We originally chose running contacts, because when I was just learning them a couple of years ago we tried 2o2o. The minute I'd try to stop, my backend would fall over my front end. It was kind of silly looking and not a good situation. We also found out later with other sheltie friends that it's pretty common with shelties. Most people want a nice running contact and I did before my muscle pull, but now that I'm faster and more eager, I'm blowing them. So, we decided to retrain them.
After a lot of thought on how to retrain them, we settled on a system. One that would give me specific criteria to meet, that would be clear, concise and one we could train on the flat and then apply it to the dog walk when we could get on the equipment at class. We reviewed Sylvia's method, and Rachel Sanders Frame method and more.
This is the plan we decided to follow:
- Utilize a mousepad (for me, a yellow floppy disc for Gracie, since we decided to teach Gracie the same method) for (lack of a better word) targeting.
- The criteria for targeting would be a paw touch on the pad - running to it and running off of it. Not a stop and not a nose touch, with the command 'get it.' (The command is so that we can continue to trial and work on our dog walk contact during trials, as well.)
- Begin training the paw touch on the flat, utilizing clicker work to help me know exactly what the criteria is.
- Move the mouse pad to a board (or in our case, our teeter board, since that's what we have at home), and continue the touch training.
- Take the mousepad to our trainers once a week and work with the mousepad on the full dog walk; continuing to decifer my striding and where to place the mousepad.
- Once the mousepad has found it's firm placement with my striding, and touches are hit 100%, begin to fade the mousepad by cutting it down in size over time. Also work on fading the size at home and continue working it on the flat.
So we've been into this work for about two weeks now. I only train on it a couple to few times per week. Gracie too.
During the first week, Trainer J didn't believe that I fully understood that the paw touch was the criteria, so we have continued to work to define it for me over the past week with clicker work on the flat. Mum thinks I'm really starting to get it now.
Here's a vid of our two weeks of work on the mouse pad. We added in the 'get it' during the second week. Mum's using 'get it' with me, but is still kind of shaping the behavior with Gracie.
This past weekend at the trial, Mum used 'get it' on almost all my dog walks. She saw me several times, look to the bottom of the dog walk and 'think' for a split second - gave me good boys for that. I didn't miss a single dog walk all weekend; so we think it's working.
Another one of the main goals is to get both me and Gracie good speed on the dog walk during this entire process. Gracie's dog walk is at about 1.8 seconds, mine is just under 3. So we'll be anxious to see how that goes as well.
Enjoy the vid!