Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Running Contacts ala Trkman

A friend up in Minnesota brought in one of his dog walk ramps so his dog could work on his running contacts.  I've tried that before, but I just wasn't able to convince Belle to get up much of a head of steam in our basement.  So I did some trolling on YouTube and ran across a channel where there were a lot of videos loaded showing one dog's progress using Silvia Trkman's method.  I decided what the heck and went outdoors and just tossed a ball so that Belle would run in a straight line (Sunday).  Yesterday, I dug out the teeter plank and set it up on the ground with a set of jump standards next to both ends.  I didn't bother to film yesterday, but it was extremely disheartening.  Belle jumped over the yellow almost every time.  I came back in and ordered Silvia's DVD on running contacts so I could see what I had missed.

In the meantime, today I decided I would place a hoop at the exit of the board.  I doubt that it is something Silvia recommends since it is a prop that has to be faded, but what the heck.  At least it gave us something to do outside in the snow.  Today was much more successful.  Out of 18 tries, I felt 10 of them were good (56%).  Once we achieve an 80% success rate in both directions, I will rotate the board 90°Then I will see how we do without the hoop.

I don't know for sure what Silvia's method for reinforcing the good tries is since every try is rewarded with the ball.  However, luckily, Belle will return the ball to me quite readily, so I chose to not mark the tries where she jumped over the yellow (although a couple of times, I misjudged).  When she hit the yellow, I said "yes" and rewarded her with a tug and/or cookie.  I do look forward to viewing Silvia's video.

Last year, I tried Rachel Sander's method for teaching a running A-frame, and I think it is good method.  However, I overdid the number of reps (which Rachel clearly warns against), and Belle paid the price.  Silvia's method uses the dog walk to train a running contact, and I know she claims it also results in a nice running A-frame as a bonus.  That remains to be seen, but certainly there is less impact involved in doing reps on a dog walk than on an A-frame.



  1. Have you visited Silvia's website and the all the "comments" on her running contacts- aka free Q&A? Watching all the submitted videos and her answers pretty much gives you her method :) Of course the video is great!

    At stage one Silvia really doesn't care at all if the dog hits the yellow as long as they're running full out. From what I can see above, you may need to start her further from the board and make sure the ball is pretty far out. Also, many dogs start on carpet runner since they're not used to running full speed on a plank. Good luck with you're journey, it's fun and very obsessive forming :)

    1. Toward the end of the video, I started throwing a tennis ball with a Chuck-It. I was very surprised at how much faster Belle ran.

      I knew Silvia recommended using a carpet, but I figured I'd try using the plank since I don't have a suitable piece of carpet. Also, I was able to lessen the thickness of the plank by sinking it into the snow.

      Thank goodness, Belle already knows that the ball isn't the ultimate reward. I'd be stuck at training Dusty to come back to me with (or without) the ball for a real long time if I wanted to use Silvia's method with him.

  2. I've taken Silvia's online puppy class & agility foundations class. She covers a little bit of the running contacts in those (and I've watched Laura above's videos!).

    I have friends who have taken the online course for running contacts. I will warn, it is very time consuming and you really have to train your eye as well to see the hits. But I have seen the most success with her method. Of course, since you have a dogwalk already it shouldn't be as bad to get all the reps in.

    I am contemplating on doing it with my young cardigan - just haven't decided yet if his natural stride will work already. That's the good thing about short dogs! :)