Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 4

Progress!  Today we raised the board about 5 inches off the ground.  And we had a high success rate!


Reps:  35
% Success:  97%

1.  Traction.  We're adding paint/sand this weekend.  In case you're wondering, about 36 oz. of sand to a gallon of paint.

2.  Success.  Though we had a high rate of success, I'd like to keep it at this angle one more day.  No point in rushing things.

3.  Speed.  Definitely gaining speed and confidence.  His head is down, and he's looking ahead pretty much every time now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3

It's going to be a quick update.  Puppy Lexi just got spayed, though she doesn't realize it, so most of my energy and efforts are spent keeping her busy, calm and quiet (good luck!)

We only got 30 reps in the video because our neighbor's dog started barking.  We did 10 more later in the evening, and didn't record them.


Reps:  40 (30 in video)
% Success:  87%

1.  Speed.  Seeing a definite increase in speed/confidence.  Of course, his traction gets worse as his speed increases.  Which leads me to...

2.  Traction.  We're going to have to do something about the traction.  A friend of ours recommended mixing paint and sand and painting it, so I think we're going to have to do that.  I wouldn't want him to slide off and get hurt.

3.  Analysis.  I'm still really struggling with this.  Check out the reps at 10 seconds, 29 and 30 seconds.  Are those strides or jumps?!  I'm still not sure.

4.  Trial.  Depressing thought, I guess we're only entering gamblers (no snooker) offered in our upcoming trial.   Obviously for a good reason, but still a bit of a bummer.

5.  Graduation.  Woohoo!  High success rate!  We'll add a block or step under the board tomorrow and see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 is done!  Man, it's going to be a long summer.

First, some comments that I got from a friend whose dogs have great contacts.  She actually recommended the Trkman method to me.
1--Make sure to click when Bentley hits the yellow.  We had previously been clicking as he strides off the board--oops!
2--Make sure he is driving towards something and not looking at us for the treat.  We do have a bowl outside of the view of the camera, which is where the chicken is.  However, Bentley is so handler focused that he would rather watch us to make sure we're not doing something different that he doesn't look ahead.


Reps:  43
% Success:  81%

1. Success.  The good thing is that his success rate increased drastically!  I'm not sure if he's getting it, or we're making it too easy, or if it was luck, but I'm happy about that.  Our goal is 85% success before moving the board.  If it gets significantly worse, then we move it back to flat.

2.  Traction.  The board is really slippery.  I'm not sure if there is a textured paint or some sort of paper we could glue to it.  It's no big deal now, but once we add angles it's going to be hard for Bentley to stride without sliding.

3. Speed.  He did seem a bit faster today.  "Bit" being the key word, but I'll take it.  I imagine days upon days of this should really build his confidence if nothing else.  We did start sending him into a tunnel (can't see it in the video) and that seemed to help a little.  I also think it helped him think about it.

4.  Improvement.  He also improved as the session went on.  He missed 6 in the first 15 reps, and only 2 after that.

5.  Analysis.  Today seemed even harder to tell if he was jumping or striding.  Sometimes he does what i call a "bounce" and I don't know whether or not to reward can probably hear my late clicking as I debate (not good).  I'm working on this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 1

So Day 1 is in the books!

Sorry about the bad words, it took me so long to edit and put the video together that I'm too tired to try to change the song.

Reps:  40
% Success:  65%

1.  Speed.  The faster we go, the more of a tendency he has to jump off the end.  However, if we slow down, he practically walks to the end of the board.  I think he does better towards the end, so I hope that this will come with repetition.

2.  Independence.  The good thing about this exercise is that it allows me to work in a lot of different places.  In the video, you'll see that in some cases we stay behind, in others we're on the left or on the right, running with him, walking, etc... This will hopefully eliminate another problem that Bentley has which is that he is very hesitant to perform contacts independently of us.

3.  Analysis.  The hardest part is determining what is a "jump" and what is a "running stride".  Some are obvious (like the first one!) and some are not.  I hope to get a better eye as we progress.

The Set Up

Went to Lowe's, bought a 12' by 1' board, and painted it.  The specs, in case anyone's wondering are 36" of contact zone on either end (this applies to the dog walk and the teeter...the a-frame is 42")

Note that our backyard is rather small...and unfortunately we'll have to keep Bentley leashed as the neighbor's cat loves to come out and taunt us while we work!

Video of Day 1 to come...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Plan

Brief Introduction
I've decided to create a blog dedicated to my summer contact retraining of my sheltie, Bentley.  He's a great, biddable little dog with horrible contacts.  He's managed to string enough Qs together to get into advanced, but his contacts are worse and worse so it's time for drastic measures.  We plan to retrain his 2o2o (2 on, 2 off) contacts to become running contacts.  This is my summer project, and this blog is a way for me to measure his progress (and mine, too!).

Here's a video from his most recent Standard run.  It was the last run of the trial and his contacts detoriorated as the trial went on.  So without further ado, here is our
"In the beginning..." video:

With that out of the way, our plan is to follow Silvia Trkman's method.  Being the novice handler that I am, I'm not really sure I understand all of the methods out there.  I did eliminate Rachel Sanders' box method because it expects the dog to have 2 contacts on the up and 2 contacts on the down of the A-frame.  This seems unreasonable to ask of Bentley (not a fast, excitable dog).  The Trkman method (slowly) teaches the dog to correctly stride to the end of the contact obstacle, starting with flat work.

Here's a good website with some information:

Two Main Concerns of a Running Dogwalk:
1-- Accuracy:  It seems that many argue that a 100% rate of meetiing criteria is impossible, or difficult.  Obviously others disagree.  My thought is this--what we are doing now is NOT working.  We have tried over the past few months to start over with 2o2o, with little improvement.  If we could get Bentley to a high rate of success (not 100%), I would be satisfied.  We aren't out to make Nationals, so I'm okay with less than 100% success.
2--Speed:  The other big concern is whether or not you can keep up with a dog that has a running dogwalk.  The advantage of 2o2o with a speedy dog is that it allows the handler to catch up and direct the dog to the next obstacle.  The reason that I am not concerned about this is that I have come to the conclusion that Bentley will never be an extremely fast dog.  He is too cautious.  It is in his personality.  I guarantee that I can beat him to the end of the dog walk every time, 2o2o or running, either way.  As of now, it takes him almost 4 seconds on the obstacle (with a target plate, so the "creeping factor" isn't slowing him down when clocked at 4 seconds).

Starting tomorrow, 4/26, the plan is to get Bentley outside working on flatwork (just a board 12' long, 1' wide  with a contact zone painted on) until he has a high rate of success striding to the end of the board.  Clicking and rewarding for correct strides, ignoring and trying again for jumping off of the board.

I have no idea what to expect, so we shall see how it goes.  Expect more tomorrow!