Thursday, July 31, 2008

Running Dogwalk Practice

I was curious to see how the behavior would hold up after nearly a week of no practice. I had a session with the plank off the ground right before I left for Chicago and Strummer was brilliant, at least 80% and maybe 90% with solid hits. Lola was maybe 90-100%, can't quite remember (yes, I know, BAD, I should write that stuff down). Cody, well, we won't go into Cody.

It was hot last night, even at 8:00 pm when I started the session and the dogs seemed to tire easily plus they've been sitting on their butts for the past 5 days.

Cody had the most interesting session of the 3. Even though he's near retirement I still can't help myself with wanting to train him. It's good for his brain too, I don't want to start neglecting him just because he won't be competing. He's proving to be the most challenging with this behavior because he's such a bouncy dog and has a natural tendency to leap for the pure joy of it. I thought I would start troubleshooting the leaping by placing the treat gizmo close to the end of the board and also by standing close to the end of the board and facing him hoping that all these collection cues would give him the right idea. Well, Cody has had a lifetime of defying all logic when it comes to training and after 3 reps. it became clear that wasn't going to work. So I thought I'd switch to walking next to the plank with hopes that my motion would cue him to run or trot instead of taking those huge flying leaps. This worked much better in that he did stop leaping but he's putting in an extra stride which makes it awkward and slow for him to hit the end of the plank. My main goal for the training session was to get rid of the leaping so I did reward the awkward striding. At this point I'm not at all concerned with speed, I mainly want him to perform the dogwalk without leaping off the end and hurting himself. Hopefully he'll get the idea and get rid of the extra stride. Will be interesting to see what future training sessions bring. With Cody you never know.

Lola had the least amount of hits and I think it's because she was a bit wound up and focusing more on the treat gizmo than her feet. Strummer also had trouble at the start because he was over the top wound up. I ran him last and he'd worked himself up into quite the state by the time it was his turn. But after a few reps he calmed down a bit and had some nice hits.


  1. The "she was a big wound up" thing is the problem with, I think, all methods of contact training once you get to a trial. Tika's contacts have been brilliant 2-on-2-off in class and at home the last few weeks, just brilliant, fast, right to the bottom and stick it. So why were we flying through the air with the greatest of ease at competitions?

    Well, of course, some of it is that I don't hold my criteria with her in the ring any more very often, but you'd think she'd at least TRY, at least ONCE in a while.

    Good luck with that. My worry about running contacts is that the excitement of competition boosting the leaping factor will be even harder to control if they're not even thinking about stopping. But lots of people are trying these days, so who knows.

  2. This is neat following along with your training. That Manners Minder sure is coming in handy is it not. Would otherwise be soooo annoying if you had to go and rebait a target every single time, I imagine.

    I share Ellen's concern about running contacts and so am sticking with 2o2o for teeter and dogwalk. I'm having a hard enough time finding time to train their running frame nevermind two other obstacles too. (But then, I wouldn't have room in my yard to do the board work you've been doing.) Anyway, there are several bloggers out there who are having a great time with running contacts on all three obstacles and swear by it. To each their own, I say.

  3. It's all an experiment, we shall see what happens. I'm hoping that by eliminating the demotivating stop I'll get less leaping when they're excited in a trial. I was watching some old video of Cody leaping off the dogwalk and when he hit the down plank he was simply going too fast to be able to manage a stop at the end without a lot of effort. If he'd carried through running with just one more stride he probably would have hit the yellow. And even if he didn't, it would be safer than the leaping from 1/3 of the way down the plank.

    As far as training for 3 obstacles, it seems that all you have to do is train the dogwalk and you get the A-frame for free. That's the theory anyway and it seems to be working for the people who are training a new dog, not sure how it will work on the retrains. I don't want a running teeter-yikes! I don't think I've ever seen that, noone around here has one that I've ever noticed. I'm training for a 4-on stop at the end of the teeter. Both Cody and Lola have nice reliable teeters and Strummer is coming along but needs a lot more work. I don't like those sliding teeters where the dog slides to the end then slams the board down. It's fine for a small dog but not my big horse dogs, too much potential for injury.

  4. I started with the plank completely flat on the ground, and I have a mat about five feet away from either end of the plank, and I click and toss the treat onto it as the dog hits the contact. I noticed that with my young completely inexperienced dog, he started out all over and off the board, so I moved the mats closer, just one foot away from the end of the board, and soon he was flying back and forth perfectly, so then I moved the mats further away, and that was very reinforcing for him but I am still working him with the plank completely flat on the ground for now.

    My other more experienced dog (who I've run over planks since puppyhood, but also trained 2/2, had the flat plank game down after just one or two clicks, she understood it really well, the lghtbulb went off, so now I have it going up and down to a table, and so on the way UP I can mark the up contact, and the down contact on the way down! Who knows how it will all turn out, but it's a fun process!!

    Love your blog!


  5. Thanks! The mats sound like a good idea, maybe I'll try that if Cody doesn't improve. I've tried putting the treat gizmo just a foot away from the end of the board but it doesn't seem to make a big difference. I think maybe I need to go back to a flat plank for him for a while. Retrains are so much harder than training from scratch, esp. when the dog is 10 years old.