Thursday, November 6, 2014

Running Contacts, First Sessions.

And when I said that I wanted to teach Molly how to run her contacts, I

I removed her paw bandage yesterday and she has not been limping.  She wants to lick constantly, so the cone is in effect.  When she goes out in the yard she has to wear a Pawz rubber bootie.  The toenail is stable but badly damaged, somehow both of those things are possible about this toenail.  But I am super glad that she is able to be active!

We started training this morning.  I took videos of 75 percent of our training session and instantly felt like it was a miserable failure.  It went nothing like I expected.

I expected my dog to run along the plank.  We would do two separate sessions of this today, and two tomorrow.  And then we would start raising the plank to an angle off the ground.

"Every dog is an individual."

Molly did not run along the plank.  She bounded.  She bounced and sprung.  Why would I have expected anything different?  And now what was I going to do?

The spring was especially awesome at 1:00 and the worst part was that I Clicked It!  Argh!  My reward placement was a disaster during our entire session.  I was using Vince's loading ramps to run Molly on, end to end.  I thought that maybe this was too long so I went to one ramp only.  It did not make much of a difference.

The plank was too high off the ground.  And Molly is a dog with a natural tendency to spring and bounce.  I was reading on Silvia Trkman's website that dogs who are being retrained may tend towards jumping because they are confused.  And that dogs like this would benefit from running on plain grass to their reward, or over a carpet.

I got a dog bowl.  I got Molly's cheese balls.  I made a 12 foot long "carpet" out of my interlocking foam squares.  And I again expected my dog to run across the Foam Runway and all would be well.  Nope.  Bouncing.  This next video is a little boring, with more of the bounding action happening at the end.

We went to plain grass.  I put Molly in stays and had her run to the dog bowl with a cheese ball in it.  This was what Molly needed!  I still got some mild bounces (the second run on this video) but I was really able to click a lot more of the running that I want versus the bouncing that I do not.

I may return to some more work on Just Grass.  But I did do one more session with the foam runway and I was a lot happier with what I was getting from Molly.  I have my work cut out for me, and the hardest part is that I am so inexperienced and have the most fragile of understanding of what I am trying to do.  Poor Molly, my first agility dog, suffering confusion for the betterment of our team!  (But mostly, for cheese balls.)

Important things to do:  Must buy Silvia's "Running Contacts that Make You Smile" DVD!
I do not have a good plank (yet) and so there is no reason to rush.  I really need to solidify good running behavior on the foam runway.  When I really have Molly's form consistent I can start getting picky about where her feet are falling (not jumping over the end of the foam runway.)  After that I will acquire and get working on a plank.

A lot of excuses and....fear?  Are going through my head.  I don't have a plank.  I don't have the yard  space.  I certainly don't have a dog walk of any height to continue our work on.  I do not have the skill to train this type of behavior.  I am going to have to rent ringspace and equipment.  How am I going to handle agility class?


  1. It's going to be such a fun journey!!!
    For some unsolicited advice, I would try and start Molly back further from your mats and have the reward as far out as possible too. I'm pretty sure at this first step that running is the only criteria, don't worry at all yet about where she's placing her feet as long as she's running. She has this super cute bounce though when she starts :)

    I did Vito's without anything but a plank and a very tiny yard. Looking back at it, I made SO many mistakes! I do plan on getting a dogwalk in the spring for "next puppy," but I know it can be done without a real dogwalk. In class with puppy Vito I put hoops out so he could run but it prevented jumping. Or since Molly already has some dogwalk behavior I would just her do that as you will be using a new cue for her new behavior. currently Vito has both runnign and stopped dogwalk and there's zero confusion as he knows before he gets on what he's doing.

    1. Oh I appreciate this advice! I started setting her up maybe...10-15ish feet back from the mats and the bowl as far away as possible, and I also started using her treat ball rather than just a looks like throwing an actual toy is going to be most beneficial here as we progress.

      Right now I am in a bit of a drought for practice sessions with the yard being so frosty and wet in the morning, and too dark in the evening. I wish I had started it sooner, but I am trying to seize every opportunity to work on this possible. Still getting a lot of bouncing! She is naturally bouncy so I think I need to focus on just running on plain grass for a bit....

      I am kind of glad to hear that you had a small yard with Vito, he is gorgeous running contacts! Makes me feel like this could be really possible :)