Pixel is almost 10 months old now and I have been contemplating for months about what method I am going to use for her contacts. I was successful in training Boo a running Aframe contact and love it, so I knew I was going to do a running Aframe with Pixel, but I just couldn't decide on the Dogwalk. My last 7 dogs have all been taught a 2 on and 2 off, but they have aways ended up with slightly creepy down planks :-( So I really want to do a running dog walk contact with Pixel, but worry that I am neither young nor fast and recent injuries mean I am very guarded when I run. I was worried that she would just be too fast for me over the dog walk.
However I have been speaking with loads of people and they feel that as I will be training Pixel to be more independent and wanting her to do more distance work a running dog walk rather than be a hindrance may actually work in my favour. With a 2 on and 2 off the dogs are often looking back at their handler and waiting for them to catch up before going onto the next obstacle which means I would actually have to be more with her, like I am with Boo.
So bearing all this in mind I decided to would give a running dogwalk a go. So I started to search in earnest for the method that would suit me and Pixel best. I knew I didn't want the manic very fast running contacts that I have seen by some handlers. They look totally amazing, but I wanted a more controlled contact. Knowing how manic Pixel is I have no doubt she will build speed anyway.
I decided I wanted to use my Manners Minder ( food reward dispenser ) as opposed to a toy in the first instance. So once again I searched Youtube for inspiration, and then suddenly I had a video link sent to me by someone , who knew what I wanted to do , and this video was JUST what I wanted and used the method I wanted to use.
The lady in question used the method I want to use with her young collie and her name is Mona Grefenstein , She has a controlled method of training at the beginning but has ended up with the most reliable and superb contacts.
So having watched her video numerous times I started 4 days ago with Pixel . I am using a rubber granuled plank indoors in my lounge. At first Pixel was frightened of the manners minder so I had to get her used to this which didn't take long, and then I had to get her used to the dog walk plank. This was very trial and error, but after about 6 false starts moving her further and further back on the plank she mastered it.
I am looking for a split paw pattern with no jumping off the plank at the end..the dog has to stride through the plank. I have taken one excellent piece of info from Laura Chudleigh and that is 2 mistakes and then simplify so they get it right the next time.
By Day 3 I had raised the plank by 2" and she picked up a little bit of speed and got a 95% success rate with her striding. :-)
I am doing a maximum of 5 minutes each session. Today I put another 2 small books under, so raised the plank again by about half an inch I guess. Today she was even more enthusiastic and sadly I got a few jump offs. So i just took her back a step and encouraged her to slow down a little and she got it 100%. I then encouraged a little speed again and she did 3 great repetitions and I finished on a good note.
Tomorrow I will film again. I intend to video every other day, which not only is nice for me to look back on, but also gives me a good insight into her strides and progress :-)
Below are 2 videos. One from the first day and the next from Day 3 :-)