Last night I was able to go home and work Jet on my new ideas of flyball box training. The more I think about it, the more I think that this method that I’ve come up with is not really anything new. Instead it’s basically just using a really high prop so that the dog is forced to bring his whole body over the prop, onto the box to get the ball, and back over the prop again, using his rear to push off in both directions (especially pushing off the box).
I started just with an agility jump, because that’s all I have at home right now. I can pick up my home made prop from practice next Sunday. But I kinda like the agility jump because I can set the bar as high as I like. I didn’t like that the bar was dropping, so I think next time I’ll tape the bar onto the stanchion with some duct tape or something to get it to temporarily stay in place.
As you’ll see in the video, I put the ball on the other side of the jump, rather close to the jump. The first couple of times Jet had to figure out that the ball (one of his favorite toys) was close to the jump. After a couple of times it seemed like his rear was too far away from the jump, so I put a chair behind it so he’d have to coordinate himself to land square and avoid the chair.
He did go around the jump to come back to me a couple of times, so I put up another barrier so he had to jump over, get the ball, and jump back to bring it back to me.
After a bit I introduced the clicker, and tried to reward using the click/ball. But he was really looking for a treat once he heard the click. So I also brought treats, but then he kinda lost his head for a bit until we worked out that he had to jump, get the ball, jump back, and then he’d get a click and a treat.
I’m not certain I’m going to keep using the clicker. I wanted to mark his correct behavior, but playing with the ball may really just be enough. The clicker might be too much for him to think about the jump, but we’ll see how it goes.
All in all I was pretty pleased with the progress he made. From our seminar with Touch N Go that I went to back in, oh, 2008, they really emphasized that, for dogs having a hard time with the box and getting all four feet on, to build a really tall prop, even tower-like, if necessary. I’m thinking that this jump style is really similar. But instead of getting the prop in front of the box, I’m just using a dead-retrieve ball on the other side of the jump. He still has to pull his entire body over the jump, get the ball, then pull his body back over the jump to get back to me. What I will probably do is build the ramp I want to build (see prior post) and also use this high jump/prop method to get him to pull all his feet over and back on the box. And still include the ball, because it’s when the ball is introduced that his box turn disintegrates.
So this is the theory, anyway. 🙂 I’ll keep taking videos and posting about how it works. I am thinking about it a lot, and I think it’s going to work well, but you never know what a dog will pull out of his doggie-hat and do to make things more complicated. So I’m keeping my eyes and mind open for variations if needed!
I’ve tagged this post, and will tag the others, with the “Flyball Box Training” tag if you want to follow along easily.