes as a kid when my familiy spent summers up there.

  4. I'm loving the training and the results so far. We'll see how it holds up in the ring when we're done. I think it would be hard to train running contacts to a class unless they were pretty motivated. I work on them a little bit 4-5 days per week, it might be hard to find a class full of people willing to do that. Plus lots of instructors have no idea how to train them. For me it's an experiment, will be interesting to see how it turns out.

    I've lived in Colorado nearly 18 years now and that was my first time on the Ute trail. It's a gorgeous trail and maybe once my knee and foot are healed we'll go back and do a longer hike.

  5. Hi Elayne, thanks for sending me your links to your videos. I do think this is the best method for us. I use a tongue click, and my dogs have a remarkable ear for it, even though it's not loud, they pick it out from the rumble. I trained my first dog with 2 on 2 off and she isn't perfect with that either, no "perfect" method, so I'd rather just have her in a habit pattern of running across the whole thing, and it's just more fun to train this way! Have fun!

    Yasi (Peaks Island Maine)