Wednesday, March 20, 2013

whippet flyball update

Pax thinks he is a border collie and runs into the building for his recall. It's so cute!

We've been working hard on our flyball training. Our new training facility is awesome. I've been going twice a week to work with the dogs for the last several months and have made lots of progress. Our rental house doesn't have much space for training and outside is not an option right now, so I really depend on this time to train the dogs. Hopefully with our new house, I'll add a space to do some indoor and outdoor training during the summer too. The other thing that is lacking at the moment is conditioning for the dogs. They are not in great shape right now. All they get is a hike 5 days a week. No sprinting or muscle building activities unfortunately.

Luckily one of my teammates also is motivated to train twice a week and we are always able to get at least one more person to help on our Wednesday morning sessions. I typically just train Spy and Pax on Wednesday mornings, but lately have been working on Goose's box turn too. On Sunday night, we try to work all the dogs, using Indy as a distraction dog since she isn't working on anything. She also gets to be my demo dog for flyball class and when we are teaching our recall class too.

Oh yeah, my teammate and I started teaching a few classes at the training center. I've been trying to get to the point that I could teach classes outside of flyball for awhile, so this is super exciting. We are also starting an impulse control class in a few weeks. I love training and preparing for the classes gives me lots of ideas for my own dogs that I can use for flyball training.

Oh the whippets. Gotta love them. Spy, spy, spy. Getting a whippet for flyball is like day-trading and getting a border collie is like investing your money in retirement account. Whippets are usually either amazing and the biggest return or they don't play at all. I know there is some in between, but it holds true more than other breeds. And border collies almost always can play, and it's just a matter of how fast they are...but pretty reliably you know you'll get something pretty good.

Pax was incredibly easy to train. His only issues are related to me trying to get the best out of him. He was amazing from the day we brought him home. Fully focused and never once shut down. And then there's Spy. This little girl is going to make me work hard. She is so very distracted by everything.....people, a noise, another dog standing there, a piece of food on the ground etc. Sometimes when I'm trying to work with her she just wanders off. It's pretty frustrating, but she does have tug drive and is interested in I'll take that and keep at it.

My plan for her at the moment is to get her to reliably do head to head recalls, and only allow her to greet people when released to do so..especially when it's training time! At home I'm working on her wall turn, tug drive and ball retrieve.

I finally got out of my training rut with Pax and found a set up that works for him! I am actually always working on finding ways to get him to rotate into the lane without using a headboard and am still deciding how to fade down his props. For some reason the black tape covered gutter was really making him launch and now I think it's almost a cue to launch. Since we started using a FedEx box, taped up white..he takes three strides out every time and hasn't launched once. When I fade that out, I'll have to go to something other than the black striped gutter.

Well, if the 3.6's weren't shocking enough at the tournament last month...Pax busted out all 3.5s on his first race out last weekend. His best time was a 3.568. I was calling passes and became totally useless when this happened. I think my jaw actually dropped. His return was amazing. I had no idea he was capable of 3.5. I always thought at best, he'd be a solid 3.7 dog. In his second race he ran two 3.5s and a 3.6 and then we pulled him. Perfect weekend for him.

He has a full time spot next month, but I will list Indigo on his team and put her in for him if I don't like what he is doing. After all this time retraining him, I don't want to lose everything I worked for.

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