How I trained a running dogwalk without having access to a “real” dogwalk

The following  train of thought popped up in an email conversation about running contacts with a friend who is in the process of training her amazingly fast and talented mini-poodle to do running contacts.   I’ve always heard that you need access to a real DW in order to train the final stages of  running contacts.  I didn’t intentionally set out to disprove that premise but since I don’t have access to a rubberized DW, I ended up training Lil’s entire running DW performance on a 12′ plank angled off my back porch, which is only 34″ high.   I eventually added a second 12′  plank on the porch that connected to the angled plank so I sort-of had 2/3 of a DW.  I think adding the second plank was important because Lil was able to practice a specific striding pattern over the apex to the down ramp. So far, it seems to be working out very well in practice and at trials! 🙂

Running contacts are so much fun to train, I figured I’d give it a shot with Jake.  With Lil, I used Dawn Weaver’s method but with Jake I modified it a bit so that it is more of a “moving contact” than a true “running contact.”  I really like the way this feels with Jake and I think it might be better for NADAC courses than true running contacts because it gives the handler a moment to connect and direct the dog to the next obstacle vs. having to rely on verbal cues such as GO ON, RIGHT, and LEFT if the handler is very far behind the dog. I believe this will come in handy as I add more and more distance skills to Jake’s tool box!   Since I had already trained Lil’s running contacts prior to switching over to NADAC (and she is doing so well with them), I’m leaving them as is.  I think it will be fine with Lil since she responds so well to verbals (most of the time).  🙂

Below is a 20 second video of the angled dogwalk ramp.

I leave the plank angling off the porch over one of two sets of stairs most of time.   I can close the gate at the top to block access if there is snow or ice on the plank.   Although since the rubberized surface is black, snow melts very quickly plus NADAC rubber is amazingly non-slippery, even when wet.

So now, instead of the dogs running up and down the stairs to and from the backyard, they now mostly run up and down the plank.   At first, if they saw a chipmunk or something, they would leap off before reaching the bottom of the plank.  But that was WAY BETTER than the way they used to  leap off the porch if they saw a chipmunk, bypassing the steps entirely, which always made me cringe re: the impact onto the blue stone slab below.

Surprisingly, training running contacts on a plank placed over the stairs helped both dogs generalize the behavior to the stairs as well and now they tend to run all the way to the bottom of the stairs too.  At this point, when they run all the way down in route to the backyard, I praise them and when they occasionally leap I say OOPs.   That is the extent of the feedback they get outside of “official” training sessions.  But I think it has had a significant impact over time and its rare that either dog leaps off the plank OR the stairs.

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Canine Color Vision

This topic came up on an agility forum, so I dug up my notes on Canine Color Vision, since as a visual artist, this topic interests me greatly!  For those of you interested in this topic, there is a lot to read here. For those of you not that interested, in general Canine color vision is similar to human Red/Green color blindness which translates into dogs seeing blue and yellow very well.  Red and green look rather brown-ish.  I make mental notes about the color of tunnels when walking courses as I believe yellow and blue tunnels are more likely to “suck in” a dog  🙂 than a red or green tunnel, especially if the tunnel is part of a contact/ tunnel discrimination.

http://www.colblindor.com/coblis-color-blindness-simulator/ upload images to this page to see what it would look like to color blind people or dogs

http://www.colour-blindness.com/colour-blindness-tests/ishihara-colour-test-plates/ Link to Ishihara Colour test (ut colored lenses on Yellow Purple and compare R and G

