Thursday, July 7, 2011

Run For The Hills!!

Somebody in some cold country in Europe gets major genius points!!

I was poking around on Silvia Trkman’s site last night and found a little discussion on the Running Contacts Online Course.  A few people weren’t sure the course was ‘for them’ as they had limited space, poor landscape for agility or both. So ST posted a video of a gal who had taken her class who had both issues but managed to train lovely RCs with her BC anyways.  How did she do it?

She used the hilly landscape as elevation for her plank!!!  


Basically, the gal had a dirt driveway, with a hill on one side (shrubs on the other).  So she did the flat plank work in the grass along the shrubs, then when she needed to raise it, she leaned it on the hill and sent the dog across the driveway.   The best part was when the plank was raised to the top of the hill- no space (woods) for a good run at it- so she practiced cik/cap turns around a bush near the top of the plank to get speed up!

What a resourceful lady.  She even put the board up to the entry of her house at one point for a higher height and called the dog out from her kitchen.  Then there was some finagling of a picnic table, but eventually she set up the whole shebang next to the shrubs and ta-daaa! Magic Running Dogwalk.

This was an answer to a few issues I was having.  First, The Dog hated the table/plank set up. I don’t know why, exactly (it did bounce a lot), but she had not a good time at 12” on the table.  Second, the amount of time and effort it took to set up the table/plank really went against my lazy nature. Third, I was worried that The Pup would figure out that there was a table under there and start getting confused on what to do with a table. This point wasn’t entirely unfounded either. She had started hesitating before the drop since I went to that set-up. 

So I tried the Hillside Approach last night.  I have two lovely hills in my yard, perfect for adding elevation to a dogwalk plank (the bonus being that one of the hills is even in the shade).  The Boyfriend used this thing call “Trigonometry” to magically find out the equivalent height and informed me that I had it set at 16”.  He gets genius points too, even if he probably used voodoo or something to figure that out.

In practice? It actually worked pretty well.  The hill prevents a lot of the bounce, so The Dog was a bit more comfortable.  She is improving in her stride consistency overall.  I’m encouraged by her bounce back after a run where she doesn’t get rewarded.  You can see she always brings it down a notch and thinks very hard, and then by the next turn is back to her previous pace, but with improved stride.  I still reward everything that isn’t an obvious leap with at least an offering from Marvin. Awesome runs get the ball after.  Occasionally I do let her target to the ball if it’s going really well, but too much of that and she stops using her brain (i.e. LEAPS!).  I’m trying to very slowly incorporate my movement- VERY slowly.  We will stay here until I see some more consistent striding with all the performance variables. Happy with this first attempt though with the new set-up and height. 

On a side note, this actually DOES seem to be transferring to a full dogwalk.  After her naughty one last weekend on Saturday we ran a few plank in the yard and Sunday was MUCH better.  And last night, we practiced planks at home then went to teach and play sequences after.  I put her over the full DW at the end and WOW!  She actually, truly, ran the thing. Of course, that was only in one direction for some reason and she had a jump to target, but still!! She didn’t hitch her stride or leap, but ran through. Consistently (uh, in one direction)! Cool! Now, if we could get the OTHER direction, we might have something really useful.
The Pup had some balance issues; a downhill run had a bit of a ‘snowballing’ effect.  (BASEBALL HEAD STRIKES AGAIN!!!) I think she had two misses- one was extremely awkward (she fell on her head off tape), the other I think I pushed a bit too much but also looks awkward.  I’ve got to remember that she doesn’t need to be pushed at this point, just needs to think about it and learn and her speed will continue to come up along with it. Anyways, the ones where I let her do her thing were beautiful as usual. 

I tossed some teeter video on there too for variety.  It’s about 14” right now.  NOT shown are her first two attempts which were spectacular fly-offs. Oops. She was a tad excited.  For what it’s worth, there were heroic attempts to stop made on her part, but it’s a VERY slick board so WHOOSH! Off she went.  (She will be so set on teeters for life after learning on this one- it’s slippery, LOUD, and shaky.)  I rewarded her so she wouldn’t get freaked, but I don’t know how much danger there was in that. She mostly looked super annoyed at the teeter and tried to clamber back on right away. 
At this point, I’m a bit at full capacity for what we can possibly train in a day.  Or a week for that matter.  I HAVE to do Smart Puppy work with The Pup every day.  Obedience under the guise of tricks is the most necessary thing for her now so we can stand living with her.  Without Smart Puppy time she gets all feral and socks disappear at an alarming rate.  I HAVE to do some sort of balance/core trick work with The Dog daily. Then they need walks and The Dog needs equipment time and drills most days.  The Pup has a million obstacles to learn (some of which take FOREVER to teach) and proof on at some point in time, not to mention basic handling work on the flat.  But yet I have only a tiny window of the day.

I’ve instructed The Boyfriend to find a job where he can make enough that I don’t have to work and can be a Lady of Leisure.  I’ll take his silence as approval??

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