I'm glad last week is over is all I'm saying. I had 3 fashion disasters (I had to explain to 2 different people that no I don't have the day off work, I do actually go to the office dressed like this), one diagnosis for a possible root canal/dead tooth and started off Thursday by stepping into the toilet. Then there was the fun of dealing with day after day of thunderstorms and hail and the ensuing freaking out of dogs. I was seriously considering Vallium for everybody, especially me. Or especially Strummer. Either way.
The one good thing about last week was that my new camcorder finally came. I decided to keep it old school and ended up ordering a Canon miniDV camcorder. I was a little bit nauseous forking over the $219 because I've been not spending money on Stuff but it's such a critical part of my agility training and I'm not to a point where I want or need to give that up. I looked up the computer requirements for the software for the Flip Mino which a couple people recommended and my computer is indeed not fast enough. I also saw some reviews of the camera by people with older laptops and they reported skipping/jumping type problems with the uploaded video. I don't want to buy a new computer at the moment so all my old school equipment will have to do for now. I'm hoping that by the time I'm ready for a new computer they'll have some of the glitches of the HD camcorder technology worked out too.
I've got some video of Strum's dogwalk practice from the weekend and I think it looks worse than my old camera but maybe it's only a matter of tweaking some settings. I went through the manual for once and thought I'd set everything as they suggested but maybe I'm missing something somewhere. I used the same software and quality level to upload it so I think the problem is at the camera level.
I've been having a fair bit of frustration with Strum's dogwalk at the moment. It's good, it's great, it's a disaster and no consistency from practice to practice. I lowered his backyard plank/table to 3'-6" and I've been working on little proofing things and fading the treat gizmo. He's nearly perfect at home and usually is good at the field on the real dogwalk if I have the gizmo. But take the gizmo away and things quickly fall apart. So I've been trying to gradually fade the gizmo in the yard by doing 2 reps rewarding with it, then 2 reps with the gizmo in place but rewarding with a thrown toy (ball or tug) then moving the gizmo away and using only the toy or tug. The practice session shown on video below ended up being 9/12 or 75%, not great. The first 5 reps were good then once he realized I had a ball in my hand he started getting overexcited and leaping off the side. Even on the reps he got he was looking at me and not running straight ahead which is not what I want. I rewarded it because I was happy that he wasn't leaping but after watching the video I've decided I don't like that performance. To prevent it I start out the session standing well past the end of the plank so he's focusing forward on me then gradually moving back and throwing the ball while he's still on the plank so he's looking forward for it. He was 6/6 on Tuesday and 5/6 this morning and he's running forward nicely.
I apologize profusely for the tie dye fashion disaster. It's my shirt from DOCNA Champs. and for some reason I really like it even though I'm not a fan of tie dye. I had no idea how appalling it looked and I didn't think about what I was wearing when I made the video. Sad thing is I'll probably still wear it. In my defense there were some way worse outfits at the NE Regionals (long black baggy shorts and black calf length sock-yikes!). I'm going to be extremely careful of my clothes choices if I decide to go to Regionals this year and they are live streaming it. I can't imaging that USDAA would bother with our dinky Regionals but you never know.
Strum has a terrible fall near the end when the plank slips out from under him. He was o.k. I was not. I hesitated to post it but thought it might be a good warning to other people trying this method. If your plank isn't securely attached make sure it's stable at each rep! I had him do 2 more reps after he fell just to be sure he wasn't freaked out and he wasn't. I didn't count those reps in my final tally.
I'm still resisting the urge to use stride regulators and other props. I hate the idea of yet more stuff to fade. If I can't get him successful out at the field I may give in and use a stride regulator for a few reps. I've tried this already and he's fine with it there but take it away and the behavior doesn't necessarily stick. It's been a while though and may be worth revisiting.
First though I'm going to experiment more with turns and especially flips away to a tunnel. I've noticed that when we practice turns he's significantly more successful and maybe for him this is the easier scenario while running straight is harder. We'll see how it goes.