Color vision in the dog.
Dogs can see colors
Dogs not only see in shades of gray but also can see distinct colors contrary to what most people belief. About one hundred years ago some scientific tests were made to find out more about the color vision of dogs. But these tests weren’t that scientific as they thought and the researchers concluded only that color vision doesn’t play a part in the daily life of a dog.
Only about 90 years later distinct researches have shown that dogs can perceive colors. Neitz, Geist and Jacobs researched in 1989 the color vision of domestic dogs and found the following facts:
1.    Dogs have two different color receptors in their eyes and therefore are dichromats.
2.    One color receptor peaks at the blue-violet range, the other at the yellow-green range.
3.    Conclusion: Dogs are green-blind which is one form of red-green color blindness also called deuteranopia.
This results were support by later researches of Jacobs with colleagues in 1993 and Miller and Murphy in 1995.
Abstract
The color vision of three domestic dogs was examined in a series of behavioral discrimination experiments. Measurements of increment-threshold spectral sensitivity functions and direct tests of color matching indicate that the dog retina contains two classes of cone photopigment. These two pigments are computed to have spectral peaks of about 429 nm and 555 nm. The results of the color vision tests are all consistent with the conclusion that dogs have dichromatic color vision.

http://evolutionaryanthropology.duke.edu/dogs Duke U. Canine Cognition Center, Brian Hare, PhD
Dr. Brian Hare, an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University’s Institute for Brain Sciences.  Hare clinically observes dogs to understand how evolution changes cognition. He is attempting to document canine psychology — ‘dog thinking’ — that currently does not exist in the field of brain science.

http://psychlops.psy.uconn.edu/eric/class/dogvision.html
Includes a statement about: Visual acuity
Visual acuity is the ability to see the details of an object separately and clearly. Visual acuity depends on three factors: a) optical properties of the eye, b)retinal detection and processing of the image, and c) proper interpretation of the images by higher centers in the brain. Postretinal processing has not been extensively studied in dogs, and was beyond the scope of the article being reviewed.
Retinal factors in visual acuity:
It is felt that the retina is the principle limiting factor of visual acuity in dogs. To improve vision in dim light, a greater number of photoreceptors converge on a single ganglion cell (a nerve cell that gathers input from receptor cells and then transmits the information to higher nervous centers in the brain). The more photoreceptors converging on a single ganglion cell, the less detail is present in the image produced, just as high speed photographic film, designed for low light situations, produces a grainier image than lower speed (brighter light) photographic film. The more ganglion cells present, the more nerve fibers present in the optic nerve that relays visual information to the brain. The canine optic nerve contains approximately 167,000 nerve fibers, compared with the human optic nerve which contains 1.2 million nerve fibers.
Estimates of visual acuity:
The most commonly used indicator of visual acuity is the Snellen fraction, which relates the ability to distinguish objects or letters at a fixed distance with the standard response. Snellen fractions of 20/20, 20/40, 20/60 or 20/100 indicates that the test subject needs to be 20 feet away from an image to clearly visualize the details that a normal subject could discern at 20, 40, 60, and 100 feet away, respectively. A variety of studies have been done, using a number of different methodologies, to estimate the visual acuity of dogs. We can assume from these studies that the normal dog has a visual acuity of approximately 20/75. This means that a dog must be 20 feet away from an object to clearly visualize details of that object that a human with normal vision could clearly visualize from a distance of 75 feet. Again, this less acute vision in dogs is a trade-off for improved vision in dim light, and their life style does not require visual distinction of fine details as does our life style.
Color vision

A number of studies have been done to investigate the color vision of dogs, and the results have been conflicting. However, more recent, better controlled studies indicate that dogs do possess and use color vision, but not to the same degree that humans do. The photoreceptor used for color vision is the cone, and there are cones present in the canine retina. However, they are present in low numbers, comprising less than 10% of the total photoreceptor population in the central area of the retina, as opposed to the human retina which consists of nearly 100% cones in the fovea. Two distinct type of cones appear to be present in the canine retina. One type is maximally sensitive to light in the wavelength that appears violet to people, and the other type is maximally sensitive to light in the wavelength that appears yellow-green to people. Thus, it appears that the visual spectrum of color in dogs is divided into two hues; one in the violet and blue-violet range, probably appearing as blue, and the other in the greenish-yellow, yellow, and red range, which is probably seen as yellow. Light that appears blue-green to people probably appears as white or shades of gray to dogs. Dogs are unable to differentiate colors that appear as green, yellow-green, orange or red to people, and are unable to differentiate greenish-blue from gray. This is similar to people who are red-green color blind. However, one study indicates that dogs are better able to differentiate between subtle shades of gray than people, which would be advantageous in increasing visual discrimination in low light conditions, where insufficient light is available to stimulate cones.
Summary

