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Dog Walk Help - looking for input and ideas


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Turning to the Boards in search of some kind of miracle in training the dog walk (just kidding;  it's really not that dramatic).  Piper is 21 months old.  She is usually a cautious dog and takes longer to acclimate to new situations and training.  Background:  when starting,  we did foot awareness with a box, then walking on ladder on the ground.  Then walking on a board on the ground.  Even with this, she never seemed to grasp keeping all four feet on the board and she would sloppily go off the board.  Once it was time to raise the board, we put it on the table.  She really did not like doing it, but eventually learned to walk it by placing treats the whole way up the ramp.  I'm going to say that she seems to lack confidence.  Once she was able to walk it to the table, we started at class letting her jump up on the ramp a third of the way up and walk down it.  That was progressing fine.

I have a mini (2 foot high) dog walk at home.  Only difference is that due to space limitations, the ramps are shorter and therefore a little more steep than a regular dog walk, and the ramp across it much shorter.  I had her going up and down the ramps pretty well, but she would not walk across the middle part.  She was definitely afraid of it. Getting my husband to help, we did get her to cross it twice with no issues. Then that was it.  She totally refused to do it the next day.  I have tried using treats the whole way up and across.  She has now regressed to not wanting to even walk up the ramps at home.

At class, she will still jump up on the ramp and walk down.  I went back to placing the board on the table and she has now regressed to refusing that.  I have totally backed off teaching any more of this for now, not knowing if this is a fear period or what.  I'm wracking my brain trying to come up with something to make her feel more secure and confident on this.  Needless to say, we have not even approached the teeter.  The A-Frame poses no problem for her.  Not coming up with much from Google.  Hoping for something I have yet to think of.

Thank you!

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21 hours ago, beachdogz said:

 Even with this, she never seemed to grasp keeping all four feet on the board and she would sloppily go off the board.  Once it was time to raise the board, we put it on the table.

 

If she was not confident at this stage, I would not have moved her forward to the next stage. How did you define "once it was time to raise the board", if she couldn't do, and was not comfortable doing, the previous step. I like to see 80-90% success rate before challenging with more difficulty.

Frustrating, I know, but foundation work is so critical. (I am currently having a problem with one dog's backside approach. After fiddling a bit, I have decided to go all the way back to intro training.)

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Thank you for your responses. 

When I said this:  " Even with this, she never seemed to grasp keeping all four feet on the board and she would sloppily go off the board.  Once it was time to raise the board, we put it on the table. "  "Once it was time" meant that she WAS walking the board with all four feet on it.  She still does that when the board is on the ground (walks with all four feet on the board) but  raising it to the table is sort of freaking her out.  I will also say that when she walks the board on the ground, she flies over it.  Both these puppies don't do anything slowly.  My previous BCs were way more controlled going over things, but they were started later because they were adopted at a later age, and they were more laid-back personality-wise. 

I've already backed up to the board on the ground, and she seems comfortable with it on the ground.   I'm really in no hurry;  she is young.  I am wondering that when I want to advance to the ramp-to-table, if there is a better way to make her feel comfortable doing it.  Also, do you think I should reinforce the board on the ground daily -- or is that too much? 

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I think it would be fine to practice daily, but I would limit it to 2-3 minutes per session. And set it up so she can be as successful as possible. As you probably know, it is always better to have shorter, highly successful practice sessions than longer sessions where she has a low success rate.

Some dogs are just very sensitive to slight changes. I have heard of some dogs, when practicing running down the ramp of the dog walk, that just freak out when the one end of the board is raised too much. (Seriously, someone complained that if they raised the one end of the ramp more than 1/4 of an inch, their dog knew it and didn't like it.) Maybe raising the one end to the table without intermediate heights was just too much. I would go back to flatwork, then raise the one end gradually - maybe an inch at a time and see how she reacts.

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Thank you.  Good advice.  Instead of progressing to the ramp on the table, I will find something way, way lower.  I'll put my thinking cap on for that one.  I knew I was going to have to approach this very, very slowly -- and I'm ok with that. 

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I am not keen on mini dog walks as the striding is so different, I think it makes a difference even with a stopped contact. 
As the three planks are the same length, I would continue doing what you are at home with the plank on the ground, gradually raising it inch by inch at both ends. You can use the same plank for the down ramp, raising one end little by little at home until they get comfortable. 
Another thought, once they comfortable walking across, you also want to make sure they are comfortable sitting, turning, doing tricks, that’s when you really know they are comfortable. I trained my running DW with Anne Lenz online and before we progressed this one of the skills we had to show. 

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These are really great ideas and something I never thought of!  thank you!!  I especially never thought of the sitting and turning around.  And I never thought about mini dog walks being a problem with the stride. 

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On 3/14/2021 at 8:25 PM, beachdogz said:

These are really great ideas and something I never thought of!  thank you!!  I especially never thought of the sitting and turning around.  And I never thought about mini dog walks being a problem with the stride. 

I think in the days of slower contact behavior it wasn’t an issue, but as the speeds and skills have grown the dog is also learning when to run and when to slow, with a stopped contact you might not be specifically teaching the striding but the dog is learning it. With a mini DW the dog simply can’t get their striding right and the skill doesn’t transfer. 
I have a running DW and I am always fascinating when training turns of the end watching my dog calculate and adjust his striding compared to a straight exit, I didn’t teach him to adjust, he figured it out. 
They are still useful for the end behaviour and getting comfortable in the air and performing tricks on a narrow plank, but not for training the whole thing. 
I compete in a highly competitive country and speed is vital to move up and gain points, so the contacts take a huge significance when trying to improve course time.  

