Bouncing Off the Wall – Flyball Box Training

Okay so Chase and I went outside today to see about teaching him to bounce off the wall. This is how Touch n Go recommended box training.. After, of course, doing some jump training first.

So out we go, I have him put his front feet on the wall and measure out where he should jump to, put up a strip of tape… pulled out a tug toy, and lead him around toward the wall.

How many times do you think it took him? Guess… guess! Okay, I’ll tell you. He got it on the first try. This boy is super smart. So I though I needed to video it. 🙂 What do you think?

Flyball Seminar is Fun!

Chase Today we had an awesome day at the flyball seminar. Touch n Go are great, they really know their stuff, and they are also very personable and easy to talk to and work with. They give us great advice and are very tactful. Even when they tell us our dogs are overweight! But we know that and that’s okay, they have some winter fat on them.

Tinker The picture to the right is of Tinker, a Jack Russel Terrier on our team that does such a great job! And, of course, I’ve been having a really fun time with my new digital SLR camera. I could just sit there and take pictures all day long of these dogs, and I’m learning how and when to focus the camera.

Apache And to the left is Apache. She is an Australian Cattle Dog girl that loves her flyball. She is also part of the Dazzle Dogs show that her Mom puts on. And, cool of cool… Apache is deaf! She does such a great job and has a beautiful box turn.

If you click on these pictures you can see bigger versions of them.

Anyway, so today we went over the basics of training the box turn from scratch. We got some great ideas and I am going to start training Chase, Muffit and Tatum to, literally, bounce off the wall in the back yard. That will be fun to do. And now that I have seen the progress the dogs follows, including just getting their front on the wall to begin with, I am really excited to start trying it.

Anyway, I’ve had too much wine to drink and it’s almost time for bed anyway. And Monday we will have a long ride home, fortunately we are not driving home Sunday night. And our car insurance is all good so we should be set for our trip home!

Clicking that Rear End

In my continuing pursuit of finding a reliable, solid, positive way to clicker train the flyball box, Tatum is being my experimental dog. She is so smart. She is doing great with her mat. I’ve changed the criteria so now she has to lie down on the mat, as I want that to be her default behavior. She’s getting it. The look on her face when she stands on the mat and gets no click is just priceless. 🙂 She is figuring out that criteria changes, gets harder!

She is reliably pawing my hands now. And, of course, she’s using that behavior to try to get anything else, too. So that is going to have to go on cue very soon, so it ALWAYS happens on cue, and ONLY happens on cue. You know dogs and their feet. Just like us monkeys sometimes!

She is also reliably touching a white piece of cardboard with her front feet. She’s getting both on, though slightly, as it’s small. I need to find a phone book. We just usually throws ours away now and use the internet to find phone numbers.

I really want her to have exceptional rear-end awareness. And so I have a special toy (it was all I could find last night) that I put up to her back hips and click/treat. So she knows that the toy (I need a good unique stick with a shape on it to do this, really) touching her hip gets a reaction. Eventually, though it might take a while, I want her to move her hip toward the target so she knows she is moving that back end for her reward.

I’m also clicking and treating her for when I touch her feet, all four of them. This, of course, will not only be useful for flyball, but also for obedience and trimming those darn toenails, which she hates so much. Last night she was starting to hold still for me as I touched a foot. Sometimes I would lift it off the ground, sometimes not. Before I would C/T for only when I touched them, didn’t matter if she moved away. Now I’m only C/T when she doesn’t move away. And she’s catching on. And she’s not dying when her feet are touched. 🙂

What I’ll do after she has that rear-end awareness is get her to touch a foot target with her back foot on the ground. And then I can put it up on the box, and maybe pair it with the front foot touch. Probably I’ll do this on the flat first… front foot touch, rear foot touch, click treat. When she is dong that, up on the flyball box it will go. And I want her high on that box. And pushing off with her rear.

I have confidence this is going to work. It might be slow, but she’s not built like a border collie and she’s really going to need that rear end push off on the box. She’s my smooth collie girl, and I’m really having fun shaping this with her. And she is too. Last night, she didn’t want training to stop!