The authors conclude by stating that although the canine visual system may be considered inferior to the human visual system in such aspects as degree of binocular overlap, color perception, accommodative range, and visual acuity, the canine visual system is superior to the human visual system in other aspects, such as functional ability in low light conditions, retinal response rate to another image (flicker fusion), field of view, ability to differentiate shades of gray, and possibly the ability to detect motion. The canine visual system is optimized to exploit a different environmental niche than our own, and hopefully by better understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the canine visual system we will be better able to understand our hunting companion’s capabilities. Let me conclude by encouraging those of you interested in this issue to read the complete article, which includes 68 references to other works. I wish to personally thank the authors for greatly improving my own understanding of the canine visual system.
http://agilitynet.co.uk/health/caninevision_markplonsky.html
By Sarah Probst
Information Specialist
University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine

Owners who want to better understand their canine companions must recognise that dogs see the world from a different visual perspective. The differences begin with the structure of the eye. ‘We have a good idea what canines see because we know the make-up of the retina of a dog’s eye,’ says Dr. Ralph Hamor, a veterinarian and specialist in ophthalmology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital.
The retina, which covers the back of the inside of the eyeball, contains cones and rods-two types of light-sensitive cells. Cones provide color perception and detailed sight, while rods detect motion and vision in dim light. Dogs, which have rod-dominated retinas, see better in the dark than humans do and have motion-oriented vision. However, because they have only about one-tenth the concentration of cones that humans have, dogs do not see colors as humans do.
‘I generally explain that dogs see like a color-blind human,’ says Dr. Hamor. ‘Many people think that a person who is red/green color blind cannot see any color, but there are variations of being color blind. Most people have vision that is trichromatic (three color variations). People who are red/green color blind are dichromatic (two color variations).
Dogs can pick out two colors-blue-violet and yellow-and they can differentiate among shades of gray.’ Dogs are unable to distinguish among green, yellow, orange, and red. They also have difficulty differentiating greens and grays.
Dogs use other cues (such as smell, texture, brightness, and position) rather than rely on color. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, may not distinguish whether a stoplight is green or red; they look at the brightness and position of the light. This and the flow and noise of traffic will tell the dog that it is the right time to cross the street.
The set of dog’s eyes determines the amount of field of view and depth perception. Prey species tend to have eyes set on the sides of their head because the increased field of view allows them to see approaching predators. Predator species, like humans and dogs, have eyes set closer together. ‘Human eyes are set straight forward while dog eyes, depending on the breed, are usually set at a 20 degree angle. This angle increases the field of view and therefore the peripheral vision of the dog.’
However, this increased peripheral vision compromises the amount of binocular vision. Where the field of view of each eye overlaps, we have binocular vision, which gives us depth perception. The wider-set eyes of dogs have less overlap and less binocular vision.
Dogs’ depth perception is best when they look straight ahead, but is blocked by their noses at certain angles. ‘Predators need binocular vision as a survival tool,’ Dr. Hamor says. Binocular vision aids in jumping, leaping, catching, and many other activities fundamental to predators.
In addition to having less binocular vision than humans, dogs also have less visual acuity. Humans with perfect eyesight are said to have 20/20 vision-we can distinguish letters or objects at a distance of 20 feet. Dogs typically have 20/75 vision-they must be 20 feet from an object to see it as well as a human standing 75 feet away. Certain breeds have better acuity. Labradors, commonly used as seeing-eye dogs, have been bred for better eyesight and may have closer to 20/20 vision.
Don’t expect your dog to recognize you across the field by sight. He’ll recognize you when you do some sort of motion particular to yourself or by smell or hearing. Because of the number of rods in the retina, dogs see moving objects much better than they do stationary objects. Motion sensitivity has been noted as the critical aspect of canine vision. ‘So much of dog behaviour deals with posture and appropriateness. Small changes in your body posture mean a lot to your dog,’ Dr. Hamor adds. Dog owners need to modify training based on this fact. If you want your dog to perform an action based on a silent cue from you, Dr. Hamor suggests using a wide sweeping motion to cue your dog.
When dogs go blind, owners often wonder if the dogs’ quality of life has diminished to the point where they are no longer happy. ‘We know that humans deal well with being blind, and humans are much more dependent on their eyes than are dogs,’ Dr. Hamor says. ‘Blind dogs lead happy lives if they are comfortable.’ The owner may need to make some adjustments in the pet’s environment, such as having a fenced yard, taking leashed walks, and not leaving unusual objects in normal pathways. ‘When blind dogs are in their normal environment, most people don’t know they are blind.’ When clients visit Dr. Hamor asking about quality of life for their newly blind dog, Dr. Hamor suggests that they take a month to see if they and their dog are happy. In the majority of cases, the owners never come back.

