Here’s another update on Wilco’s running contacts. Yesterday, we worked on turning to me and running straight to the tunnel in the same session:
I’m so excited about his progress with the dogwalk. I’m also very happy about his weaving. I need to control myself and train some handling tonight instead. And I started shaping a 2o2o for the seesaw today. Just shaping him to step down from a sofa cushion and face forward to get a reward. I will then transition it to a box outdoors and add some speed and handler motion. From there, I’ll transfer it to the end of the seesaw.
Wilco turned 17 months old today. We’re having a lot of fun with learning running contacts, weaves and handling. His progression on the running contacts last week was amazing. We went from 30 cm to 120 cm in just two days of training. Then we took a break for four days while I was away with the older dogs. Today, I decided to try some soft turns off the dogwalk. Mostly because I was too lazy to set up the tunnel for straight exits. And because I was excited to know what he would do with the turning. I used a pole at the end of the dogwalk so that he wouldn’t come off the side. I used “jajaja” as a cue for soft turns/attention (follow me), and I rewarded from my hand if he met criteria. He wasn’t always perfect, but had some really nice hits!
We’re also working on weaves. I started teaching him to find the entry on a set of two poles. Then I borrowed this channel weave set from a friend, because I felt like I wanted to go to 12 poles much earlier than I’ve done with the older dogs (taught by the 2×2 method). This is pretty much like the 2×2 method, just with six sets of two from much earlier on in training. Tonight was the first session where I rewarded from my hand (instead of throwing ahead) and where I tried to teach him to stay in the poles even when I move in front. He learns so quickly!
Spring is really here now and I’m enjoying every day. All my agility equipment is at home again and we’re mostly working on contacts, weaves and jump grids right now. Squid’s running contacts have been a bigger challenge than Shejpa’s and Missy’s. Both Shejpa and Missy chose a nice style right from the start and was pretty consistent with hind feet at the end of the contact when running straight. Squid has chose to push off with her hind feet on the ground right after the plank. It doesn’t seem as efficient to me, and it also seems that she is more likely to stride over the contact. I have been experimenting with stride regulators to get her to change her techique, but she always goes back to her old style. I have decided to let her do it in her own way, as long as she’s got at least one front paw on the lowest 2/3 of the contact. We’ll see how it works out when we start sequencing. I’m glad that she is challenging both my training and my observational skills (it’s a lot harder to see if she’s correct, since she never jumps, just strides over the contact and puts her back paw on the ground less than a centimeter from the contact). Here are some videos from a few weeks back:
When we’re not working on our agility skills, we’re spending time herding sheep. Squid is really doing well and she is going to her first trial in two weeks. Thomas bought a 7 month old border collie girl from Derek Scrimgeour in England a few weeks ago. Her name is Jen and she is a very nice dog. Calm, sweet and soft. She is starting to learn the basics of herding. We’re also training Squid’s mother Fly at the moment, and will be doing some trials with her this summer. She is so much like her daughter and it’s great to have her here.
I started to work on Missy and Shejpa’s running dogwalks again this week, focusing on turning. I did that once before, but felt that the whole behavior was breaking down. Most dogs with running dogwalks does not seem to be that good at turning and I felt that maybe I should just run them and then turn them tighter and tighter as they got more experienced. But I didn’t really like that solution, I like to really teach my dogs things. So I tried again this week and it seems like I’ve had more success. I have focused on criteria and with Missy, I have used a target briefly (that didn’t alter her striding, but made her more aware of my criteria) and with Shejpa I used a stick in the ground for her to run around (also very briefly, for just a session). It only took Shejpa two sessions before I almost couldn’t make her fail. I could send her from behind the dogwalk and stand still, I could run laterally away and serp, I could turn her 180 degrees to a tunnel or a jump. She does slow down when I hang back, but I guess she’ll pick up speed when she gets more confident.
Before I went to Helsinki yesterday, I made a video of Missy’s running dogwalk. We havn’t been training dogwalks for a month, but when I get back home, I’ll start the “real” training. I also timed it and it’s pretty consistent at 1.25s when she’s going straight.
It’s been a hectic month and I have hardly been at home at all. We went away for two weeks after the trial, hunting and teaching, and a friend of mine stayed at our place and took care of my dogs. They were fine, but I think Shejpa really missed me. Missy just ran out the door to say hi to Thomas when I opened it to say hi to her when we got home. I look forward to having more time at home in october (even though I have three weekends of teaching away from home) and I look forward to visiting the puppies again.
