If you read this regularly or know our team you'll know that we are currently in the process of changing boxes from the boomerang to the flat front style. We still do not have our new box or a chute as apparently men aren't as handy as they used to be :-P (hopefully this will be sorted by the new yr!)!
But I am pushing on with the training nonetheless. I have been getting the dogs to jump over and back over a 6inch jump. The handler releases their dog from about 10ft, I stand the other side of the jump with a ball and when all four feet are over the jump i throw the ball back towards the handler. When the dog is comfortable with this and is anticipating the turn and throw of the ball I am putting our old box about 5ft back from the jump so that they learn that the box is not necessarily the target but they must just again perform the turn over the jump. As we don't have a chute yet I am using our boomerangs as a make shift one just for the dogs to turn on without it being loaded. I am gradually moving the box forward so that the dog is eventually making contact with the box as it turns. Today was the 4th session of this box work and all the dogs were brilliant. Today we had i think 16 dogs at training and i managed to get all but 2 of them turning on the box with all 4 feet. Some of the turns were just stunning, especially Sonny who we've always had problems with as he is so ball obsessed that he doesn't think about the turn just getting the ball but the change is incredible. The good thing about me having the ball is that they always get correctly rewarded for the behaviour I want and because i'm throwing the ball they are really snapping back off straight to chase it. I originally wanted them to be able to go and turn off the box independently with no ball and with me not standing there on command so that the transition between boomerang - chute - flat front is easier. But now I actually think that shaping the turn whilst they are focusing on the ball may make the transition easier as during a full run the ball is what the dogs are looking at and is what also messes up the turn when the dog has practised for so long with no ball. Therefore if i can create a turn where the dog is focusing on a ball at the same time then when it actually has to trigger a box with the ball loaded the difference is minimal. Thats the theory anyway but we will see how it progresses!
The two dogs that didn't manage to get 4 feet on are actually brother and sister and seemed to have a problem with putting there back feet on the box like they didn't trust it. They are both cautious on our boomerang anyway despite being 7yrs old and doing flyball all there lives. I am getting there owners to get them used to jumping on and off a piece of wood on the ground and also walking them around their leg on to the boomerang box to get them over this fear. I actually think they will feel more comfortable on a flat front as the movement is less and it is quieter. We've got some lovely starters coming on aswell, think we might have enough for 2 teams in the spring! Got a couple that look like there gonna be very fast, yay :-D!
As we've been doing no full runs the dogs have been doing power training and working on changeovers from restrained recalls. All the dogs are thriving on this, they are soo enthusiastic. We've been running them over 6 or 8 jumps gradually increasing the height until the big dogs were doing 6 jumps over 15 inches and the little dogs and oldies were doing 6 jumps over 11 or 12 inches. The changeovers from restrained recalls have really benefited the more nervous and the starter dogs as they have so much drive when they are chasing their owner for there ball that they hardly notice another dog coming towards them. Asher came out for a bit at the end (apparently just to show off lol) and was completely loopy, he did some power training and some box work and just loved it.
I am currently however having a recurring nightmare about the dogs turns. It really is my worst nightmare that the dogs will come out in the spring and not turn properly! I don't want to be one of those teams that gets a new box thinking it will automatically make them faster without putting in the work and I now see all the dogs as a reflection of me as a trainer, feeling the pressure lol!
6 months ago