http://www.uwsp.edu/PSYCH/dog/LA/DrP4.htm
Canine Vision
by Mark Plonsky, Ph.D.
Summary
Dogs are red-green color blind. They see a brighter and less detailed world when compared to humans. Peripheral vision is better than humans (dogs see more of the world), but distance is not judged quite as well. Dogs excel at night vision and the detection of moving objects. Figure 1 is a rough guesstimate of what a dog and human might see when viewing a color band (the electromagnetic spectrum).

These differences in visual ability make sense in light of evolutionary theory. Good depth perception and visual acuity are necessary for a primate (from which humans evolved) jumping from tree limb to tree limb. Good color vision enabled this primate to choose the ripest and most nutritious fruit. The canine, on the other hand, is well adapted as a nocturnal hunter of camouflaged prey.
Particulars
1.    Color
Dogs see something like a human deuteranope, that is, they are red-green color blind (occurs in 4% of male humans). Simply put, this is due to having only 2 cone types rather than 3 (light sensitive cells include cones and rods).
2.    Detail or Acuity
Since dogs have no fovea (or area with 100% cones), their estimated eye for detail is (roughly) 6 times poorer than in an average human.
3.    Night Vision
Dogs have much better night vision for 2 reasons:
o    The have more rods (which enable night vision).
o    They have a structure called the Tapetum Lucidum
This is a reflective surface behind the retina (area including the light sensitive cells) that reflects light back through it (gives the eerie shine at night).
4.    Sensitivity to Movement
Dogs are better able to detect movement.
5.    Depth & Field
Figure 2 show the field of view of a human and a dog. Due to the placement of the eyes, humans have an overlap of the field of each eye of 140; in dogs, it is about 100.

This results in the dog having limited ability to accommodate (focus on items at different distances), but a wider overall field allowing them to see more of the world.

Thoughts about jump heights plus new videos from last weekends trial

For me agility is the most fun when my dogs are running courses super fast and like most dogs, my dogs can run faster with lower jumps.   I am not suggesting speed is what makes agility the most fun for other teams.  I also must admit that I enjoy getting Qs but I’d take a fast and fluid NQ over a jerky Q any day!

I recently learned that AKC is now allowing the transfer of points to Preferred so teams don’t have to start all over again in Novice if they want to lower their dog’s jump heights.  YEY for that!   I hope this results in more people moving their dogs to Preferred if they feel their dog’s current jump height is too high based on either structure or age.

