Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Running Contacts - Session 19

Belle and I went to the QCDC last Saturday for a NADAC trial.  Unfortunately, for the first time since I started retraining the A-frame in November, 2011, contacts were a major problem.  Since I don't watch Belle as she comes through the yellow, I had to wait until I was able to view the video in slow motion on my computer monitor before I knew which contacts she missed.  She seemed to have no problem hitting the dog walk contact if I was not moving.  For example, on one course there was a left turn off the dog walk to a hoop, so there was no need for me to move.  That she missed the yellow when I was running didn't really bother me since we have not been able to work on that at home yet.

What had me concerned was the A-frame.  But she missed only one out of four, and if anything, I thought she was coming over the top even better than she had been before we started working on a running dog walk.  Hopefully, a limited amount of training with a stride regulator in place will show Belle I want her to land a little lower after cresting the top of the A-frame.

Today, I ventured out into the field and discovered enough snow had melted that we could do a running contact session.  It's been more than a week, but I decided to lug out the third board and give it a go.  By and large, I was extremely pleased with Belle's performance.  The only problem we encountered was that Belle was collecting before the yellow when I moved.  One rep was so bad that she managed to put six feet into the yellow!!!

I don't know if this is a potential problem or not.  It could be a stage most dogs go through, or it could be how even dogs with blazing running contacts actually manage to hit the yellow.  I'll have to sit down and watch some videos of dogs with running dog walks on YouTube and see if I can find an answer to my questionI'll also watch Silvia Trkman's DVD again and see if it's an issue she addresses.

P.S.  I contacted Silvia on her website.  She said Belle is checking her stride because running contacts are a re-train.  It isn't a behavior she sees in dogs who haven't previously been taught to stop on their contacts.  Solution:  Do not reward those reps.  Good thing I can really hear it when Belle alters her stride.  



  1. I think she looks great! When I was trying to teach a RDW to my corgi he often slowed down like Belle did on those few reps. Unfortunately, once he did that he wouldn't get better in that session. I ended up switching to always really rewarding every single rep and major jackpotting the ones I actually liked. I also had to end the session, happily, if he started it again, and/or lower the board. He just hated to be wrong and would think way too much and thinking is bad for Trkman running contacts!
    But I love that Belle goes back to running after those 3 reps.

  2. Belle has always wanted to do the right thing (unlike a couple of other Aussies who shall remain nameless). I basically did what you did, I RM the reps when the stride-checking was really obvious and JP the ones that were less so. Silvia advice is to NRM any attempt that isn't at speed (see my P.S. above), I will give that a try next session, but I suspect that Belle will just get slower or even worse, offer a 2o2o as she did in session 18.

    For sure that next dog will be taught running contacts first!

    1. Yes, my corgi was (an attempt at) a retrain too! I never had that problem with the Toller who was running from the start! Although I suspect if we would of had that issue with him he would have been perfectly fine with just not rewarding those attempts and only rewarding speed, whereas that only made the problem worse the corgi.