Friday, January 25, 2013

Flyball Practice

Last night at flyball the dogs did pretty awesome. Pallo's ball dropping has reappeared somewhat, but he is running well for the most part. I am making sure to reward him only when he carries the ball to me, and not at all if he drops it early. Since we have a much smaller runback at practice than we will at tournaments, I am hoping the ball dropping isn't too much of an issue at our upcoming tournament.

Koira's turn is doing awesome. We are right now working on her getting a good solid four footed snap off turn without a prop in. Since we are headed to a tournament the second weekend of February, I am hoping her turn is good enough to get her through singles without having to be pulled. So far, it is looking good. To fade the prop in front of the box, I am doing a few things. The first is that I put white tape on the front of the box, so it visually looks similar to there being a white prop there. In practices, we are doing full runs in lineups of 2-4 dogs. We generally do five heats twice through the night. I am having someone put a prop in for Koira's first, third, and fifth heat, but pull it out for the second and fourth. For the most part, her turn is staying high. I am withholding her tug reward if her rear is not staying high on the box with the prop out, and giving her a party when she keeps a nice high turn with no prop.

At home, we are also working. I have been sending her a short distance (my house is small and it is wet outside) to the box, without a prop. No reward for poor turns, big fun for good turns. If she does two poor turns in a row, the prop goes in for one turn, then back out. I think it is helping make things click for her, the difference between what I want and don't want. We've been doing these practices most every day for the past week, and will keep them up daily until the tournament.

I also built a wall board for Koira, which I haven't tried out yet. It is basically a piece of (thick) plywood that is 2 feet by 3 feet, and covered in padding. I found those interlocking multicolored squares that they make for kid's play rooms for a buck at a thrift store, so decided to use those. Yes, the board is kind of...colorful... as a result. The point of the wall board will be to practice high, fast turns with no chance for "running" across the box or double hitting at all, since it is close to impossible to double hit on a vertical surface.

Something I noticed while doing training at home is that Koira is apparently thinking we are doing two different games based on where I am standing. She does beautiful box bounces (no ball) if I am standing up near the box off to the side. Same with using the wall board. But, she has no idea how to do a bounce if I am backed up and releasing her toward the box/board, rather than standing next to it. She only gets it if there is a ball in the box. Which leads me to believe that I need to somehow show her that these games are in fact one and the same, and that she can run down and do a turn off the box, even if there isn't a ball there. Any ideas on how to do this?


  1. Your question poses something similar to what Elli and I are working on in Nose Work. The sports are totally different, yeah, but the behaviors are very closely related.

    I want a duration nose-touch no matter what I might be doing. I might even be resisting the nose-touch by pulling her away from it. I might be walking in arcs around her. I might squat. I might be jumping. I want the nose-touch no matter what.

    Yours sounds similar: you want the high turn no matter where you are. So practice segments of each position. Establish the boundaries: where does she fail - precisely. Where does she succeed - precisely? Work between the thresholds. Can she successfully do a high turn with you standing between her boundaries? If not, split that even further.

    For Elli: I might just hop in place. Can she keep a nose touch? If not, I might pretend to jump or bend my knees. If yes, then a bigger hop is next. Etc, etc.

    You might also factor in distance. Don't work on both things at the same time until she's 80% successful at each "new" handler position.

  2. Where is the tournament in February? I wonder if it's the one I'm going to.

  3. I forget that we're on opposite sides of the continent. I'm at Rocket Relay's tournament in Ancaster, ON the second or third weekend of February.

  4. I am also retraining my dog's turn. Do you have a command for the box turn? Mine has been changed to "on" (we changed the command when we decided to retrain the turn to try to make it a "new" trick).
    I then pair it with "go" (from agility- this sends her away from me) to get her to run to the box as we back up little by little.

    I'm doing the same things as you are with my props. I've decided retraining the box turn is not so much fun... *sigh* but it will be worth it

  5. Not really a box turn command. When I release Koira to the box, I say "ready, set, go get your ball". But I only do that sequence if we are doing full runs. Otherwise, I just ask her ready, and release her.