I have given jump heights a great deal of thought over this past year and over the past 6 months, I have only been competing in NADAC, where my Australian Terriers can jump 4″.   I may never raise their jump heights back to 8″, even for Lil who looks quite good jumping 8″.  My thinking is that when Lil jumps 8″ she often does a little butt flipping action over jumps, which a lot of BCs, who barely skim over bars, also do.  Granted it looks a lot more elegant when a long-legged BC butt flips, compared to my long-backed Australian Terrier, but regardless I suspect any repetitive motion like butt flipping could cause discomfort or undue wear and tear if done repeatedly for many years.  This thought is based on what I learned from an orthopedic specialist, whom we took Jake to see in July for an on-again, off-again NQR issue.  The vet didn’t find anything wrong with Jake but said that he had a little arthritis in his lower back which was VERY NORMAL for an agility dog to have at the age of 7….and he sees a lot of performance dogs.


Here are a few of Lil’s runs at a NADAC trial, December 15-16, 2012

There are two reasons I may not raise Lil’s jump height back to 8″.  The first is because she can run agility courses faster jumping 4″ and appears to be having more fun as a result.  The second reason is that she rarely butt flips over 4″ bars and I’m guessing that will be better for her long-term well-being.   I am not suggesting that everyone should lower their dog’s jump heights.. but just hoping to bring awareness to the choice we all have to jump our dogs lower in the USA.  Plus as far as I know, dogs don’t care about titles or jump heights. 🙂

The reason I will not likely raise Jake’s jump height back to 8″ is because of his rather unorthodox style of jumping, which I suspect is caused by his tendency to run and jump with his head held high.   I think it will take many months for him to fully adjust to jumping lower bars but at home he is now able to jump 4″ bars with ease so I know it is possible for him. I anticipate that over time, he will jump with more and more ease and  consistency at trials too.


Here are a few of Jake’s runs at a NADAC trial, December 15-16, 2012.  Unfortunately, what may have been Jake’s best run of all times, Touch N Go on Saturday, was not video-taped.  😦  It was super fast and super fun with awesome NEW running contacts!

I suspect there are other obstacles like weave poles and contacts that could contribute to the development of lower back arthritis, as well as day-to-day activities, but it also seems logical to me that the arching of the lower back to flip rear legs up high enough to clear bars over hundreds of jumps every year could result in arthritis or perhaps soreness at times, since there are so many jumps on most agility courses.  ps– One of the many things I am loving about NADAC is that many classes don’t have jumps and even Standard courses have a combination of jumps and hoops, so by the end of a full day of trialing (even running 6 classes) my dogs have jumped far less than they would have in 2 classes in other agility venues.

Regardless of the validity of my previous statements, why would I not want to lower my dogs’ jump heights if I have the option to do so?  All of the Australian Terriers I know are great agility dogs but agility specs are not designed with this particular breed in mind… and why would they be?   That said, I know several great running ATs who jump 8″ with  ease.  All of these dogs have good ground speed and good handlers and they look totally fine jumping their current height.  I am certainly not trying to suggest all ATs jump 4″.  It’s just a choice I’m making for my particular dogs and who knows, I just might end up raising their jump heights back to 8″ over time.

I do think there is a reason so many BCs and Shelties compete and win major competitions with full-height jumps though.  I will go so far to say that I think obstacle specifications suit these two breeds particularly well.  YEY for most BCs and Shelties out there!  GO GO GO!  As far as dogs whose structures are not perfectly suited for current obstacle specifications or jump heights, why not jump your dogs lower for a while and see how they look (and feel) if you have the option to do so?

And how about this radical thought? Imagine what agility trials in the USA would look like if a huge number of people decided to lower the jump heights for their dogs.  I’m guessing YPS would grow exponentially and make agility far more exciting to run AND to watch.  And perhaps American agility enthusiasts would start to feel better about what the USA has to offer in terms of competitive agility vs. always comparing our courses to European style courses and feeling that we are falling short!

Another super fun NADAC trial!

Last weekend, we went to a local NADAC trial and totally lucked out in terms of weather.  No rain at all… and this was just one day before Tropical Storm Sandy was due to hit our area.

