Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flyball Overtraining

Woah...I'm on a blogging roll today! I'm sure this happens in all dog sports, but I know flyball pretty well and I definitely see it happening. My flyball team had a history of training every dog, every single week and doing lots of full runs.

It could be my imagination, but I believe full runs during practice weekly and nothing else is boring for dogs that are already trained. Sure, if you have lots of time to work on problems and green dogs and you have time left over, there are plenty of conditioning exercises and box improvements that are helpful for trained dogs....but every week?

With 7 dogs in training and several dogs with major issues, we decided to take all of our experienced dogs, split them into 2 groups and have them alternate weeks of practicing. I have been trying to get this to happen for years and am so happy that we finally did it.

I think our experienced dogs are way more excited about flyball after a week off and our green dogs are getting the attention that they need. I think people with multiple dogs don't mind saving a little bit of money either.

We've had several new personal bests in recent tournaments and I'd like to think it's related to this change.

flyball documentary?

This needs to be done! I can't believe no one has made one yet. There is so much great material in every region around the country. I would love to interview people to create an entertaining documentary for the people that already love flyball and help the others understand our love of this sport. I need help though...any takers?

All Hell Breaks Loose

I consider myself to be a decent dog trainer. I don't have a lot of experience, but I read a lot and am always trying new things. My biggest challenge is Indigo's barking and the dogs behavior at the front door. When someone knocks at the front door all hell breaks loose.

I've talked about this before and committed to giving Indigo a treat everytime someone knocks on the door and having people knock on the door a lot to speed up the process. I feel like I did this a lot and didn't have much success. I probably didn't give it long enough.

Indigo starts barking incessantly, which make the other two start barking at well. Then when someone walks in they charge and jump on the person.

I've tried lots of things that haven't worked or maybe I haven't given anything long enough to work.

Our current plan is to put the dogs in crates when we know that someone is coming over and then let them out one at a time, so we can work each one separately at appropriate greetings. They don't get let out until they stop barking. This helps keep the situation less chaotic, but hasn't reduced barking.

The barking is a larger problem and happens when anyone is outside or comes near the front door. For this we have been trying to distract Indigo by having her "find it" with treats or do simple tricks.

To prevent jumping we are doing mat work, which I'm hoping will eventually get them to stay when people come over. We are still pretty far from this.

I'm hoping someday I can fix this problem, but it feels very far away from reality.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

striding gutters for Pax & injuries for Pax

Pax has finally been getting more confident toward the box during full runs. He is officially ready to debut at a tournament. On this video you can see how much better he does with striding gutters! His box turn still needs work, but I'm happy with his progress.

One of his toes on his back feet is apparently really susceptible to injury. First he sprained it while chasing birds in our backyard. He runs full speed and then comes to a short stop. It finally got better and then he broke the nail to the point that it had to be removed. This was actually good because we learned that if his toe nails are kept short, he will be a lot less likely to have another injury! He is finally better now, but has to be wrapped during heavy activity.

He is one of those dogs that needs to be put in bubble wrap before competitions...he is really accident prone!

Zach in a Box

After two years of training we finally make progress with Zach! We decided that we want to make him really successful and not have to make too many choices. Often it's good to have a dog be challenged by a situation and make a good choice. We want to get to this point, but for a few weeks we just want to to be really successful.

As I mentioned in the last post, his problem is head to head box work or head to head runs. We completely boxed him and the box in, so his only options were to go to his handler or the box. First we ran him against our slowest dog and he had no reaction at all. He had never been able to go head to head with her before though. We switched her out for another medium speed dog and got the same result...perfect box work.

Next week we will move one gate halfway open. We also worked on the "focus on the handler game" and head to head dead ball retrieves with my border collie, Indigo.

It was the best he's done in months!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chasing Terrors!

There is a Jack/Rat terrier mix on my flyball team. He has been in training for about 1.5 years and runs himself. He can run with other dogs, but not head to head. Specifically, if he is headed toward the box and the same time as another dog, he will turn around and chase the other dog.

We have tried lots and lots of things to help him in general. He is very over threshold in the flyball environment and a generally stressed dog. His handler has done lots of work to calm him in less stressful environments with clicker training. We have tried some control unleashed games (give me a break, premack to go chase dogs and "look at that"). We had some success with these, but not enough consistency in playing the games, led to minimal success.

We recently figured out that his main problem area is between the 4th jump and the box. We finally figured out that doing full runs staggered, building up to head to head always ended up with a chase.

My newest plan is to be really conservative and try to never set up situations that he can chase other dogs, which is very rewarding for him. We will be doing head to head box work with him completely surrounded by gates and the focus on the handler game (alternating ball retrieves head to head). I would love to have him racing sometime this year. I think we can do it!

Outdoor Flyball Practice

Today we had an outdoor flyball practice. The weather in Seattle is rainy most of the time lately and another big chunk of time the field is wet. The crappy weather combined with a busy tournament schedule in the summer means that we usually only have 1 outdoor practice per year. This year I'd like to have at least 2-3. We have one outdoor tournament this year and it was great practice for that. It's also really nice to have as much space as we need and no time limit. We were there for 3.5 hours today and make lots of progress.

My favorite outdoor drill is long distance chase. It's great conditioning and teaches the dogs to run fast!!

Pax did well and still has no interest in chasing other dogs. He still needs gates or he will go around the jumps. Also his box turn looks a little bit awkward when he does full runs. He still needs more confidence and a slow build up of speed.

Indigo and Epic did great. Indigo ran for someone that she never met before while I ran Epic in the same lane and did great.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I started making tugs for people a few years ago and have considered starting to sell them at tournaments. I'm still experimenting with different styles. Here are some of the tugs I made recently for Indigo & Epic.

Spring Updates

Recent Results

5/14 Race Practice - Indigo, Epic and especially Pax had a great time. Pax finally had an opportunity to race with other whippets. He was faster than everyone he raced! We were very proud. Indigo & Epic are getting better at going after the lure and enjoy the exercise. We even got some video

5/28-30 Agility Trial - This was Indigo & Ben's agility debut. They went to a NADAC trial at Mega Dogs in Woodinville, WA. They had a great time and Ben got hooked on agility. She did well in tunnelers & hoopers and even won in those classes the first day. They need more work in jumpers, but Indigo was incredibly focused and patient with her new handler. Here is some video

6/4-5 Flyball Tournament - Cloverdale - We had a blast this past weekend at the Dogwood Pacesetters 25th Anniversary tournament. Indigo & Epic ran perfectly with best times of 3.72 (Indigo's PB) and 3.83 respectively. Their team won Division 2 both days and Epic earned his FMX title. There was a 1980s costume contest, a "history of flyball in the NW slideshow and a wonderful dinner, which was all very entertaining. The weather was awesome and we had hookups for camping. Perfect flyball weekend.

Upcoming Events

6/29 Agility Trial - NADAC - weavers
7/6 Agility Trial - NADAC - Touch & Go
7/9-10 Flyball Tournament - Salem (possible debut for Pax)
7/16 - Ben TTouch Seminar
7/23-24 Flyball Tournament - Maple Ridge
7/13-14 UFLI Flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
7/27-28 NAFA flyball Tournament - Vancouver Island
8/5,6,7 Whippet Specialty Event - Argus Ranch & CPE trial
9/17-18 NAFA tournament - Longview, WA
9/24-25 UFLI tournament - Gridley, CA
10/15-16 ASFA lure coursing Roy, WA