Sunday, December 19, 2010

Running Dogwalk/A-Frame End of Year Stats

I thought it would be interesting to compile the dogwalk and A-frame results from this past year's trials to see how we did.  Also I can easily look up trials where we did well then check my training the few weeks before and likewise for trials where we didn't do so well.  Sometimes the atmosphere of the trial itself as well as Strum's mood on the day had more bearing on contact performances for sure but it's still nice to be able to look back at training patterns to see what had the best effects.  All dates are for 2010.

Jan 3 USDAA - 0/1 DW = 0%
                        1/1 AF = 100%

Feb. 2010 DOCNA - No Stats

April 3-4 USDAA - 1/2 DW?
                             1 missed AF (Snooker)

May 8 USDAA - 1/2 DW - 50%
                          1/1 AF? - 100%?

May 22-23 DOCNA - No Stats

May 29-30 DOCNA - 6/10 DW (rubber, no slats) - 60%
                                 10/10 AF (rubber, no slats, 5' high) - 100%

June 26 USDAA - 2/2 DW (or 1/1?) - 100%
                           2/2 AF (or 3/3?) - 100%

July 31-Aug. 1 DOCNA - 10/11 DW - 91%
                                       8/8 AF - 100%

Aug. 9 UKI - 2/2 DW - 100%
                    2/3 AF - 67%

Aug. 14-15 DOCNA - No stats, just a note that DW success rate is improving slightly and some
                                 fantastic 180 degree flips off the DW and AF into tunnels on a verbal cue.

Sept. 22-25 DOCNA Champs - No stats just a note that we missed 2 DW to tunnel flips

Oct. DOCNA - 8/10 DW - 80%
                       10/11 AF - 91%

Dec. DOCNA - 4/11 DW - 36%
                        6/8 AF - 75%

Some of my stats were from memory in that the trial report said only '100% on AF's' so I counted up the number of AF's I thought we did.  This is more for noticing general trends rather than getting too nit picky.

Final end of year stats counting only reps. that I was sure of: 

Dogwalk:  32/48 = 67%

A-frame:  39/43 = 91%

The worst trial was the very last one in December and if you remove that trial the stats go up to:

Dogwalk:  28/37 = 76%

A-frame:  33/35 = 94%

And in fact it was mostly Sunday that brought down the numbers for that December trial (5 of the 7 misses were on Sunday).  Strum had a bad day in general on Sunday as far as his behavior and mental state so it makes sense that his contact performance suffered.  Interesting how one bad day can bring down the numbers so significantly for the whole year and why it's important to look at general trends.

The second set of numbers matches my own perception of his contact performance in trials so it's good that I have a realistic idea in my mind of what's going on in the ring.

A week after the trial I took him out to the training field to run a full course (the Standard Finals run from the AKC Invitational) and he flew off the dogwalk right off the bat.  I tried a few more times and same result.  So I tried to backchain it by having him start at the top of the down ramp and he still couldn't get it.  SO frustrating.  I finally had to stand right in front of the dogwalk ramp.  I eventually got a few hits and called it a day for the dogwalk because once he gets in one of those loops of constantly doing it wrong it's hard to get him out and best to give it a rest for the day.  I was using his much beloved squeaky chicken for reward and this didn't help as he was so excited to get it that it was all he could think about.

Yesterday I decided some remedial work was in order so I broke out the remote control treat dispensing gizmo and put the toys away for the session.  I was determined to reward only those hits that were obvious so there was one hit that I didn't reward.  There was also one that was a hit but too close and I shouldn't have rewarded it but I did.  These were my only mistakes with rewards.

I'm of 2 minds about rewarding those hits that are back feet only.  Technically they're clean if the judge can see them properly.  Silvia accepts these for her dogs.  Strum was doing them at the Daisy Peel seminar and she said they were acceptable.  In watching the video it's true that he's not leaping but it seems to speak to a lack of understanding of the behavior.  And I think it's harder for the judge to see.  A judge that's hostile to running contacts might call it.  And there are times where he just misses with his back feet (this is what happened in the 'close call' rep that I rewarded).  On the other hand I think there's a danger in being too picky.  For now I think I'll reward the very obvious ones and see where that leads us.

Results for the training session were 11/15  or 73%, right in line with his typical performance.

Yet more video.  I know, some of you are sick to death of the video but this is helpful to me when I go back to check training progress.  I know, 'Will she never be done training the wretched dogwalk?' is what you're thinking.  Believe me, I'm thinking the same thing.


  1. Bud Houston has an interesting post about running contacts on his blog http;//
    He talks about handlers racing to support the dismount, which ends up giving the dog a speed cue that doesn't help with a controlled dismount. In several of the sequences in your video, it looks like maybe that is what's happening. Hard to tell, though,not knowing what you're thinking when you're running.

    Please don't quit posting the videos -- it's always great to watch other people handle.

  2. Ah, that's a very good point and one I did mean to bring up in my post and forgot to mention. The video doesn't show it but there's a curved tunnel at the entrance to the dogwalk. For the 2 reps of the full dogwalk where he had the bad leaps I had started out by sending him through the tunnel then racing to the end so I could be sure I saw what happened at the down contact. LOTS of forward motion cues going on there plus the speed from the tunnel and I'm sure that's what led to the giant leaps. The rep of the full dogwalk that he finally got happened when I left him in a sit-stay and released him to the dogwalk then calmly made my way to the end. Absolutely my motion has an effect on him despite my efforts from the start at training an independent dogwalk. I'm sort of at odds with myself at the moment over how much independence I want and also how much I'm willing/able to try to teach.

