Sunday, April 17, 2011

Agility weekly wrap-up

Had a fun handling practice this morning in the wind.  I felt like I was doing o.k. and handling things smoothly, thinking about things but not overthinking.  Then I got home and saw the video and realized how many mistakes there were.  Oh well, I had fun anyway.  We had some back sides of jumps in Exercise #1 and a threadle in Exercise #3 that took me a while to recognize as a threadle.  I struggled with it a bit then realized, duh, it's a threadle and once I handled it like a threadle it was no problemo.

I probably should have stopped at the coffee shop on the way to practice, apparently I'm still a little out of it at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday.

Dogwalk practice this week went downhill once again but I changed the set-up and expected a degradation on the behavior.  I replaced the jump at the end of the dogwalk with a tunnel and this has always been a problem for Strummer.  I have lots of theories about the why of it but not so many about how to fix it other than to keep at it until he gets it.  These videos go back in time as you go down the post.  I'm mostly posting them for myself, nothing too impressive to see in any of them.  I'm hoping he starts getting it next week or I may go back to the jump just so he can have some success again.  Next trial is in 3 weeks, ugh.  I was so sure I'd have this fixed by now.

Friday, April 15


8/15 (53%) total

8/10 (80%) backchained

0/5 (0%) full

Wednesday April 13


8/12 (67%) total

5/6 (83%) low dogwalk

3/4 (75%) low dogwalk backchained

2/2 (100%) low dogwalk full

3/6 (50%) regular dogwalk

2/5 (40%) regular dogwalk backchained

1/1 (100%) regular dogwalk full

The dogwalk was lowered when I got to the training field so I thought I'd see if he would have problems with the low dogwalk.  He did great and what that tells me is that he does have a good foundation.  These stats aren't accurate either because I had some technical problems with the camera and I missed a good chunk of practice on the high dogwalk that did not go well.  One of the more frustrating practices I've had in some time and I got a bit mad at myself for getting frustrated.  Even through Friday's practice didn't go well I made sure that I had a much better attitude about it.

April 7


5/11 (45%) total

2/5 (45%) backchained

3/6 (50%) full

This was the first time with the new dogwalk-tunnel set-up so I started out with some backchaining but it didn't seem to matter, he was still missing quite a bit.  I realize now it was nearly a week until I tried again so I must have been fairly discouraged.


  1. Yeah, I tend to get frustrated when things get worse as well, even if it was me that changed the situation. Not that it ever helps me make good decisions :)

    He had some lovely runs on the lowered dogwalk. They looked so much more comfortable to me, but then again there's no way he could do something like 0:41 (April 13th) on full height dogwalk. He landed on the seal between down ramp and middle ramp.

    This time I noticed that he shortens the stride on the down ramp when you decelerate. I think that's why he was able to hit the contact on the last try on April 13th. Now you can either make sure you run all the way through every time or you can use that in the upcoming trial :)

    I wonder what would happen if you did more backchaining reps from further back, say a few from middle of the middle ramp, a few from the upper side of the up ramp and a few from the lower side of the up ramp.

    His striding is very different if he only does the down ramp (as is for all dogs). That's why I think what he does or doesn't do on the down ramp has very little to do with the whole dog walk, except it can remind him what you're looking for.

  2. Yeah, the down ramp only is a very different effort from the full dogwalk, especially for a fast, long strided dog like Strummer. I did do a bunch more back chaining from different places on the dogwalk on April 13th but I didn't catch it on video due to problems with the camera. He was still missing just as much anyway. Though I think maybe I'll try it some more anyway and see what happens mostly because I'm out of things to try. I resort to the back chaining when he has 2 misses on the full dogwalk in a row mostly because I don't know what else to do. And I also find that if he's missing when he's doing just the down ramp then I'm really going to have problems with the full walk. His biggest problem at the moment is that he's intentionally increasing his last stride, almost like he's trying to miss the down ramp on purpose. Could be he doesn't like the whip from the bottom of the board or more likely he's just trying to reach the ground as fast as he can so he can get to the next obstacle.

    I've been using deceleration to cue a 180 degree turn to a tunnel so that may be part of the reason for the shortened stride because he was anticipating a turn. I can maybe start doing that just to get some success but eventually I'll have to be able to run. Ideally he shouldn't depend on my motion at all but I realize that's never going to happen with this dog.

  3. What I do currently is backchain until I get pretty consistent results with starting from upper part of the up ramp, then I try the whole dogwalk. While backchaining I try to help him by placing him in such a position that his striding will naturally take him into the contact zone as long as he doesn't intentionaly stretch over it. Now this is not perfect (ideally he should be able to start from anywhere and still hit), but the behavior still holds up on the whole dogwalk, so I'll continue doing it.

    Yeah, I know he should be able to do it no matter how you run, but at least you have some options :)

  4. That's a really good idea, to position him during the backchaining so that he's likely to get good striding. I'd been placing him randomly because in reality he'll hit the down ramp in all different positions but for now, since he's struggling, that's a great way to get some success.

    He was still having a hard time again this morning with the tunnel set-up so finally I had to stand facing the dogwalk and this greatly increased his success rate. Once I saw he was getting the contact, I turned to face the tunnel and sent him in. I know it's not ideal, he needs to do this independent of my body position but for now it's the only way I can think of to get him to shorten his stride and hit the contact. I'm going to fade this as quickly as possible, we'll see how he holds up when I fade it.

  5. I did this kind of stuff (turning towards Ruby) too when retraining. Silvia wasn't thrilled, but at the time nothing else worked, so we gave it a shot. It needed lots of fading - first turning away from him and then starting to move. It took us weaks before I could run, but I don't know if it was because standing in front, facing the dog was such a huge crutch or if we were just so messed up anyway :)

    Good luck :)

  6. Yeah, I know Silvia doesn't encourage this kind of thing but we've had such a low success rate (40-50%) for the past 4 sessions with the tunnel that I have to do something. He's not getting it and he's building up muscle memory for the wrong performance.

    I'm hoping I can fade this quickly but we'll see of course. Had a much better practice this morning, I'll post video later. It's not an ideal training set-up but at least I finally have some success to build on.

  7. And Ruby looks awesome right now so obviously your training idea worked for you and hopefully this will work for me as well.