running contacts

Obedience and another video

We finally did som serious obedience training today. We went to a park and set up a ring. Missy had a really bad attitude when we started, it’s obvious that she is affected by the trial-like environment. We took a break and then started with some really easy stuff, just walking into the ring, and starting up. I rewarded her for good focus and attitude, and just started over again outside the ring if she lost her focus. She was soon doing very well and we did all the exercises. I was especially happy about her scented articles, that has been a problem for her in new situations before, but she was really good today. We need to work more on our send to square at home, it’s an exercise that really requires regular training for us. And we havn’t been training that much obedience lately… We’re doing this again tomorrow, in a new park with new people. It’s really good for us!

Here is a video of Shejpa from tonight:

One stride a-frame and missing up contacts – with a cocker :D

It’s really hot here right now and it’s hard to do training. It’s not cold enough until it’s dark. I guess a lot of you live with that all year, but we certainly don’t, so I guess we should be happy. We have long days in the summer and the weather is great (except if you want to do something active…). Fortunatly, Shejpa seems to really enjoy her training on contacts, but she’s not as fast as she could be in the heat. She is a very fast dog, but I really have to work to get her to want to run fast. Her favoutite thing is sniffing while running (but I don’t think many dogs run and sniff that fast) and she’s also likes running very fast away from me 😀

We continued our work with the running contacts yesterday. When Shejpa ran the dogwalk at 1.4s yesterday, she missed the up contact and I know she did it quite a few times. I never thought that I would have that problem with a cocker spaniel, but she is a remarkable little dog with a huge stride. It helped a lot to just take the dogwalk the other way, so that she started with the contact where she’s gotten a lot of clicks on her way down. I got to click correct behavoir on the way up and reward her on the dogwalk. She didn’t jump any more up contacts yesterday, but she might do it again if she picks up speed.

I also worked some more on the down plank contacts. I tried to fade the crate and throw a toy instead. I still had the crate there, but I threw the toy after the click most of the times. She was pretty good, but if she isn’t speeding, she is more likely to jump. I don’t know if I should just keep sending her to something (person or crate) or if I should just work on throwing toys.

We let her run her first a-frames yesterday too. She didn’t miss the yellow many times, but she was not low enough and I will have to lower the a-frame and work through it. She did the whole obstacle in one stride once and got a perfect hit, but I don’t think she’ll do it again and I don’t think she should either. It seems to hard on the body. Is it common with one stride a-frames with the bigger dogs running their a-frame?

I’ll do some more training tonight, when it’s cooler. I think weaves and seesaw will be my focus for the night.

First running contact on full dogwalk!

Shejpa did her first full dogwalk today and we’ve been progressing fast this last week. I got my dogwalk on thursday and let her run from the table and down the ramp on friday. We were away teaching this weekend and Shejpa was with a friend of mine and did no training and I just didn’t have time yesterday. I started with the plank a bit higher today, added about 10 cm. She did great and had a success rate of 80% in her first 10 repetitions. I added about 10 more centimeters at lunch and went from calling her to me when I was sitting with food in front of the plank, to doing all sorts of different handling and sending her to her crate if I was behind. She did great. I put up the full dogwalk tonight for the first time and she had no problems running the down plank, so I started to back chain it. She had some misses, but I think most of them came when she was out of balance and confidence. I think she’ll be even better when she picks up speed and confidence. I sent her to a friend with food so that I got the best possible drive forward. I’ll try with crate or tunnel after the dw tomorrow. I havn’t decided if I’m going to teach her to turn tight after the running dogwalk or if I’m just going to cue her target behavior if we need a turn. I need to work some more on my nose touches anyway, but the stimulus control might be difficult to get.

Here’s a video of Shejpas first dogwalk 🙂

A Chilly Midsummer Week

I have been pretty busy with teaching the past week and it will get worse in July. It’s getting cooler and we’ve had some rain here. I hope we get she sunny weather back in July, when we’re having a lot of camps. Thomas is away for a couple of weeks (working on his masters degree, studying search dogs). I’m home alone with Shejpa and Missy and we’re leaving for Sweden after class tonight. Missy is entered in an obedience trial on Friday (wich is Midsummer Eve, a national holiday). I have a good feeling when we’re training at home, but I also know that we’re not as well prepared as we should be. We havn’t done any serious competition-like training and havn’t trained enough in new locations with strange dogs lately. Missy is unfortunatly sensitive to those kind of things. My goal for the trial on Friday is to have a happy dog who keeps focused and confident.

Shejpa and I have done some more training on our running contacts. I have lowered the plank back to where it’s resting on the table. Mostly because I’m training on my own, but also because I made some other things more difficult. Since I’m training on my own, I can’t have a person with treats for Shejpa to run to. The best way to solve that was to let her run into her soft sided crate where she get’s a treat if I marked the correct behavior on the plank. She loves her cratebut she did initially have more misstakes with the crate compared to when she ran to a person. I think some of it has to do with focus and speed. It is easier to get focus and speed to a person and I need to do some value building for the crate between short sessions of running the plank. She is more likely to look at me when I’m ahead when I’m the one delivering the treat. That made her miss a lot in one session. She’s better when I’m behind and she’s very focused on the crate.

I have noted (from watching videos) that a lot of people training running contacts are doing the exact same thing through their sessions. They are stationary, standing in one spot and not changing their own position at all. I wonder why that is. Most people would agree that changing your position is important in all other agility training (weaves, stop contacts etc.). I also see how much my dog is affected by different body positions and movements, and I wonder if all the nice running contacts I see on video really are that good if you take away the lure and start handling. Any thoughts on this?

Running contacts

This is so weird! I have been training running contacts with Shejpa, but not very often. We’ve done it a couple of times a month and sometimes a bit more. I don’t think we’ve done more than five sessions this year. I did one in April to make a video. Then I had another session in may where I tried to send her between two crates. That session was horrible and she seemed to be jumping just for fun. Yesterday, I got inspired by Justine and did another session. Shejpa was pretty much like she was when we did the video in April – if she hits the plank close to the end on her first stride, she hits the other end of the plank beautifully. If she doesn’t hit the plank well with her first stride, she runs but does not hit the very end of the plank.

I have had plans for a while to just try what she’ll do when I put the plank on an angle, and I tried that yesterday. I also talked to a friend who had sent my video to Silvia Trkman to get her opinion on the criteria. Silvia said that she would reward all of Shejpa’s tries, but jackpot the best ones. I guess I have been very picky with my criteria. I’m always trying to challenge Shejpa and work on her understanding. I have been in every body position and also put the reward on an angle to make sure that she doesn’t jump to the side. But I havn’t got even close to 100% successes with my strict criteria. I guess having strict criteria can make the dog slow down on the down ramp and it might also make it more uncomfortable for the dog to run the dog walk. I like strict criteria, so I have to think about this one…

Anyway. I raised the plank pretty high right away yesterday. I put it against the table and just ran her from the table. She did it so much better on an angle than she does running on the flat! She didn’t fail even my strict criteria and hit the end of the plank almost every time. We did another session today and made a little video of it. I think it looks pretty good, but I also think that I want to put her on the dog walk pretty soon to get more speed (I’ll get my equipment in a week if I’m lucky). We also tried to raise the plank even more and she did well with that. I just think I need to have someone holding the plank so that I can start her further up and get more speed. Here is the video:

I’m very surprised by this development. I thought we’d never get off the plank on the ground because she kept missing the end quite a lot. Now I’m thinking of back chaining the dog walk next week, but there must be something I’m missing here?