This weekend will be Shejpa’s debut in agility. She’s entered in three classes (jumpers, standard and open jumpers (unofficial)) on Saturday and jumpers + standard on Sunday. Both Missy and Pavlov (Thomas’ border collie) are entered in jumpers both days. Shejpa did her last training session today, I think she needs to rest in order to be at her best on Saturday. Missy, on the other hand, needs a lot of training to keep cool and I will do some more double box with her tomorrow.
We focused on discriminating between dogwalk and seesaw in todays session with Shejpa. She is very inexperienced and did her first full seesaw just yesterday. I will definatly need to help her by using my decel to get her to weight shift on the seesaw, but we will try it and then go back and perfect her performance for the rest of this fall. No more trials until January, since I work a lot. Shejpas dogwalks look great, she is turning nicely, but she might turn into me instead of going straight if I get to far behind. She is also sometimes not as good on a new dogwalk the first time, so we need some element of luck on Saturday. I really look forward to the trial, I havn’t ran any of my dogs in a trial for almost 1,5 years.
Here is a video from today
And here is a video from yesterday showing some of her first seesaws. She was a lot better in the session before, then I went to get the camera and she was a bit tired for this session. Looks ok for the first time, I guess:
I’m teaching handling in Trondheim this weekend and I brought Shejpa with me. A good thing about that is that I get to try her on new kinds of equipment and today we worked on an old dog walk made of aluminum with carpet and really thick wooden slats. We have worked for two days on turning off the dogwalk using a stick in the ground for her to run around at the end of the dogwalk (just at the corner closest to me). It seems to have helped a lot already. I was planning to fade it gradually, but today she just seemed to do it perfectly with no stick anyway. I could do any turn that I tried. Recalling over the dogwalk with me in lead out position at A, B or C (running her from right to left to A and from left to right to B/C), running in to front cross position at A, B or C and running into serpentine position at jump A – 10 meters from the dogwalk. I hardly ran her straight at all and she was still almost perfect and turned tightly (she seems to acctually run on the side of the contact to be able to turn better. I hope the judges put on their glasses, it was even hard for me to judge with a dark carpet on the contacts, dark ground and black paws.
Here are some of the sequences that the group ran today:
My friend Karine came over today for some agility training. I wanted to make a video of our seesaw training, but Shejpa did not have a good day. I made a video, but it’s nothing exciting about it really. We should be doing more advanced things really, and we did yesterday. Anyway. Here’s the video:
We also set up a course because I wanted to run weave poles, dogwalk and a-frame in a course with Shejpa. It was the first time I turned her after the dogwalk when running it i a sequence and she was good even though I turned her twice the same way. Her a-frame looks consistant. It’s not as deep anymore and I’m happy with that as long as she consistantly hits the yellow. It’s not a very good video, but perhaps the music will make up for that 😀
Missy got mostly rest today because she has burned a pad om her front paw (maybe from to many dogwalks, maybe from going on a bike ride with Thomas last week). I did some agility with her, mostly proofing weaves (Yes, we need to do that more often, she has problems with me running hard when she enters the poles). I also tried the a-frame with her for the first time. She was really good when I started her from the top and ran her down (full a-frame). Then she did a really good full dogwalk. I tried once more and she just leapt from the top of the dogwalk and landed on the ground. I tried it again, thinking that she wouldn’t make that misstake twice. She did. It looked really bad. Fortunatly, our physioterapeut/vet and friend Laxmi came by later and checked Missy thoroughly and found nothing wrong. I was very happy that I had warmed Missy up well before we did agility today…
Justine Davenport has been here for four days teaching and we’ve had a great time with lot’s of training for the dogs. Justine did four days of handling (one day flatwork, one day double box, one day rear crosses and one day of running courses). It was really good and I think everybody was extremly happy. I’m to tired to write a lot right now, I have to come back to some of the things that I learned and did. Shejpa has worked a lot on her running contacts in the evening. She’s good when she can run straight after the dogwalk, but we still have to work through different angles coming off the dogwalk. I guess it’s just something we have to work on, like how you gradually raise the plank and add handler motion. She is making progress.
Missy started her runnig contacts training on monday night. We started with a plank on the ground. Yesterday, we added height and raised the plank a bit. And tonight, Missy was running a full height dogwalk. Missy is easier to train than Shejpa in many ways, and I’ve learned a lot from teaching Shejpa. But I never thought we would come this far in two days! We obviously still have a lot of work to do, but I’m very pleased with us both so far 🙂 Here’s a video of our first session on a full dogwalk:
Five out of five perfect contacts in this afternoon session. We’re doing a speed circle with dogwalk and a-frame. Three dogwalks and two a-frames in this video. Running a speed circle seems to help her to focus forward and all I do is click and throw a toy when she’s correct.