O.k., time for your first homework!
1. find a way to make your dog run as fast as he can, tape him from the side and study his striding in slow motion or even frame by frame: how far apart his hind feet are, how far forward hind feet reach over front feet, how long and high the stride is, how his back looks like and where his head is: many people think you want low head for running contacts, but in fact, you want the head look exactly the same as when running full speed in the fields 🙂
2. have a dog run over the plank, tape him from the side and compare it with the video above - tape it at the height you're currently at. If you're just starting, restrain the dog before your plank, carpet or whatever you're using, throw a toy and release. Slowly bring the dog further away from the plank to really have them come to the plank with full speed. Mark anything that looks like running in the fields from the first video, jackpot when feet are hitting at the end of a plank/carpet (where the contact will be), but reward anything that is running. Don't forget to click it or at least mark it with your voice! I prefer clicking, but you can also first use a voice and start clicking later, when you know your dog's stride better and can predict it better.
This is a good check-up for those who are already running their dogs on a raised plank and a good stride-study that will help you see and mark the correct striding better for those just starting. Once you see your dog is running nicely, with an even stride, hind feet separation and hind feet reaching further from front feet, you can put a brick or something under one end of the plank and have them run over slightly raised plank - I'll tell you when you're ready based on the videos you'll send.
And yes, we're for now throwing a toy in advance, letting the dog chase it, in order to get full speed. So yes, the dog is rewarded every time with a ball - so make sure that you really make the best tries even more special, use excitement in your voice, a play of tug on his favourite toy or food if that's his real preference - in short: make a party about the really good ones and don't worry about not so good ones - just throw that ball again! 🙂
3. to make it easier for the dog to understand what you're clicking for on that plank, we'll be teaching some tricks that are important to help them understand how to use their feet and that you might be clicking them for using them. The two things you will try this time is cavaletti work - walking the dog over drawers or boxes on the floor - and teaching the dog to step with front feet on an object and clicking for any movements of hind feet: the final goal is a full circle in both directions, but first click even for just a weight shift and then go from there.
Post a video with all 3 assignments, first two in slow motion please!!! - But PLEASE cut out all the parts where I can't see the dog: because seeing just the plank, and that is slow motion, is absolutely no fun - and you can't imagine how many planks in slow motion I saw by now!
Also, read all the comments and see as many videos as possible, you can learn A LOT through videos and comments of others, that's why we do it in a class form in a first place!
Two pictures showing what I mean by hind feet reach: hind feet must land further ahead from where front feet were:
Two pictures showing what I mean by hind feet separation: hind feet must be hitting two different spots as far apart as possible (vs. staying parallel, hitting the same spot).
To take the explanation of hind feet separation and reach forward even further, here is a discussion we had with a first class on it, this is my comment to those two videos:
Experimenting with a full low dogwalk
Experimenting with throwing his toy
My comment: he doesn’t run fast enough – That’s my answer to 90% of problems with running contacts, so you will probably hear that a lot in next few months Any BC, running full speed, is deep down the contact if doing two strides on a dog-walk ramp, period. Even my PyrShep who is 37cm (14.5″) does the down ramp in two hits and I even know a Papillon that is trying to, despite we would prefer him to do 3 hits Meaning that if a BC does 2 hits and is too high, he is not running enough. That’s some general info for everybody, I’m just using your videos to discuss this topic as they show some very nice tries and some “not running enough” tries.
On most tries, you can see his hind feet come just shortly more forward from where the front feet where. Normally, when the dog runs full speed, hind feet will land significantly further ahead from where front feet were – just like you can see in “experimenting with the toy” video at 1:16, 2:16 and 2:27 tries for example – those were very nice!!!
The faster the dog is moving, the further ahead from front feet hind feet will be landing and as a consequence, you will have MUCH bigger length covered as if hind feet hit where front feet were – meaning that if Bi’s front feet are above the contact, her first hind foot will be in the middle of the contact and the second one will be right at it’s bottom. - While if the dog’s hind feet only come to where front feet were, he is missing the contact in this situation - instead of getting a perfect one
That’s exactly why I always get suspicious when I hear people saying their dog is hitting with 4 feet. With a BC size dog, running full speed with good hind feet separation, it’s pretty much impossible to fit all 4 feet in. 3 is possible, but if they can fit all 4 feet in that small area, they don’t cover enough of an area and when they will be higher, all 4 feet will be out of the contact. Bi on the other hand is a typical example of the dog covering LOTS of an area, meaning that even if her front feet are landing in the middle of the down ramp (yeah, she desperately wants to do it in one hit), the second hind foot will be in the contact, as you can see in this video:
Complicated? Don't worry, it gets easier when you start to see the dog's stride 🙂