Listo’s dogwalk training from the beginning

I’m a little behind on this thread.  My apologies if you were following along!  His dogwalk is now in the finishing stages.  I will follow this post with a video on what he is offering now and details on getting to that point.  In this post I will make the transition from independent target training and adding to the dogwalk planks.

When I am adding the target to the down plank of the dogwalk, I like to do it independently from the whole apparatus.  I elevate the board by putting it on a 20″ table or I will also use a 13″ flyball jump.  Anything that elevates the board and keeps it steady is good.  I like the table because my dog knows to jump up onto it and I can start the exercise with that behaviour first.  I have preplaced the target lid at the bottom of the plank.  The spacing should be enough for the dog to be able to place 2 front feet on the ground, keeping the back feet on the board in the yellow and able to put his nose to the ground comfortably.

There are some things to keep in mind when introducing the two behaviours together.  You want to click and treat anything that resembles an effort to touch the nose to the target.  It is very likely that the dog will swing off and look to you.  This is natural and we want to reward effort.  There are several ways to address this and I won’t go through them all.  I will say that I encourage a wait at the bottom and will click and reward that behaviour and then ask for a touch and then click and reward that behaviour.  I then release my dog from that position with an already known release word.  I will also mention here that another reason a dog will come off the plank is if you are leaning into their personal space.  Try to keep your shoulders forward and bend at the knees so you are keeping yourself closer to your dog’s head level.  The dog will also have a side that he is more comfortable.  Listo struggled with staying on the plank when he was on my right side.

Once Listo has shown me that he understands keeping himself on the board, offers multiple touches while in the wait position and releases with the release word, I add another dogwalk board.  This is the advantage of using the table.  I will use one board on each edge with a minimal flat space between boards.  Enough space that Listo was able to touch the table with one stride before going down the second side.  I should point out that as a handler you should be encouraging a straight approach onto the first board every time.  Do not let them cut up the side!  If that happens, start over.  Another advantage of using the dogwalk in pieces.  Using the two boards will now allow the dog to add some speed on the approach.  This may cause your dog to fall out of position at the end.  Reward effort!  Start again using whatever method you used before to keep your dog on the dogwalk board.  Keep practicing until you get a consistent result!

Next post will be adding to a full dogwalk to finish!  I promise it will appear shortly!!  Also planning a post on distance work which I will be addressing to a small degree in the next dogwalk post which will be titled “Listo dogwalk training to the finish”.  Thanks for reading and if you want to comment or have questions please note that this blog format allows interaction between blogger and reader!