Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Introducing the Dogwalk

I'll admit...we've put this off with my agility students. The dogwalk we have is not adjustable. We're not yet in a situation where it's an option to purchase or make an adjustable dogwalk.

The instructors have come up with a few ways to transition dogs to the full height dogwalk. But I had not tried anything...until this week!

Our beginners have an introduction to contact obstacles in two ways.
1) We train a solid contact behavior using platforms/planks. Sends and then proofing. Lots of variations. A lot of this. When we're really good at it, we'll do a special hop-on the end of the real obstacles (with an does not approach "facing up" the obstacle) and the dog sticks and is reinforced and then proofed for it.
2) We do some running over low aframes, a plank to a table height, platforms that are about 8" from the ground. Once the dogs are okay and comfortable and happy with this, we do NOT do any more of this stage.

And this keeps them busy for a good 6-8 weeks. Then we raise the aframe. And start with the teeter.

So... I have my intermediate dogs that needed the dogwalk. They were able to do full height aframes. Good contacts there. Teeter training in place.

My plan was to have the dogs get quite a few treats while up and over. I would hold a leash close to the collar to prevent any disasters and prevent the handlers from doing anything weird.

And how did it go? One owner admitted her dog had accidently gone over when she was there for a walking session. And he was great and did his contacts. Dog 2, perfect. But this dog is interesting as he learns so quickly it seems as if he already knows everything.

How will it go with future students? I don't know. But the good foundation, the high confidence level, and careful planning let this go very well.

So, 3/3 dogs, these two, and Griffin, had introductions to full height dogwalks that went great.

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