Highlights for Lil include BRILLIANT running contacts all weekend long.  🙂   She had incredibly low hits on the A-Frame and her new running dog walk looked better than ever!  She also ran her first ever Elite Weavers course (3 sets of 12 poles) at 4.14 YPS and even did one set of poles 20-25-ish feet away from me (no video :().   Lil is now running ELITE in all classes except for Touch N Go, where she needs just one more Open Q.   This is pretty remarkable considering she only did a couple of days of NADAC when she was 18 – 20 months, and just started doing NADAC again in June 2012.

Jake also had a great weekend.  It was very windy on Sunday, which makes him higher than a kite, but he kept his head and ran well and fast both days.  Highlights include his fastest Jumpers run to date at 5.14 YPS.  🙂  He also had a lot of really nice moving contacts, which I am very pleased with since we have just begun playing around with them vs. 2o2o.  The thing I’m most proud of is that I was able to call Jake back around to take a few missed obstacles and he stayed totally engaged and happy.   I used to have to keep on going or I’d lose him.  Jake’s resiliency has really skyrocketed this past year. 🙂   We also had a funny moment after Jake’s 4.27 YPS Weavers run when a friend complimented me on how great Lil always runs.  I had to point out to her that it was Jake, not Lil!  YEY Jake!

I could not be prouder of Jake and Lil!  🙂

Jake and Lil’s NADAC trial last weekend at Sugarbush Farm

Jake is back! 🙂  after taking a few months off due to a soft tissue injury.  He ran incredibly well and his focus was unwavering the entire weekend.  I could not be more proud of him.   His jumping style started off looking a bit YAHOO 🙂  but by the time his Standard run rolled around on day 2 (the 3rd run on the video) he had settled into a nice rhythm  and was jumping efficiently (like he does at home).

A few of Jake’s runs:

Lil had another spectacular weekend.   She is in Elite in most classes now and her YPS are continuing to increase so its more fun than ever to run with her.   Her Elite Standard run on Saturday was 4.46 YPS (with 2 A-Frames) and on Sunday it was a whopping 4.78 YPS.  Too bad I didn’t walk the closing on Sunday and thus did not support the last hoop.  I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again!

A few of Lil’s runs:

Camp Gone to the Dogs

Jake and Lil’s Freestyle Demo

Bev Blanchard is an amazing Freestyler, instructor and choreographer.  We took 3 private lessons with her at camp, through which she helped us develop a freestyle routine from scratch.  On Thursday, after our final lesson, we discussed everything we had worked on, and I remember thinking that I wished I had a few weeks vs. one day to practice before performing the routine for the first time. 🙂

I decided it is kind of crazy to try to develop an entire freestyle routine in 4 days of camp to then perform in on the 5th day.  So I plan to continue to refine this routine over the winter vs. starting a new routine from scratch every year at camp.  I hope to add some cool tricks that did not make it into this routine in place of tricks that didn’t look as dynamic as I’d like and develop each dog’s solo routine to really highlight what makes each of them so special.

I’m so glad Bruce captured most of the routine on video because  I learned something very important.   I had not realized that my body language was the same for some new tricks AND old tricks so that my dogs needed to rely solely on verbals to know which trick to do at times.   Lil seemed fine with the verbals but I think my vagueness in terms of motion and body position contributed to  Jake’s loss of focus at times….on top of  performing in such a  “well seasoned” ring filled with treats from a week of camp! 🙂   I also think Jake might do better with fewer treats during the routine.   He seemed to lose focus briefly after each treat!    And the other reason it is good to have video, is that things don’t look nearly as bad as they sometimes feel…like Jake’s sniffing!   I actually think he looked kind of cute!

Clips from the agility ring.  Lil’s new running dog walk looked really good all week-long.  It’s the first time she worked on turns after the dog walk (since we have only been doing NADAC lately).  She nailed every single one.   Oh and Siliva Trkman is right as she always is when she said “If you train a running dog walk, you get the A-Frame for free.”   Since I switched Lil from 2o2o to a running dog walk, her A-Frames are looking great!…. nice low hits and great speed even with a tight turn after!

