Tuesday, June 24, 2008

some book/dvd reviews

My due date has passed, but no baby yet. So I am officially 10 months pregnant ;-)However, since I have wrapped up everything at work that means I have some time to do stuff that does not require a lot of moving :-) Yep, for the first time in about a year I've had some time to read stuff that is not related to my dissertation (which, BTW, I have completed, submitted, it's over and done with and if all goes well and the reviews are favorable I should be PHinisheD in September).

I had been looking for a really thorough running contact program for Eden. I started out wanting her to do a 2 on/2off, but after putting quite some effort into it I just don't think she has the speed and impetus to be successful with the method I used for Uma. The basic problem turned out to be her slowing down on the descent ramp, a problem which I easily solved with Uma by upping the motivator used to reward the dog in the 2 on/2off, that is switching from treats to a game of tug. With Eden, well, the promise of a game of tug does not cause her to lengthen her stride. Noth that she doesn't like tug. She just doesn't see the point in running full speed for her game of tug.

So after some deliberation I ordered Ali Roukas Canova's Running Contacts DVD. And... I love it :-) The biggest problem I've encountered so far with all running contact methods is that they were somehow incomplete. It seemed to me that they all skipped some basic step. Or, as I think is the case with Silvia Trkman's method (or the renditions of her explaining the method that I've seen on tape, as I haven't had the pleasure of working with her)they are too mechanical and don't allow the dog to completely understand the task, to think it through. Ali's method is very detailed, thorough and it just makes sense.

In summary, she does two things at the same time and completely independent of each other:

a) she teaches the dog long striding on contact obstacles (yeah!) by using a hoop to go under, a toy reward at the end and restrained recalls toward the toy. She is, however, very much aware of the fact that if the hoop was to go off, the dog would be very likely to jump off the yellow. So the hoops are just an element of the method, something of a management tool, while the most significant part requires quite a lot of thinking on the part of the dog. of course, she starts out with a low dogwalk and increases the height gradually.

b) Simultaneously with the hoop stuff she teaches the dog to touch a touch board with two front paws. The secret is TWO front paws, as it makes it much easier to distinguish a correct performance from an incorrect one when two paws are the criterion. She teaches a kind of "pounce" on the baord, by holding it in her lap as she is squatting down on the ground. Another ingredient which, I think, adds to the success of this method is NOT transferring the touch board to the contact obstacle quickly. In fact, she uses the touch board as an obstacle in itself while working simple jump/tunnel sequences. Again, what I have found a problem with attempting to teach running contacts to students was the transition from the board on the ground to the board on the contact onbstacle.

I still need to view the DVD again, think about it etc. but I feel encouraged to just try the entire method, section by section.

I also ordered Linda Mecklenburg's book on jumping, because I loved her articles in Clean Run, but missed quite a few of them. I also love it, though the one thing I wonder about is whether the fact that she teaches everything when the dog is NOT excited and with minimum speed involved will not hamper Eden's speed on course even further. It's one thing to work with a naturally fast border collie, but with Eden I do have to worry about getting the maximum speed out of her. But again something I'll have to chew on.

Oh, and a little video of Eden doing frisbee from last week:

Karolina tries to squeeze in a practice session with Uma every week, which keeps me motivated to work with Eden. I am 39 weeks pregnant in the video, so all that can happen is I might induce labor. Which would ba a GOOD thing at this point :-)

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