Flyball Homework

Rio’s hits on the box are looking good and she’s ready to move on to turning with a ball in the box (untriggered). Unfortunately she can’t seem to get put the turn and the ball retrieve together. Box = Turn, in Rio’s mind!

I seem to have taken a mildly ball obsessed Rio and turned her into a dog who has a total lack of interest in the ball. Not quite what I was aiming for. We’ve worked back up and she’ll retrieve on the flat now, but she wouldn’t retrieve from the box during our recent sessions.

Our homework is to try and combine the two. At training, she would show some small interest in the ball – correct head placement to snatch, but not actually getting the ball, nose touching, occasionally displacing the ball. Increased interaction with the ball = decreased chance of turn. She can’t concentrate on two things at once!

We’ve done two homework sessions and she’s now turning AND retrieving maybe 50% of the time, and of that, maybe a third of her turns are actually good. This is partly because I took her a stride further away from the box, to encourage her to retrieve the ball, and so I’m not positioned where I should be next to the box. This will be easier to work on when the team is present!

I’m so happy with how she’s going. This is the first “setback” we’ve had, and it isn’t so much a setback as a slightly slower process. It’s also the part that Kelly and Aaron said would be the most difficult! It’s also been fantastic to see Rave do his first full runs this week, very inspiring. Hopefully if we can get this bit sorted, then we can look at progressing to full runs before Christmas.

North of the Wall

K and I headed up north on Friday to train with Cat. We’ve been talking about venturing up to do a little flyball training for ages, so we did!


I took Dylan and Rio, although Ri was an afterthought. She got to play a little bit of agility but I didn’t expect a lot, and I didn’t get it! She’s never trained outdoors, hasn’t trained for nearly 7 weeks, and being with all her favourite dogs as well pretty much blew her mind. She couldn’t focus for longer than 30s and was just overloaded with information. She did do some nice work and it was fun to run her again, if nothing else! Plus Cat took some beautiful photos of her, bald as she is right now. (I can’t tell you how much I love this dog, seriously).

Dylan was there to give me something to do, but as it happened, we made FatBoy work for his supper. K decided that the time was ripe to start tackling Dylan’s striding issues in flyball; he has always had a tendency to take off too early for the first hurdle, and so although he does take three strides from box to hurdle, it’s not pretty or efficient. We put a stride regulator in and stripped him right back to two strides into one hurdle, and rewarding for hitting his take off point. His poor little brain was working overtime; he found it really hard work! Maybe in time he’ll actually get the hang of it.

Rio also started flyball training again. She’s working her target really well, but we have to do some more work on ball swaps. Rio’s ball swaps are great when she’s alone, but if she’s in an environment where either she’s reaching adrenalin threshold or she’s surrounded by other dogs, she struggles. She has a tendency to want something in her mouth when she’s really excited anyway, and it becomes hard for her to spit in that situation. I suspect it’s also a little bit of resource guarding in the case of the other dogs; she’s reluctant to let go of something that the other dogs regard as valuable.

I have work to do!

Training Daze

Rio & Dylan I am feeling very productive this week (with regards to dog training. Other things, not so much).

Dylan did some light work at agility last Tuesday, but I was conscious that he might be carrying an injury, so we didn’t do too much. Enough to test the waters and see what might be bothering him. He worked fine, enthusiastic and chirpy, just a little uncomfortable on the flat. His jumping form was nice, contacts so-so. He doesn’t seem to like our seesaw at training, which is a little bit weird. He actually has a better (ie. more confident, faster) seesaw performance in competition at the moment.

He did a little boxwork at flyball; we have a new flat-fronted box which I love, but it does trigger faster than our old boomerang. So far, Dylan’s turn has looked better and he’s snapping around faster, but the real test will be at Drax in a few weeks when he runs in competition with no props.

He had a chiro adjustment and massage after training, and he was soooo sore in his shoulders, particularly the left one. This is what I’d suspected and it wasn’t a major fix, but it does explain why he was popping the weaves at Lune. He was popping consistently at the fourth pole, which is the second step onto his left shoulder. Another Rio-related injury, but a new one! She’s a lot faster than him and when they’re out racing, she’ll run in front and spin to bark in his face, so he slams on and is obviously jarring his shoulders. That upright build doesn’t help!

Rio & Dylan

Rio and I did a little contact board work at agility training, first time in a high-excitement atmosphere. I didn’t expect any problems and didn’t get any. She loves to work, and she had no problems with the transition from home to arena. I do need to shape her looking forward a little more, she’s currently just offering the 2o2o from wherever she happens to be on the board. She worked the rest of the exercises like a pro, she’s such a superstar. It’s a weird sort of pressure, I think she has a lot of potential, a lot more than my other dogs, and I want to make sure I can reach that!

She was also awesome at obedience, I’m excited about where we’re going with this. I discussed the possibilities for Rally and “proper” Obedience in the future with our trainer, and it was both enlightening and positive. Again, with the potential!

