Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Running Dogwalk Update

It's been a while since I posted any updates on Strummy's contact training. I've got some new video on the camera but who knows when I'll have time to upload it.

I raised the table up to 20" on Sunday and so far his training for the week looks like this:

Sunday - 19/20 hits, 95%

Monday - 19/20 hits, 95%

Tuesday - 19/20 hits, 95%

Wednesday - 17/20 hits, 85%

The misses occurred at varying reps though usually in the first 10 reps. Today's were #3, 4 and maybe 5 or 6.

My plan is to go to 22" then 24" then introduce him to the lowered dogwalk at the practice field which I think is 24".

My biggest dilemma at the moment is when/how to proof. This week's practice sessions were all the plank on the table with the treat gizmo for reward. I can stand still anywhere around the plank/table or run beside him, run past him, etc., body position/movement don't matter as long as the treat gizmo is there. If I take the treat gizmo away and use a toy for reward, he watches me all the way down the plank-NOT what I want. He's usually successful in that he hits front feet in the yellow but he sometimes comes off the side of the plank and I don't want his eyes on me the whole time. Some days the toy gets him amped way up and success rates go down. Other days he's fine with the toy. The one thing that seems to work is to leave the gizmo out but switch off rewarding with the gizmo and a toy thrown right where the gizmo is. He's completely obsessed with the gizmo now, I think watching the treats come out is more reinforcing than the actual treats (I'm only using his regular meal kibble for treats) and I do feel he's targeting/focusing on it too much. This was my main reservation with using the gizmo, I have to figure out how to fade it and when. Do I wait until I have really solid behavior on the full sized dog walk or do I start now that I have fairly solid behavior on the plank? I'd like to start him on the dogwalk next month and in a way I think he's ready but I don't know, maybe I should do more proofing on the plank first.

One thing's for sure, he loves the training. Crazy dog was foaming at the mouth at the end of his session this morning.


  1. Can you leave the toy in the spot where the gizmo usually is? Then, have him target to the toy, rather than look at you?

    Maybe even put the toy under a bucket or something, but let him see it's there?

    Just noodling, not sure my "novice" ideas apply.

  2. Don't wait until he's doing a real dogwalk to fade the gizmo (which is really a target). Gradually move it farther and farther away as you train with the board. Eventually, it will be so far away you can just remove it.

  3. Actually that bucket idea is genius, it's the best suggestion I've heard so far for doing this kind of training with a toy. I'll probably use a flower pot because it's a bit heavier and a certain someone I know can't just bat it away to get the toy. You could use it for treats too, a ghetto treat gizmo without the remote control function but way cheaper.

    I can't move the gizmo any farther from the plank because I've already run out of backyard with it just 15-20 feet away. I'll give it a try at the practice field and see what happens but he's so obsessed with the darn thing that I think he'd run wherever he had to to get to it. If I'm training the table or weaves and leave the gizmo out in another part of the yard he'll do what I ask then run to the gizmo for reward.

  4. HA! If you need another ghetto training idea (for those of us on an increasingly tight budget), I also use old yogurt cups as food targets.

    Lilly is a total cheater and would steal food (even if she didn't complete the task), so I needed lids.

    I let her see there is food inside, then I tell her to leave it. Only after she does the task do I open the cup and let her have a jackpot.

  5. Is there any way that you can do it with the gizmo, then put him where he can't see you remove it, then do it again without it there and reward with the toy, put him back where he can't see you, put the gizmo back for a couple of three more runs, repeat. Or is he looking for it before he even starts the exercise?

  6. I tried this very thing this morning except I didn't worry about whether he could see me take the gizmo away or not and I didn't put it back at the end of the session. It's not so much that he's looking for it before he starts the exercise but that if he can't see it anywhere then he looks at me.