Saturday, October 02, 2010

Running dogwalk turns

I've been on a mission to get the 180 degree flip from dogwalk to tunnel on a verbal.  I thought I mostly had it but DOCNA Champs showed me that oh no I don't.

Even though I have a practice tunnel I decided to use a plastic lawn chair for him to run around because for one I could get in a lot more reps without having to wait for him to run through the tunnel and also because it's a wider turn and easier on his body.  In theory anyway.  That silly dog refuses to have any respect at all for his body no matter how I try to help him.

I've been working with the chairs for a few days now, several quick sessions a day and it took a good 3 days before he seemed to have any clue as to what I wanted.  After he failed for the third time in a row I'd give him some physical cues to help him then take them away and he'd be back to making mistakes, ie not turning away on the verbal cue and running straight ahead.

Yesterday's last session saw over 80% success though as did this morning's so this afternoon I broke out the tunnel and he's been near perfect.  Sort of.  After watching the video I'm not entirely happy with the performance.  He's not running to the bottom and turning but rather turning before reaching the end and sliding down the plank a bit.  He hits the yellow but if he takes to diving in the tunnel before running through the bottom of the plank he could easily start missing and in fact he did this on the A-frame at Champs.  He wasn't running to the bottom either with the chair and I was rewarding it.  The last rep isn't too bad and part of the problem I think is that I need to repaint/resand my contacts.  Glad I finally shot some video before I got too far along.

Some of the reps were straight ahead runs to a jump that was off screen.  My camera doesn't zoom out far enough to catch all the action and my yard is so small I can't place it farther away.  I had a lot of reps go straight because I don't want him learning to automatically dive into a tunnel whenever he sees one under the dogwalk.  He was starting to do that last summer.

Though I want the turn on a verbal I have been helping him out by remaining stopped and facing the side of the dogwalk towards the way I want him to turn when there's a turn and facing straight and moving forward when I want him to go straight.  If I want him to turn towards me I call his name and face the direction I want him to turn and indicate with an arm.  I'll get some video of that.  I didn't think he was having problems with that but now I want to see for myself on video what's going on.

Practice tomorrow, I'll see if I can get my training partner to shoot more video.
Dogwalk Turns 10-2-2010 from colliebrains on Vimeo.


  1. That maeuver's definitely one of the scary ones (for me) when thinking about running dogwalks. Interesting to see how someone's approaching it.

  2. Even without a running dogwalk it's nice to have that flip on a verbal so you don't have to babysit it and get behind on the course.

  3. Silvia T. uses a pvc pole for the dog to wrap around. She eventually fades the pole.

  4. I was using the PVC pole some time back when I was teaching him to turn towards me and it worked fine. But for the verbal turn away I knew I'd be doing a lot more reps and I didn't want him turning so tightly for so may reps. The lawn chair encouraged a wider turn that would be easier on his body.

    Now that we're working with a tunnel I may have to put the PVC piece back but I hate having to fade props so I've been avoiding it.

  5. My dogs have a pretty good right/left that I use for that, but they (in theory) stop at the bottom, so my timing in giving the command doesn't have to be spot on; I wait until they're in position and then give it. If they're running full speed, you've got to give the command not too soon and not too late, which sounds intimidating!

  6. Wait--and the chair *isn't* a prop that you're going to have to fade?

  7. The chair is only to teach him the meaning of 'turn'. It's not meant to teach him the mechanics of how to get that done and when there's a tunnel the turn is going to be a lot tighter so the mechanics will be different.

    I taught him 'turn' on the flat but I didn't break the steps down enough when I tried to use it on the equipment. He was having so much failure in the yard with the tunnel at first so I replaced the tunnel with the chair to give him something obvious to turn around and to not have so much failure with a piece of agility equipment. I didn't have to fade it at all, once he had two sessions at over 80% success I replaced the chair with the tunnel and never looked back.

    However now that he knows what 'turn' means in this context I have to teach him that he has to run to the bottom and then turn, not dive into the tunnel from the side of the board. The PVC would help with this but would be more like a prop that I'd have to fade. If I get desperate enough absolutely I'll go back to using it but I'm hoping he'll figure it out for himself.

  8. Timing the cue isn't that hard. I've been playing around with it and if I tell him sometime between when he's at the top of the down ramp and the top third of the down ramp it's plenty of time. Honestly, watching that video again, I think he's cueing off my lack of motion and shoulder position rather than the verbal but that's fine, those are easy cues to give as well.

  9. Awwww, Cody!! What a prince. Loved seeing him in action there.

  10. Of course, Strummer's looking good too.