Friday, March 25, 2011

Throw like a girl

Today I started with a jump at the end of the dogwalk.  The original plan was to wait until I had a higher success rate without it but I wanted to see how the mechanics of throwing a toy over the jump were going to work.  I also used a Kong at the end of a rope for the low value toy in hopes I would be able to throw it better.  I still used his red chicken for the high value toy.  The conclusion of this little experiment is that I'm not so very good with the throwing, not a surprise to me and the main reason I don't typically train with thrown toys but I'm hoping with some practice I can get better.  I found it a near impossible challenge to run to the end of the dogwalk, throw the first toy accurately over the jump, watch the contact zone then remember to throw the second toy only if successful.  It was kind of a comedy routine, or maybe a tragedy depending on how you want to look at it.  For one rep. I forgot to throw the first toy entirely and I got a terrible leap as Strum was looking at me and the toy instead of ahead.  I ended up having to lead out to the downramp in order to pull it all off and for a few reps. the little stinker ran straight to me and the toy rather than taking the dogwalk.  I had to keep my eye on him until he was committed to the walk which added another challenge to the equation.


Cool morning, mid-30's, sunny, calm

6/10 (60%) hits, all full dogwalks (no backchaining)

20" Jump after the dogwalk for some reps. but not for others.  I rotated the jump in and out as I tried to get comfortable with the toy throwing.  First few reps. had a jump after the dogwalk.

Lots of weirdness with his gait though the latter reps. were getting better.  More jumping off the dogwalk than I normally see which was my worry with using toys but this could be more due to my atrocious throwing.  I was trying to throw farther this time as well.  I'm going to keep up with it next week, we'll see how it goes.  Strum gets the whole weekend off because I have a class but I think I should get in some throwing practice in the yard before I leave for class in the morning.  Because my neighbors don't already think I'm weird enough.


  1. Hmm, it looks to me like he's thinking a lot, trying to find the right combination of footfalls...

    I think it's looking good as long as you remember to throw ahead before he reaches the contact and as long as you judge contacts correctly.

    I do it similarly to how you did it at 0:23. Keeping the toy visible and low while he's close to the contact helped Ruby stay "grounded" in the beginning. Now it's not that important anymore, but I got used to mechanics of it, so I still mostly do it that way.
    You can see it in this video:

    The combination of "running-looking behind me-judging the contact-marking the contact-throwing the right toy-then the other toy" was difficult for me as well. I used to visualize it while playing it out in slow motion when I was alone. Oh, it's good to know I'm not the only one who finds this difficult! :)

    I keep the jump only a few inches off the ground for two reasons:
    - Ruby tends to add strides before jumps and I don't want that
    - it's easier to throw over a low jump :)

    But I did start out without a jump, then Silvia suggested it as a better way to focus Ruby ahead. So you could do it without a jump until you both get used to two-toy stuff, or perhaps do a couple of sessions with the down ramp only to help him get the red toy more often.

    I would be really careful not to leave the dog with impression that he was rewarded with the first toy, because that would erode what you already taught him about the dog walk. Ruby is quite disappointed if he doesn't get the second toy, which is good :)

    Well, in all truth, I now throw three toys (but I started with two): low value, middle value for high contacts or almost-made contacts and very high value one for low contacts. You can see disappointment on his face if he doesn't get his jackpot ball. He won't even pick up any of the other two toys when he knows he could be earning the jackpot - which is fine by me, as long as he runs to them without looking back.

  2. It's funny, I was out riding my bike yesterday thinking of dogwalk training and it occurred to me to lower the jump so throwing would be easier so I'm glad you mentioned that it's o.k. I was also thinking that maybe it would mess up his striding but it would be worth a try. So I'm glad to hear it works for you. I want to introduce the jump as soon as possible, he's already looking back to me for his second toy, but I do need to work out my mechanics so I think I'll continue switching back and forth.

    I know, I need to be careful not to throw that second toy unless he hits the contact. I'll get the hang of it after another practice or two.

    Your dog's contacts look awesome. And I'm jealous of the boots ; )

    Three toys??! That is PhD level. I'll be happy if I can manage two. But I suppose this is all good practice for keeping my brain and reflexes fit as I get old.

  3. Haha, those boots sure were special :) They broke down shortly afterwards. I was kind of glad :)

    The session on that video had exceptionally nice hits for this setup. It's not like this every time, but we're trying :)

    I'm sure it will get easier to do it all with a bit of practice. I am a terrible thrower and really can't multitask, and yet it somehow works for me (after many, many throws).