The Sunday practices are smaller and we structure them differently from our team practice. Instead of doing mostly full runs in lineups, which is what we do most of on Thursdays, we have been doing a varied practice on Sundays. Power jumping, wall board practice, drills, games, etc, tend to be the thing. It helps to mix things up a bit and work on different stuff.
This morning, I did wall work with both dogs. Pallo has always been good with wall work. He hits a vertical wall board pretty much exactly the same as he hits the flyball box. Ideally he would hit the wall board higher than he hits the box, but his turn is nice enough that I am not going to mess with him too much. Koira was doing some gorgeous bounces off the wall board. One of my awesome teammates figured out a way to attach a padded wall board to the wall of the training facility without making it permanent or damaging the walls, while keeping it sturdy enough to use safely with the dogs. Koira's bounces were high and tight and beautiful, despite her poor wrapped up foot.
I had Koira in a pretty heavy duty foot wrap, since her toe nail is not anywhere close to healed yet. She seriously wanted to play, though, and has been getting a bit stir crazy from only on leash walks. So I just put some gauze around the toe to pad it, wrapped it up with vet wrap, then covered the whole thing with athletic tape to keep it from coming off. Of course, she lost two different wraps first before I got one on her that stayed. The toe did end up bleeding a little, but not horrible, and less than what she has done to it on an on leash walk. But... she had so much fun, and she really, really wanted to play. I just couldn't make her sit it out.
We also did some jump grid work with Pallo. Basically, we took four jumps and set them up in a square, and had him navigate them in various ways. It helps get the dog to think about the jumps and pay attention to the handler. Doing these grids is part of my plan to change Pallo's picture at flyball and get him to start thinking about what he is doing instead of melting into an excited pile of goo and being unable to do anything.
|Zip the Tervuren|
The other drill I did with both dogs was to set them up to do runaways while another dog did full runs right next to them. We set up two lanes with only about a foot between them instead of the 8+ feet normally separating the lanes. Then, I would hand my dog off to someone at the box and go down to the run back area. The dog in the other lane would do a full run down to the box and back, and the person holding my dog would release my dog to run back to me when the dog doing the full run hit the box. It helps get both dogs really digging in to beat the other one back. Koira ran against Zip, an incredibly enthusiastic Tervuren on our team, while Pallo was matched against Trix the border collie, the fastest dog on our team (he did get a bit of a head start to give Trix a better match at the finish line). Both dogs had a blast.
|Trix the border collie, fastest dog on our team|
We ended practice working with Rush, a Jack Russel on our team who has some issues with jumping. She has some poor structure in the rear, but her issues with jumping seem as much mental as physical. Even though she is experienced, she sometimes skips jumps, and she looks very awkward while jumping much of the time. Launching too early for the jumps is a big part of it. Just to see if we could figure it out, I sat on the floor near the lane and started putting slats down as stride bumps for her. We tried one slat to start with, then ended up adding three more in strategic locations. Her last run was amazingly smooth- the best, smoothest jumping I have ever seen from her. We had three slats on the ground between the last jump and the box, and one between the two jumps. She was being started two jumps back. We'll probably have to work on it and adjust it, but I have high hopes, and think we will see some amazing things if we keep it up with her.
|Rush, jumping way too soon, at a previous practice.|
Of course, a small practice meant we were all busy helping out or running dogs, so the pictures I included are from our practice just before Christmas. We have an annual potluck and team meeting, so I went even though I didn't run either of my dogs. It meant I got to spend some time taking pictures of the rest of the team, which was fun. But as usual, I can't get photos of my own dogs!
|Tank, another team dog. I just love this picture of him.|