Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Flyball training: touch stick progress

Both Koira and Pallo have made a ton of progress doing training with their touch stick. I managed to (finally) build a jump out of some scrap super-light plywood and my mom's chop saw yesterday. Today, I tried both Pallo and Koira on doing over-and-backs with a touch stick.

Over-and-backs are something I have worked with both of them with before. Pallo learned it when I first started doing flyball training with him, and Koira saw it when I was busy retraining her box turn, the first time. Doing it with the touch stick is way more different than I thought it would be.

What the dogs should be doing is hopping over a single jump (me holding touch stick on the other side for them to go toward). As soon as the dog's front feet are over, I whip the stick back to my side of the jump, the idea being that the dog will quickly hop back over the jump to me after landing on the far side. This is what I refer to as an over-and-back (some people call it a hup-back).

Pallo is a bit hesitant on the return part of this exersize. I'm not sure why, but I think its because the stick is gone before he gets to touch it with his nose. After two sessions today (about five minutes each) he has lost a lot of that hesitancy and is doing the over-and-back relatively smoothly.

Koira still doesn't like touching the end of the stick really, despite having learned the behavior very well. She actually really seems to like this exersize, as she realized after one try that she gets a click and treat without ever having to put her nose on the stick. It also took me a few repetitions before I realized that she needed a little bit of vocal encouragement. Pallo needs me to be quiet, Koira needs me to talk. Once I started asking if she was ready, and then saying "Go touch it" the whole thing seemed to click with her. She very quickly started offering over-and-backs that are incredibly smooth, quick, and enthusiastic.

I will keep doing the over-and-backs, but think I will introduce the wall work soon as well, to give them a new challenge. I know it will improve their turns greatly (though Pallo already has a damn good turn).

I am excited to do this whole new box turn training method. The box turn training is the big nemesis of many flyball trainers, and if the process can be made easier, with a great, solid, high, fast, single hitting box turn as the result, its pretty amazing to think about.

Hopefully I will soon have another person around to help out at training and maybe take some pictures of my pup's working their new skills. I have zero skill at taking a picture while trying to do anything else at all.

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