After 2 months off from agility (due to a soft tissue injury), Jake looked great at camp!  He had nice soft landings with every single 2o2o on the A-Frame, and really nice speed!  He looked like he was having a blast too.  I took it easy with him and only ran him a little but I think he is feeling good!  YEY!

Some of Lil’s runs at NAE’s NADAC Trial last weekend in Dummerston, VT

The weather was less than ideal but we still had a great time.  Lots of rain on Friday and Saturday and then hot and sunny on Sunday but Lil ran beautifully all weekend long.  13 of 17 Qs and 4 new titles, impressive YPS and a nice consistent performance with her NEW running dog walk.  After just a few weeks of training on a plank, she did not miss a contact all weekend long and most of the hits were nice and low in the contact zone.

I also experimented with more rear crosses and Li really seemed to enjoy them.  I also see that I don’t need to rush and race her to the finish line as that causes her to feel rushed and her jumping becomes less efficient as a result.  As the weekend progressed, I felt I was handling more and more in a style that truly supported Lil’s ability to do her job well.

Lil’s running dog walk at NADAC trial last weekend

I couldn’t be more pleased with how good Lil’s running dog walk is looking!  Just one high hit (but still in the contact zone) and many very nice low hits.  She clearly understands the criteria. YEY!

I’ll be posting some of her runs in a day or two.  She ran fast and confidently all three days  and earned 4 new titles and 13 Qs!

Lil’s Running Dogwalk

What you cannot see on the video is that Lil is first running along a 12′ carpet runner on the back porch that connects to the 12′ plank that is slanting down from the 34″ high porch to the ground.

Lil had done one short session with this set-up the day before.  As typical of Lil, if I briefly expose her to something new and then let her sleep on it, she approaches additional sessions with increased confidence and understanding.  This video is of the three sessions we did yesterday.

I love watching Lil experiment with different striding patterns, trying to figure out the fastest/ best way to run down the plank while still being able to hit low with her final stride.  I think 4 strides is starting to look nice and comfortable, with some nice low hits and no leaping.  Of course Lil “tested” 3 strides once or twice but I don’t think that is going to work well, especially once she is running a full-height dog walk.

I’m going to let her continue to experiment and see if she figures out a way to take 3 strides down and get consistently low hits or if she ends up choosing to take 4 strides.  I am putting my money on 4 strides.  especially because we are not at full height yet.  But then again, 3 days ago, I thought 5 strides was the best choice for Lil and I was wrong about that!  I am having so much fun watching Lil learn this new skill.  I also love that the angle of a full-height dog walk is not nearly as steep as the A-Frame so gravity will not come into play nearly as much!

The following JUST HAPPENED and I had to post the video!

 

Another day of NADAC

I drove 2 hours south to Madison, NJ on Sunday for Scor Agility’s NADAC trial.  Even though it was hot and humid, Lil ran well.   I was especially proud because this was the first time she ran 6 classes in a single day.  Her final run had as much energy and focus as the first run of the day.  We spent most of the day hanging out in the shade, with Ryobi fans running,  eating a big bowl of cold watermelon.  The only time Lil panted was right after her runs and within a few minutes of being back in the shade, she was comfortably cool again.

Jake is taking a break from agility.  Something is not quite right with him, but it doesn’t appear to be a major injury so he is just taking a little break from jumping and contacts until he is back to 100%.  Jake loves freestyle, perhaps more than agility, so he is having as much fun as Lil!

The next upcoming “dog” event is a three-day camp with Lynn Smitley in Vermont, which includes a day focusing on  NADAC ECG, which is all about speed and distance and does not include traditional agility obstacles so it sounds perfect for Jake and I’m sure Lil will love it too.

I’ll also be continuing to work on Lil’s new running dogwalk!  It is fun to train and even more fun to DO at trials. Lil ran over the dogwalk 3 times at the NADAC trial and all 3 times, her striding was absolutely beautiful!