Flyball Seminar Coming Up!

Woo Hoo I am so excited! I’ve been sleepy today but then I got my confirmation papers (email) for the Touch n Go Flyball Seminar in Last Vegas in.. in only a week!

Three days. Well, Friday will be for Tatum, and Saturday and Sunday will be for Chase. Looks like our team, Thunder Paws here in Utah, will have to bring our own box. And I have crates and food and clothes to bring, too. Man, there is always a ton to bring when bringing the dogs. It was so weird going to the Clicker Exp and only bringing stuff for me. I felt so light and empty.

We still haven’t decided who is driving down with whom.. or if we are taking one van or two cars. Or when we are leaving from Salt Lake City and when we are leaving from Las Vegas to come home. But it will all work out in the end.

I will have to pack this weekend, get all my stuff together. Monday will be busy, and Sunday a little bit with a private lesson and puppy class, but I should have some time. And Saturday will be my self-imposed down day. I’m going to need a zero gravity recliner when I get back, in order to rest! I’m sure it will be an information packed weekend and my brain will be loosing it by Sunday. But it’ll be fun!

Tatum is Officially Clicker Savvy

First off, dogs like to lay their heads on keyboards, and it makes it hard to type!

So anyway I want to teach Tatum flyball the right way. And she’s not very high drive when it’s just me and her… so we are working on the small bits. I want her to have a nice swimmer’s turn.

There is a good article on training the box, which starts with very basic steps, over on Flyballdog Tag. And we need basics. Microshaping, even.

I got out the clicker and treats and I put down a white lid. Tatum knows to touch it with her nose, to run over to it and get treats, but not how to put her feet on it. So first step, get the feet on it. Well, she wasn’t moving her feet at all, so I put the white lid away and started to teach her to just move her feet.

She laid down, which was fine, and to get her to move her feet I put a treat in my hand and moved my hand far too her right. When she turned her body (lying down) to get closer to the treat, I clicked and gave her the treat. I kept moving my hand around to encourage her feet to move during the first training session.

We did this for a few minutes and then stopped.

A few hours later we tried again. I’ve been wondering how clicker savvy she is, as she’s very calm and subtle in her movements sometimes. We did the same thing.. I’d move my hand, she’d move her foot (either one, didn’t matter) and click treat.

Then I stopped moving my hand to see if she was getting it. First couple of times she just stared at my hand for a good minute, I swear. So I moved my hand again. But she was thinking about it. So I laid my hand still again, with treats in it, and she moved her foot! Click Treat! After a couple of those, she started putting her foot on my hand! Yay!

She is officially clicker savvy! I’m excited. She doesn’t offer much behavior to me.. not like Levi does, who throws himself all over the place to see what I want. But she’s a girl, she’s more posed than my goofy boys. And she’s still a bit shy when we work alone together. But to see her think and figure things out is great. I’m excited. I need to just learn to understand how she learns, and how she offers behavior, and how to shape her so we find out what we want.

And then put the behavior on cue, Only on cue, and Always on cue! Then I’ll be happy with my own training!

Oh.. so the next step is to get her to put both feet on the target, then put the target on the flyball box, and then get her up with all four feet. But that’s a while away so far. It’s gonna be great to have a flyball collie!

I just watched the AKC Invitationals… I would love to see Tatum there. Would love too! Sometimes I have too many toys hooked up to the HDTV and I need HDMI splitters too watch all I want. I want an HD DVD or a Blueray DVD… someday!

Drawbacks:
Now I have to also consider the consequences of doing this. At first, I was letting her nibble on my hand to get the treats. But she has such a soft mouth now I don’t want to reward her for being bitey when taking treats so I stopped that.

In addition I need to consider the white target. I use it for other things too, and usually it’s just a target to do a nose touch with and to get treats from. If I teach her to put two paws on it, she has the potential to do that all the time in all training environments.

So maybe I need to use something else.. when we reach that point. Maybe I need to make a special flyball target so I can still use the white lid for obedience targets and agility targets. Hrm… something to think about.