Running Contacts – Enter the Dogwalk

Posted: June 13, 2012 in agility foundations, running contacts
Tags: ,

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



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