Flyball Box Turn in Practice

And so for my ongoing quest to get Jet to have a good Flyball Box Turn, with some unconventional training, here are some more videos. 🙂

I took these last weekend at practice. I still like the idea of the bar on the box, or close to the box, for him to get up and get all four feet on the box. However, his rear end behavior still isn’t solid enough without some kind of help for him.

But he’s in a tournament next weekend, so I’ll practice with him as much as possible this week, and then next week, well, we trust in our training. 🙂

Some Box Work:

Jet Racing:

So, now it’s just up to love, luck, and training. 🙂

Innovative Flyball Box Turn Training

On my continuing quest to get Jet a better box turn, I had a new idea. Well, maybe it’s not really that new, since people use props and hovering sticks all the time. But I haven’t seen anyone put a bar directly on the box before. So this is my next attempt to get Jet to catch the ball, and use his rear on the box as well.

I like how this is working so far. I see success with him pushing off with his rear when he’s getting the ball. I think I’m going to stick with this method for a while and see what we get. I did take him to training, and I’ll get that video up too. I’m not convinced this method is holding over to the training place, but maybe if I work it every day, it’ll get stronger.

Unconventional Flyball Box Training

Well my experiment continues. I’m having fun trying different things with Jet’s flyball box. My concern is to get his rear up on the box, and pushing off the box, while the ball is in play. He has a great flyball box turn when there is no ball. But once the ball is in play, he forgets he has a rear and doesn’t use it to push off the box.

The below is a continuation of my idea… this time with a ramp. We did this training on March 11, 2011.

My husband helped me build this ramp and so far, so good. Here’s more training from the following day, March 12, 2011.

The videos are rather self explanatory I think, I’ve put text on them with my thoughts about what I’m doing.

I’ve modified the method a bit and I’ll post that up next. I wish I had some outdoor lighting fixtures so that I could train outdoors. But then, the weather needs to warm up too!

Flyball Box Training

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.

Flyball Box Training Push with the Rear

Flyball Box Training Ramp
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!