Archive for June, 2012

About two weeks ago, I introduced Jagger to the idea of running across the entire, lowered dogwalk. Here is the setup:

log dogwalk setup

Curved tunnel approach to lowered dogwalk

When I trained Copper to run his contacts, he already knew that he was supposed to run all the way across the dogwalk planks. So, it was a new and somewhat unexpected experience for me that Jagger took quite a bit of convincing to run on the planks exclusively. At first, I started him from a collar restraint at the beginning of the down ramp and released him to chase a thrown toy. Over the course of about three sessions and several days, I gradually backed him up until he could run across the entire dogwalk. As you will see in the videos below, I did have to add some barriers to help him stay on. I plan to fade those as the obstacle is raised.

At the end of our third session of chasing the toy down the planks from a collar restraint, we had a huge breakthrough and Jagger did his last attempt of the session at speed from the tunnel. I had a huge party for him after that success and immediately ended the session. I wanted him to really think about that attempt. You might not think that dogs, as creatures who live so much in the present, think much about training after it concludes, but I am convinced that they do. There was many a time I spent only a brief period teaching Copper a new skill, and low and behold several weeks later he remembered it.

All the same, I wasn’t sure what to expect of our first “real” session at speed across the dogwalk so I didn’t tape it. Jagger gave me a few attempts at running on the grass next to the planks or jumping off them, but quickly remembered what I wanted. Here is our second session, which I deliberately kept very short since this is a new skill:

There is some crazy stuff going on with his legs, but I think he is starting to figure out his footing better. We are continuing to work on tricks for hind end awareness and balance.

Here is our third session, which I think is much better in the hind foot coordination department:

The funny thing about this session is that I had been traveling, so we had not trained in almost a week. I let Jagger out into the back yard and he offered a lovely run across the dogwalk all by himself before I was even off the patio (of course the camera was not running yet!). This dog is hilarious. Then he waited as you see in the beginning of the video for me to hurry up and start the fun. He was so eager that I felt comfortable doing a much longer session with him this time.

Next step: gradually raising the planks

 

It’s been a while since I did a blog update, but we have been very busy! The tricks Jagger is now learning aren’t as quick to master as the earlier ones, so there isn’t a big exciting video montage to share. I have also been taking Jag hiking quite a bit, and trying to just let him be a dog as much as possible.

It hasn’t been all R&R, though! Earlier this month, we started Silvia Trkman’s online running contact course. I had trained Copper’s running contacts on my own with guidance from various, more skilled people’s YouTube videos. But, this time around I wanted professional guidance!

Our first steps have involved brushing up on some of our hind-foot awareness tricks:

and taking a good look at how Jagger looks when he runs on flat ground. Ideally, I want him to look the same running across the full height dogwalk as he does running across flat grass. This is the image I will keep in mind as we progress:

The first steps down the running contact path involve teaching Jagger to run on a flat plank just as he would on the ground. No jumping off the end, no leaping, no forgetting to run on the plank and running on the grass instead.  Well, we struggle a bit with that last one, but as long as he remembers to get on the plank we have been making good progress. Here are some of our early sessions:

My main observation is that I am *amazed* at how easy it is to get Jagger to RUN. After working so hard to motivate Copper, it almost feels like cheating to have this crazy border collie who just enjoys sprinting 100 miles an hour in and of itself.

Next step, on to a plank on a slight slope!