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Both of my dogs have an issue of doing everything way too fast, and it makes them difficult to teach.  My last two dogs were never like that, so training them was a lot easier.  My old school used to teach a two on/two off stop at the bottom of the A-frame.  This school puts a treat near the bottom so the dog stops to get it.  Except -- my little girl (the one I am having difficulty with) will run down the frame, jump off, then turn around to eat the treat!  Never had a dog do that before!

I have the plank 1 1/4 inch off the ground right now.  Not only am I battling her running super fast/crazy over the board (which sometimes leads to her feet not staying totally on the board), but when I ask for a sit, she just plops with her rear hanging off the plank and on the floor. 

UPDATE:  Was reading about teaching a dog (non-agility) to walk on a bench (like a park bench) so I took her out to our benches around the fire pit and worked with her getting up on those.   She was reticent at first, but she finally jumped up and walked it.  After a few of those, we went to the plank.  I was really pleased that she walked it well, (but fast), and then sat crooked, but still on it.  I then went to asking for sits 2 or 3 times while walking the plank - hoping that will eventually slow her down. She did those well, and actually, quite straight.  So we ended on a positive note!!  yay!!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/19/2021 at 11:36 PM, beachdogz said:

Both of my dogs have an issue of doing everything way too fast, and it makes them difficult to teach.  My last two dogs were never like that, so training them was a lot easier.  My old school used to teach a two on/two off stop at the bottom of the A-frame.  This school puts a treat near the bottom so the dog stops to get it.  Except -- my little girl (the one I am having difficulty with) will run down the frame, jump off, then turn around to eat the treat!  Never had a dog do that before!

I have the plank 1 1/4 inch off the ground right now.  Not only am I battling her running super fast/crazy over the board (which sometimes leads to her feet not staying totally on the board), but when I ask for a sit, she just plops with her rear hanging off the plank and on the floor. 

UPDATE:  Was reading about teaching a dog (non-agility) to walk on a bench (like a park bench) so I took her out to our benches around the fire pit and worked with her getting up on those.   She was reticent at first, but she finally jumped up and walked it.  After a few of those, we went to the plank.  I was really pleased that she walked it well, (but fast), and then sat crooked, but still on it.  I then went to asking for sits 2 or 3 times while walking the plank - hoping that will eventually slow her down. She did those well, and actually, quite straight.  So we ended on a positive note!!  yay!!

Teaching body awareness away from anything looking like agility equipment I think is a great idea, you are not slowing them down in an agility environment and any mistakes and worries won’t transfer. On your walks I am sure you can find loads of things for them to jump on and walk across or sit on, lie down. 
 

I teach a Jack Russel who did just what you described on the Aframe he challenges my imagination trying to out think his devious terrier mind. 

 

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You are so right about all of this.  Right now she is working on a plank and we have slowly worked up to 6 inches high.  I have the plank on my screened-in back porch, so it is there when we go in and out of the yard.  She is doing really well.  She will walk the plank, sit, and lie down...all on command.   We are still working to perfect "turn around", but she does that willingly - just a little sloppily.

She is still jumping and walking on the benches, and she has gotten really good with that.  No hesitation.  What I am finding is that all this is giving her more confidence that is transferring over to everyday life.  She ran up and down my husband's workshop stairs by herself with no coaxing (they are steep and open at the back - very scary looking) - something she would never do before!  And I think you are right on the nose when you say that teaching this outside the agility ring is beneficial because they cannot associate any failures with the agility ring. 

This has been one of the most beneficial teaching aides that I have ever done.  I do plan on looking for everyday opportunities to give them more exposure to many different challenges.  One will be the spiral staircase that is in my house! 

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On 4/1/2021 at 1:49 AM, beachdogz said:

You are so right about all of this.  Right now she is working on a plank and we have slowly worked up to 6 inches high.  I have the plank on my screened-in back porch, so it is there when we go in and out of the yard.  She is doing really well.  She will walk the plank, sit, and lie down...all on command.   We are still working to perfect "turn around", but she does that willingly - just a little sloppily.

She is still jumping and walking on the benches, and she has gotten really good with that.  No hesitation.  What I am finding is that all this is giving her more confidence that is transferring over to everyday life.  She ran up and down my husband's workshop stairs by herself with no coaxing (they are steep and open at the back - very scary looking) - something she would never do before!  And I think you are right on the nose when you say that teaching this outside the agility ring is beneficial because they cannot associate any failures with the agility ring. 

This has been one of the most beneficial teaching aides that I have ever done.  I do plan on looking for everyday opportunities to give them more exposure to many different challenges.  One will be the spiral staircase that is in my house! 

I am thrilled you are having success. I took Slyvia Trkmans puppy class when I got my young dog and so much of it is having them experiment away from anything that looks like agility equipment, climbing in boxes, cavalettis, riding a skateboard, closing cupboard doors, all sorts of things that give them the confidence to experiment and learn, and when they are old enough to move onto real agility they have that confidence to try. What’s ironic is he is really brave on equipment, but has been known to stop dead in front of a jump if he is unsure of what I want, but he is an over thinker and wants to be sure he is right. We have three different commands for sit depending on what I want, the older dog has 1.

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