Saturday, June 4, 2011

Experiences and Some Thoughts on Contacts!

OUR AFRAME: I LOVE training challenges and trying to teach new things. I think that is one of the reasons why I wanted to train the 4 on the floor with Breeze for her contacts. I did not know anyone who had trained the 4 on the floor and I learned so much by teaching it, some of which has helped with the aframe we are doing now, some has helped with our 2020 we are teaching now, although we had a lot of detours with Breezes four on the floor contact.. I love Breezes contacts now. Learning by trial and error really does make the whole thing take longer. I will say that in the back of my mind up until now....I was worried that we would never get a decent running aframe, but all of a sudden I feel a new found confidence, and inside I no longer have doubts that we will get a good running aframe, now I can focus my worry on wondering if I will learn how to handle speedy Crickets running aframe ;-).

When it came time to teach Cricket some sort of contact behavior I could not resist the challenge of trying to teach a running contact on the aframe. I liked the idea of the challenge of learning to handle a course with a running aframe which I **HOPE** is doable, but it will be different from our stopped contacts of course. One instructor told me she would not recommend teaching a running aframe with a dog unless it had a "natural stride", she did not know how I would accomplish a running aframe with a border collie, either how to teach it or how to reward it or how to handle it, so of course I had to try it after that comment.

I got the Rachel Sanders Running Aframe DVD, I signed up for the Yahoo Running Contact list, and I trolled through youtubes to watch videos of other peoples training. I was suprised at all the things you had to think about, training the dog to handle turns because they will not be stopped to give you a chance to get there to handle that say if they need to turn back and go into a tunnel, it is really important where their focus is, I learned that if Cricket is paying too much attention to me she will leap off the side way too high because she is looking at me, I learned that if she sets one foot down too high she is likely to quickly to start to launch right over the contact. The other thing that is suprising is how fast it can all unravel if you do not really stick to all your criteria and evaluate what is going on.

The biggest thing I would recommend to someone thinking about running contacts is to video as much as you can, so you can really see what is happening. Recently I had a session that I thought we had a 100% success rate, I looked at the video and found that Cricket had CONSISTENTLY stuck her left front foot down on the aframe, it was happening because she had started not going far enough over the apex and so she was starting to lose her stride into the contact zone. Luckily I saw that quickly and Brittney (Cricket's breeder)helped me figure out what was going on so I could put a stride regulator (a pool noodle on pvc so I can attack it to the aframe).

We are back on track now and cooking (I think, LOL). It is all looking really good now and we have had several sessions where things are looking GREAT. For the most part I really like this method of Aframe training, although I would really like to try Sylvia Trkmans method of training a running contact,....maybe with my next dog????

I know it really seems like we are taking forever, Crickets brother did this method and has been competing for awhile, the just seemed to zip through it and has a gorgeous aframe, but guess Cricket and I do everything a little slower then some ;-) ... even if we are slow, TEAM CRICKET is going to get there and I am confident it will be beautiful so who cares if we are taking the scenic route to get there? I am doubting how much better it is for the dogs joints from a 2020, just because of the sheer number of repetitions I have had to do to teach it, ....way more then I thought,although Rachels method is supposed to limit the number of reps you need. Maybe the number of reps I have needed is related to the mistakes I made, maybe next time I would not have to do as many?

DOG WALK CONTACTS: We have been playing a lot of games with the dog walk contacts. I stuck a board on a stool in the hall and when we are rough housing I run down the hall, dodging the dogs and cats and Cricket jumps on the board and runs into position. I also moved my baby dog walk to the gate going out to the agility yard. Cricket LOVES going into the agility yard, it is one of her highest value treats, so a couple of times a day we run to the gate and play the touch game, she runs into position and then I release her into the yard to go do some training for a few minutes. I really want Cricket to understand the position and to think the position on the contact is a very fun thing ;-) .

contact board and aframe practice, and it is a red letter video, 150th posted video! Whooo hoooo!

I know watching other peoples aframe videos of the same thing over and over are not very exciting unless someone is doing the same training now...but if anyone wants to watch any of our other videos they are on my youtube channel


Sara said...

You are so methodical about training, and what amazing results you achieve.

Love how Skyler tries to get in on the action too!

LauraK said...

I'm with Sara, I love how much time and thought you put into your training, it's really cool. I'm sure the scenic route is the best one to take, because you're not rushing Cricket. I'm excited to see her kicking butt in the ring with gorgeous contacts sometime soon! And I never knew they had a running contact Yahoo! group- wow!

Marie said...

There is just so darn much pressure to rush things I think. I admire you for taking your time. I think you and Cricket are doing fantastic and all the time you are putting into her foundation is going to show in the long run. :-)

Diana said...

I do think the running a-frame is hard on the dog with all the reps. I think that teaching a running dogwalk is easier on the dogs body plus it usually just transfers to the a-frame. Cricket looks great! Her running a-frame is awesome. My only comment maybe not to fling the toy so high, it kinds brings her up off the a-frame. I know its hard when throwing the toy, running and watching the dog. LOL She looks awesome!! Youve really worked hard. Congrats

Sagira said...

It always looks like so much fun at your place! :)

I'm sorry you are having problems with comments on my page. Is it just my page? Others on blogs have been having troubles on a lot of blogs. Very weird. I hope Blogger fixes itself soon.

Oh...and I knew who you were aleady, just the name fit you! LOL :)

Morganne said...

Love to read about your training and the reasons behind your decisions.

One of the reasons I spent all Winter having Soleil run a plank and then the low dogwalk was that even if I decided later to put a stop on the DW, she had a history of running wood and the transition to running the a-frame would be easier. Now that it is full height, I only take her over it once or twice a week.

Nat said...

Great post! I can never read enough about contacts, like you I love the challenge of trying to get better and better contacts.

She's so intense, she's going to have a fantastic DW!! And of course I just LOVE her AF too, awesome awesome job! :)