Well, our next dog sport activity will be flyball at the end of this month. And so now I’m trying to focus on Jet’s box turn. And I’m not really happy with it at the moment.
When the ball goes into the box, he forgets about his rear. If there is no ball in the box, he has a nice swimmer’s turn. I need to get some more video and post it up. I’ve loaned the practice box I had to another person learning flyball and so now I’m thinking I need something for Jet to practice on. I hope to build a ramp like the one in this picture.
But seriously I want Jet to understand his rear end and how he should push off the box with his rear once the ball is in his mouth. So I’m brain-storming ideas of how to do this. Very unconventional ideas, of course, because that’s how all my flyball and agility training seems to be anymore. I’m sure, for some dogs, it’s like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. Rather tricky to coordinate the two. While Jet is a good catch of food and balls, sometimes he’s a bit awkward with various parts of his body.
So I’m trying to clicker train him to have a push with his rear legs. How’s that for unique? He actually has really nice rear-end awareness when it comes to agility and contacts. He has a nice 2o2o and he’ll back up onto a contact and feel the board with his feet. So he knows he has a rear. He also has nice rear-end awareness when it comes to moving his rear in for obedience heeling. When I make a left turn, his rear swings in really nicely. And he holds his heeling position too. I started that using a perch box where when he put his front feet on the box and when he moved his rear end I’d click/treat. And he’s stellar with that too.
So the theory now is to get him to put a back foot into the palm of my hand and click/treat for it. He’s doing okay but he steps backward when he does it (he has a super nice back-up too). So when his foot goes into my hand I C/T. I hope to move this into a form of push off my hand with his foot, and then move that to a push off this new fancy schmancy flyball ramp I’m going to build.
I figure I’ll probably Velcro a ball onto the ramp once it’s done, and after he really gets that rear end push movement going. So far, we are taking baby steps and he’s just putting a rear foot in my palm. Which, I figure, will be a cute trick anyway even if this doesn’t work out as a new fangled off-the-wall rear-end flyball box turning training adventure. 🙂
Clicker Training is breaking behaviors down into their very minimalistic parts. So I’m trying to do that with this and see what we get! Once this is complete and perfected I’ll treat us to some Outer Banks vacation homes for a vacation!
edit later —-
I’ve been thinking about this more and I’m thinking now… maybe I’ll have a jump, or a prop (long jump) and put a ball really close to the far side of the prop. Release Jet, have him jump over the prop, grab the ball, then jump back over to get back to me. Thus a really basic on-the-floor ball-turn sans box. Hrm… I’m going to have to go home and try this tonight. Maybe this will help him jump back over with his rear, and have the ball in his mouth. I’ll try to get some video. Then I can start putting the ball up on a ramp and get it higher and higher until it’s angled the same as the real box. Hmmm… the wheels are spinning!