Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ball Obession Progress

I've been working with a border collie from my flyball team with serious ball obsession. He is so obsessed that he imagines balls that aren't there. He especially loves going for moving balls, which isn't great for flyball. I've seen people run dogs that are chasing balls all over the place in the run back and it's dangerous and looks stressful. The main thing I always hear is keep tennis balls away from the dog outside of flyball. I understand this to a point. You don't want to constantly play ball with a dog that you are trying to convince to NOT find tennis balls highly rewarding. On the other hand, you don't want to deprive them of something they love, so that when they finally see one they freak out and obsess even more.

What has been working is overwhelming him with tennis balls at home. He sleeps in a crate full of tennis balls and over several weeks has gotten less and less obsessed with those balls. He is also getting good at "leave it" when someone is bouncing a ball. We've been playing a game with him to build tug drive. You throw the tug out about 5 feet, restrain the dog and then race him to the tug. You beat him to the tug two times and don't let him get it. On the third time you get it, but then run away and get him to chase and get the tug. By this time he wants the tug BAD! This works well. It would be helpful for anyone looking to build tug drive.

I think I might also try "Its Yer Choice". I've been playing this game of impulse control with my dogs and it works really well. Also I'm signed up for Susan Garretts Recall Class., maybe that will give him some ideas!

Training work = Prevention from getting a new dog

The 3 of my own dogs I've trained for flyball have been fairly easy. Indigo started around her first birthday and has been pretty ideal. She's never had any issues and her striding, jumping and box turn are all good..and I trained her before I really knew what I was doing.

When I trained Goose I knew a little bit more and he was a little more work. We got him at 1.5 years and he had lived with a pack of dogs. He never tugged. Luckily he had plenty of drive, willingness to work and good structure. Ben got him in June and he ran in his first tournament by December of that same year.

Pax came to us at 5 months old and was a tugging machine. I think he is the craziest tugger on our team. He has been a bit more of a challenge. He doesn't chase and he is an honest dog/tries hard, but his striding has been off and he hesitates going down to the box. He has run anywhere from 3.72 to 4.2 depending on his striding and box turn. 

Here are Indigo, Deco (mini aussie) and Pax. I'm trying to bring down Pax's "jump-box-jump" time by adding gutters. Getting them in the right places has been a challenge. I finally figured out that he needs one on the way in so that he doesn't slide and one on the way back so he takes 3 strides. He clears the jumps much better and is faster this way!

I've also been working on putting him him the lineup. He still will go around the jumps if I pass him too tightly (again worried about running full speed into another dog).

The one good thing about his training challenges is that it's keeping me from getting another dog (for a little while). I've already started looking! Working with him does give me something to do at least.

We have a tournament this weekend. We will be running the same team as we did in November. We got a new flyball bag! I'm so excited it's supposed to be here by Friday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blow the Terrier Mind

I've tried everything to fix terrier chasing problems, or at least it feels that way. What has been working lately is taking it very slowly. We run our chasing terrier against an 8 second dog, if he does well rather than make it harder right away, we wait several weeks before introducing him to a 6 second dog. He is finally able to handle a 4.5 second dog 95% of the time.

I recently heard that it helps to use three boxes in a row and put the chasing dog in the middle. The theory is that the chasing dog won't be able to make a quick decision about who to chase, so he stays in his lane. The lanes were very close together. The dogs were all released at the same time and it seemed to work...or he didn't try to chase anyone. I think this drill could also be helpful to improve speed to the box.


November Tournament Results

Two weeks ago we went to Canada for the November Flying Squad flyball tournament. Our three dogs were on the same team. I ran Pax, Ben ran Goose and Jeff ran Indy. We were seeded at the bottom of Division 1 with a 17.5. We realized quickly that we could go a lot faster than this, as we broke 17 right away. We kept breaking the JCJ NAFA record with each race. Goose and Indy were solid as usual. Indy and her handler Jeff are a great team. Pax was in start because he tends to slow down  A LOT when passing into another dog. I am very happy with his performance overall. He didn’t make any errors all weekend, running between 3.8 and 4.2 depending on his striding and box turn.  I have a lot to work on with him! His striding is off going into the box after on the way back as well. Also some of his box turns were really wide. He was really fun to run and I’m excited for a long flyball career for him. Our best team time of the weekend was 16.60.
We have two more tournaments coming up, one the first week in December and one for New Years Eve!
I went to watch Pax and Indy practice agility last night after several months of not seeing them. Indy was way over the top crazy (even after a trip to the park), but she was able to hit her contacts on the dogwalk. She still doesn’t have a good running contact on the A frame. Pax looked great! He is starting weave training and is extremely focused on Ben and seems to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dog Sport Updates and Flyball Thoughts

We are going to our first flyball tournament since Gridley this weekend! Pax, Indy and Goose are all on our “A” team. I’m hoping we can break our NAFA team record of 17.2. Pax will be running full time on the team for the first time!
We went lure coursing with Pax and he did awesome! I think this is his favorite sport. It was amazing to watch, but so much slower than flyball! There have been several race practices, but it’s hard for us to get to them with flyball practice. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a NOTRA race for him or possibly even some open field coursing this winter in California.
Indigo started back up with Nose Work and is working on more difficult hides. She is ready for her ORT and probably NWI trial, but I haven’t even had a chance to look at the schedule.
Indigo and Pax are both doing well in agility. Pax is learning weaves and rear crosses and Indigo is back to 2o2o contacts, which will hopefully allow her to enter a standard trial someday. Ben had a really hard time teaching her running contacts. Indigo has a trial Thanksgiving weekend. Will she learn her contacts by then? I hope so!
In flyball Pax is working on confidence going into passes and holding his ball. To work on going into passes, I changed the drill a bit. Last week we tried it this way: You need two holders, two dogs, two handlers, and one four jump lane with no box and a big run back with jumps adjusted so there is an extra one in the run back and one less in front of the box area. Holder 1 stands around where Dog 1 would normally start. Handler one stands with tug at jump 3 going toward the box area. Holder 2 has dog 2 in the box area and handler two has a tug near jump 8 in the run back. Holder 2 lets dog 2 go like for a normal recall. Holder 1 lets Dog 1 go for a tight pass (or as the dogs can handle) but instead of going to the box, handler 1 starts running toward the box area and catches dog 1 there. And then switch dogs. This teaches Dog 1 to run full speed to the box into another dog. Eventhough the box isn’t there isn’t cued the same and more comfortable for some dogs to recall to a tug than to run toward the box.
Other thing that I am working on with team dogs are: ball obsession (still haven’t found a method that works) and striding. My question about striding is whether there is a benefit to putting a noodle on top of the jump to “flatten” out the dog. From everything I know about jumping, it doesn’t make sense. So, I’m focusing more on striding gutters.