22 September 2011

Strafe and the dogwalk

Now that Strafe is over a year old, I've been starting to work on his contacts more. You saw his see-saw last week, and we're also working on adding speed to the dogwalk approach. As I've mentioned previously, I haven't done a lot of dogwalks (we've only been doing them maybe every couple weeks), and when we did, i didn't do them at full speed, fast approaches because I wanted him to be mature before we risked falling off - or hopefully avoid falling off because he's more coordinated!

So last week I started adding more distance and speed to his dogwalk approach. Sometimes that totally messes up his striding, and sometimes it doesn't. I made a video today, which I hesitated to upload, but hey, nobody's perfect right? So here is the video, with good and bad reps included. We are working on Strafe learning to adjust his stride at the end of the top ramp, which is something I emphasize when I'm working with other people a lot - most dogs need to put a full stride on the down ramp (2 hits, in other words) if they're going to reliably hit the contact and exit in a balanced manner. Now, if you have a particularly large or crazy dog you can maybe get a one-hit down ramp, but that makes it much harder to turn and the dog is less balanced, and in my opinion, less safe as well.

Right now Strafe is often putting his feet down right ON the 2nd apex, the join between the top and down ramps of the obstacle. This is NOT what I want, and you can see when he does that, that he doesn't land properly and run through the yellow. I will probably be playing around with a couple things to work on it. i feel that he understands the "run" behavior, but just needs to learn where and how to adjust to run properly down the last ramp. This is not uncommon, and I have a lot of experience getting other people's dogs to do it, so I think we'll be fine. Some back-chaining, some work with a regulator, and maybe some more work with a plank on the table, but with a little more speed. We'll get it!

ETA later this afternoon - I went back out and put a stride regulator (small piece of white PVC) across the join between top/down ramps, and did maybe 8 reps at different speeds, and he was 100% perfect - some of them involved funny striding but it definitely helped him along the way to the behavior I want! I will do another video in a week or so to show our progress.

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