I have been thinking for quite some time that I should switch Ruby’s dog walk performance to stopped contacts. He gets all crazy and wild-eyed when running over the dog walk and it’s not safe to be in that state of mind at that elevation and that speed. I love running contacts so this was quite a hard decision to make and I was postponing it… Until last week when Ruby fell off the dog walk. He landed on all four, but something went wrong as he started limping after the session. I made another physiotherapy appointment. Luckily his muscles were just stiff and hard, nothing was torn.
I think it’s time to change something before he really gets hurt. I’m hoping that since 2on2off is not quite as exciting as running downhill after a ball it will make him slower and more thoughtful. We have trained 2on2off position on a dog walk in the fall of 2011 already. This video is from that time:
His stopped contact was actually much more reliable than the video shows – it’s just that 2on2off is such a boring behavior for me that I used mostly bloopers for the video 🙂 So hopefully he will remember some of that training. What I didn’t train at that time and would love to train now is a really good forward focus so that even if I lag behind he will still get in the position and put his front paws forward, not off to the side of DW. We’ll see how that goes.
The upside of switching to 2on2off (besides the safety issue) is that I won’t have to train running turns off the dog walk. Training turns can be tricky and it often messes up the straight exits off the DW. Not to mention that handling turns after the running dog walk is definitely beyond my current capability 🙂
Ruby’s Aframe performance will stay running. Since he had some shoulder problems my plan is to not train Aframe at all. I plan to only run it in sequences and if he misses the contact, he misses. I would much rather have a dog who can run agility for many years to come, but misses the Aframe contact, than have a dog who hits the contact for one season and then has so many shoulder problems that he needs to stop doing agility altogether.