Time for a new lesson! And a "catch-up break" 🙂 With every class, we do a two weeks break for those who got somewhat behind to catch up and for those who are on schedule to give a dog a little break from plank running. I'll be answering your questions till Tuesday 4th October night and then again after 14 days, from 19th October morning again. Please don't post your videos during this time, I won't be reviewing old videos as things can change in 2 weeks.
If you're behind, make sure to complete lesson 1 before you start with lesson 2 and that you complete lesson 2 before starting with lesson 3 - you can't jump steps, there is a reason I'm giving you this assignments in the order that I do!
1. switch to a static toy, position it at the bar of a jump with a bar on the ground. The jump should be straight forward after the plank, about 7m away. The goal is the dog starts to look for a jump, knowing the toy is there. Occasionally, still throw a toy in advance, but mostly, have it there. When the dog already knows where it is, put a jump bar very low and a toy behind it (close after it, but far enough that the dog can land normally). Keep it there long enough that the dog is expecting it there. When you see the dog is pulling well towards the jump, knowing the toy is there, stop leaving the toy there and throw it after you click the contact, so that the dog gets it after the jump.
The goal is to switch from a static toy that is there as a target for the dog to focus him forward to a jump as a target to focus the dog forward and a toy as a reward we throw AFTER we see the contact is good. You need to be pretty quick as you don't want the dog to wait for the toy - so quick that I sometimes throw it before I realize the contact was actually not THAT good - but it gets easier 🙂 I guess this step will finally make everybody worried about rewarding leaps happy as now, you can withhold the toy for unsuccessful tries. HOWEVER, make sure the dog successful rate is high for this step as otherwise, you can loose the speed and get the dog checking back with you if you're throwing a toy or not. The same can be dangerous if you're late throwing a toy.
This is usually an easy step for BCs who will run full speed in anticipation of the toy, but can be a very hard one for some other dogs. For Le, that was the hardest step. She was running beautifully if the ball was still rolling when she saw it, but if I threw it that early that it was already static when she saw it (or when I positioned it there), then she didn't extend well enough. What finally worked was going few steps back with height, exciting her a lot with a toy, throwing it at the jump and sending her quickly to the dog-walk. That made her striding good enough to continue long enough to have her look for the jump and then I quickly switched to a toy, thrown after the contact is done, over the jump. That temporary caused some checking back with me, so I needed to go back to a stationary toy again, but then she finally got the idea to keep running full speed towards the jump/tunnel and trust the toy will appear then 🙂 and that again gave me the beautiful striding I had before trying to get rid of a toy, thrown in advance.
If the transition to a stationary toy is too hard, another way to try to avoid that phase is to pretend you are throwing a toy in advance, but then only throw it after. OR, using a tunnel as a way to focus the dog forward and throw it after the tunnel - works great with tunnel crazy dogs, didn't work with Le. Try and report back if you have problems.
2. keep adding height. If you have an option, it's also time to try the real thing. If you don't ahve a low DW you can use a normal dog-walk with additional plank at the end. Start with down ramp only and then slowly put the dog further&further back until you run the whole dog-walk.
When trying this or any other, new variable, don't vary other variables - make it as easy for the dog to succeed as possible. You can also lower a criteria somewhat. Normally, your criteria about hits by now should already be to be deeply in the contact - but temporary, you can click for good tries on a limit too, IF hind feet are well separated and the dog is not leaping.
3. new trick: have a dog back up on something very low and preferably soft first (folded blanket, low pillow) - then slowly add height, so that they need to pick up their hind legs higher&higher. At the same time, you can teach a "pee trick": click for lifting the leg, searching for an object, before they touch it. Make sure to try to get leg lifts on both sides - they usually prefer to go up with the same leg, so try to sometimes position them somewhat diagonally in front of an object so that their preferred leg is too far from it to start with that one. Also try climbing stairs backwards and cavaletti backwards.
Have fun! I'll be back to answering on 19th October and will publish new assignments on 7th November, so you'll again have 3 weeks to work on this assignment in class form - and 2 additional weeks to either catch up or take a break 🙂