Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Better Motivator

Yesterday, I tried using Belle's Jolly Ball instead of a tennis ball or monkey's paw for our running contact session.  The Jolly Ball is pretty close to the top of Belle's  "I want it" list, and I thought it might get her excited enough that she wouldn't care quite so much about being right.  I also limited our starting position to somewhere on the DW, with the exception of one last rep which we did after playing around with an exercise from April's issue of Clean Run.

Belle did an excellent job with that final rep, especially considering I forgot to take the milk crate from under the edge of the ramp.  (I use milk crates to keep the boards from being in constant contact with the damp ground when we're not using the teeter and the DW.)

Today, I decided to do two short sessions and continue using the Jolly Ball.  I began both sessions with Belle on the cross plank of the DW, and quickly progressed to sending her to the tunnel.  (I decided against having her start from the up ramp or a sit-stay before the DW so that she didn't have to fight gravity while trying to get up to full running speed.)  I was very pleased with the results.  Definitely got more than just 1R foot high in the yellow on several of the reps.


  1. Here's what I'm noticing -- On the reps where Belle starts from a stationary position on the DW, she is consistently putting in 3 strides on the down plank. This is putting her low and well into the yellow, resulting in many jackpots.

    When you have her run the entire DW, she is getting over the entire obstacle in six strides. She's giving you two up, two across and two down. This is great (!!), but in order to get the desired criteria she needs to be *extending* the entire length of that dog walk. I also noted that she often loads pretty low on the first board, which means she needs that much more oomph to make up the ground in the last five strides.

    I went through a similar issue with Kaiser. His routine was clearly to put in "x" strides over the DW. The down ramp was always two strides. If he was hauling butt, which he always does at home, he had a very good (nearly perfect) hit rate. The problem we experienced was that he would set back just every so slightly at trials which resulted in his striding being just that hair off. Instead of adding an extra stride, which he simply refuses to do, he would just leave early.

    May you have better luck than I did! We went back to a stop and thankfully he seems happier about that idea now than he did in his earlier years. ;o) Just do be cognisant about the striding differences you are seeing here in static start vs. running and that you may see slightly different results at trials due to stride length.

    Running contacts are not for the faint of heart. lol

    1. Thank you for your observations on Belle's striding. I'll have to pay more attention to that in the future. This morning I made a complete mess of things by working a sequence before the DW and sending her to a tunnel AFTER the DW and running with her :( Not good. I thought it would be a nice change of pace for both of us, but it resulted in changing too many variables at once. This afternoon, I lowered the DW to three feet and worked on getting Belle used to me actually running along the DW with her and I finally introduced my new verbal for the DW, "fly." (I also went back to using a hoop for the final obstacle.)

    2. I was going to note the same thing Karissa did :) I think 2 strides on the down ramp is pretty much what all the big dogs I've seen do who have true running contacts (even if they learn to adjust their strides earlier on the DW so that they can vary from 4-6 hits depending on the load speed), but she's just not reaching that much yet. Not that I have any ideas though! My toller is considerably slower in trials than in practice but, so far, he's been pretty consistent about adding a stride in on the up or middle plank so he still hits the yellow.

      You should think about posting this video to Silvia's site. She's do generous about responding to questions!

  2. I went back and watched 10 or 12 of the earlier videos in slow-motion. No that you and Karissa have pointed it out to me, the difference in her striding is very obvious. Belle runs a little faster at trials, so I guess I'm going to have to really work on getting her psyched up in practice. I tried running with her today in our two practice sessions, and I'm really feeling it now. I'll watch the section of Silvia's video about "Hit that Contact" and see how the dogs are striding there. If they're consistently doing it in two hits on the down ramp, then I'll contact Silvia for advice. (She has already been kind enough to give me advice when I noticed Belle checking her speed a couple of weeks ago. Don't want to wear out my welcome.) Thank you both for your input. I never would have seen it on my own.

  3. I contacted Silvia and she replied within an hour or two--she is really a terrific person! She said not to worry about the extra hit from a stationary start on the DW. However, I should work on getting Belle to extend her stride a little more so that she hits a little deeper in the yellow when she is beginning the DW from a running start.