    I read Bud's post and I disagree with it. I think you can teach a real running dogwalk where the dog is RUNNING and I even think you can teach it to be independent. There are a few handlers out there that have this, one of these days I'll compile some Youtube of them. They are precious few though and it's not a task for the meek. Bud says his dog has a running contact but that it evolved from releasing a 2on/2off. I've never seen his dog so I can't say for sure but it sounds like maybe he has a dog that decelerates on the down ramp to hit the contact but then keeps going rather than stopping for the 2on/2off. This is very different from a true running contact where the dog is running the whole way and does not slow or collect on the down ramp. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that performance or that I know for sure that that's what he has but it's not a true running contact and it does carry the danger of eroding just like any other end behavior.

    I do have a more independent performance and a higher success rate on the A-frame. I can run forward to get ahead with a lot of speed and forward motion cues and he'll perform the A-frame properly. I can even get a blind cross in sometimes. And I spent a fraction of the time on the A-frame, hardly ever work on it. So funny how that works.

    It's good to know someone is interested in the video. I make them up for myself anyway and figure I may as well post them in case it helps somebody somewhere. I had stopped posting every last one because I worry people find them tedious but maybe I'll start posting them anyway. Good to have some feedback.

  3. Here's a perfect example of the difference in performance of a true running contact and a quick released 2on/2off:

    Also more video of Daisy:


    Sorry I don't know how to make them linky in the comments. Great examples of lots of forward motion that doesn't lead to a missed contact. And she's not managing the end behavior through handling in any way as Bud suggests people with running contacts are doing. This is what I'm aiming for anyway. Sometimes we have it, sometimes not so much, at least with the dogwalk. I'm really happy with the A-frame so far, just need to keep it up.

  4. How to make them linky in the comments-- replace url in these with the actual url:

    (the second url can actually be any text, like "click here")

  5. crap of course it replaced my html with a link.

    To make them linky in the comments: <a href="url">url<a>

  6. Hmmm, I tried using the code but I keep getting an error that says, 'Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not closed:A'

    This is why I'm not a computer geek, even the error message sounds like gibberish. Thanks for trying anyway, one of these days I'll learn rudimentary HTML.

  7. My mistake--the last a should have a slash immediately before it, that is, /a.

  8. We'll see if this works.


  9. Yes, very cool little trick, thanks! I've made a word document for myself of the code so hopefully I'll remember I have it next time I need to do a link in the comments.

  10. The whole point of a running contact is the dog is indeed RUNNING as fast as they can with the weight on the forehand. A moving contact that evolved from a quick/early released 20/20, the dog is shortening his stride (collecting)and shifting weight to the rear on the downramp and then being released early.

  11. Yes, and that video link of the overlay of runs that I posted above shows exactly that difference perfectly. I think some people refer to running contacts as any performance where the dog doesn't stop and it muddies the waters a bit. That's why I'll call them 'true running contacts' when the discussion starts going that way.

    Not too many people around here that I can think of with a true running dogwalk, maybe 3 other than Strummer. Maybe there are some AKC only people that I don't know. A few more people have true running A-frames but again I can think of maybe 3 that don't also have running dogwalks. Lots of people with in-between behaviors though, ie 2on/2off that has evolved into something else either on purpose or accident.

  12. I don't think there's confusion about what's meant by "running contacts." Maybe some people are confused, but I believe that the agility community understands "running contact" the same way you do.

    I'm wondering whether I have any video of Boost's sister Gina. now there's running contacts! (Oh, hmm, they'd be on the tapes for the camera that's broken that I can't play.)

    Aaaannnnd just spent several minutes searching youtube and all I found of this gina was a short blooper of her running into a wing. Great.

    I'll have to remember to video some of their runs next time they're in the area.

  13. Oh yes please, I love seeing videos of other people's running contacts.

    There seemed to be some confusion about what is a true running contact over on the post at Bud's blog (and in the comments) that's referenced above in the comments. He claimed he'd taught his dog a running contact by first training 2 on/2 off and maybe in fact he has, I don't know, I'm just a bit skeptical or maybe curious if it's a true running contact because I've never heard of anyone training it that way and ending up with a dog that's truly running.

  14. I remember a post on Silvia T's blog that referenced a couple of European handlers who had both a running and a stop. They all trained the running first.

    Other than Strummer and Sobe, I don't know of any other dogs with true running dogwalks here in Colorado (AKC and USDAA competitors).

    There are a few who naturally stride through but they don't have a trained RC, just happen to have the right stride. However, it's not independent and it's not trained.

    I start plank work with Soleil this week. I may be emailing you with questions ;-)

  15. Email away but you have seen my success rate, right? ;-)

    Sonya Maas and Mataya were the first with a running dogwalk that I remember seeing around here. I know she's not from CO but I sorta consider her a local because she trials here so often. Also Katherine Elliott and Whim. And of course Stacy and Sobe as you said. I've done precious little USDAA this year so maybe Sonya and Katherine switched but last I saw them they both had trained running dogwalks.

  16. Whim's running contacts are not trained and Kat needs to be there at the DW to manage them (they are not trained and independent). She is in the process of training RC's with her BC, Amp. He's not competing yet.