Finally, she did some recalls at flyball and is looking super smooth. The intention is to build a chute this weekend and start her box training, finally. Although I do say this every week, and so far … nothing. A lot more incentive now we have the new box however.

Rave - 5months

We got to play with Rave a little as well, who is 5months now and the fluff is dropping away, replaced by legs. He is such a nice puppy, I like him a lot. He loves Katie and is going to be very good for her, I think!

Sutton Fields Sept 2012

I love this tournament; my dogs and my team always seem to run well at Sutton Fields, and it’s always been my milestone tournament as well. Kim got her first sub-20 time in 2006, retired 2011, Dylan did his first Open 2008, Mollie retired 2012. Dylan got back to sub-20, 2012.

Kim ran in Starters on Saturday, our super-starter team of Snoop, Mylo, Kim, and Diva. We ran these four together at Larden Green and they are such a good little team, we came 1st again. Kim is obviously the experienced one on the team, but the others are true baby dogs; capable of running up and down, but still learning changeovers and occasionally making some silly inexperienced mistakes. It’s a proper Starter team, and these dogs will be ready for Open next season.

Sutton Fields: Mollie

Mollie’s team ran on Sunday and came 3rd, with a BreakOut time of 22.10 – this team won’t run together again so it’s sort of irrelevant. Mollie and Bailey are both officially retired now; they have both been superstars, rolling on with their own unique takes on flyball, but consistent team members to the end. Retiring Mollie does make me sad, she is still raring to go and loves flyball, but at her age and with her fading eyesight, it’s just too much to let her run these days.

Dylan was back running over 9″, the same team as we had at Larden Green. All the dogs were on top form, it was so nice to be running in a seriously competitive team. We were seeded on 20.12 so knew the sub-20s was within easy reach. Dylan clocked some easy 4.6s times, Roxy was consistently producing 4.6-4.7, height dog Ronnie was getting down to 4.9, and even Chip got his act together at the end of the summer and went down to 4.6 at times. We eventually got our 19.85 at the end of the day, with Chip, Dyl, Ronnie, Roxy. I also feel a little bit smug for not getting a single light all day, even when we got dropped into lead dog; 4x rolling starts, I win!

I can’t wait to get the new box and start training for next season; I suddenly feel like 4.5s is within Dylan’s capabilities, and that has never really been a prospect before. I’m pretty excited for next season, but I’m also a little anxious as I’m still not sure if I want to continue flyball after this year. We require some changes within the team to really reach next year’s potential, and considering those are changes of attitude and control, I’m not sure it will happen.


Monsters Fun Day

Our flyballing friends at Monsters Flyball held a fun day over in York at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming. Katie and I thought it would be good socialisation for Rio and Rave, and Katie brought Jetly Awesomeface along as well, to set a good example for the babies.

I’m proud to say the puppies rolled in and took over. Rio was so excited to be somewhere, she was hurling herself at people with no manners whatsoever. Oops! She did settle down after 20mins or so, and reverted to politely greeting people after that, thankfully. Her only freakout was a mild one, over some parents carrying toddlers. She’s happy with adults, happy with prams, happy with toddlers, but people carrying other people is too weird for her.

Rave just took the whole thing in his stride, he’s such a crazy puppy but he’s also pretty easy going, and just rolls with whatever comes his way. They both met goats, chickens, pigs, and a Shetland pony. Rave couldn’t care less, Rio was initially suspicious and then decided all animals looked like lots of fun and either wanted to eat them or herd them … probably eat them, knowing Ri. She playbowed to the Shetland, who didn’t respond (strangely), so he got ignored.

I entered Rio in the fun dog show to see how she’d get on, and she won Prettiest Bitch, and then at the end also won Best In Show. Maybe she does have show dog genes after all (her mum Rita has just won her 3rd CC, making her up to a Show Champion, and her sister KitKat has had multiple BPIB this year). She had a blast, and loved all the treats and attention.

I still don’t know whether I was more excited about her winning the fun dog show, or that she actually did some agility! There was a small Have-a-Go agility course set up, and the Monsters kindly let me drop all the jumps down to Mini and have a play with Rio. We did a little wing wrap work, some sends over a curve of jumps, and then finished with a full sequence of 4 jumps to a tunnel. So proud of her for being totally unphased by the different equipment, environment, and just being willing to work. She’s also never worked over jumps when they’ve all had height, up until now we’ve just had bumps in between wings. She made the choice to skip out on some jumps sometimes, but that’s usual baby dog stuff.

Very successful day!

Puppy Hello

Rio & Rave

Rio met Rave after training this week. She was very appropriate and gentle, which is a little weird to see in Ri! She wasn’t 100% convinced he was a real dog, mainly because he’s not allowed to run wild and free just yet.

Puppy socialisation is something I wanted her to do – that’s socialisation with puppies younger than she is! – but it depends quite a lot on other people getting puppies, so it’s not always possible. Katie has timed it just right. We’re also puppy sitting Alfie for the next two weeks; Alfie is seven months, so it will be interesting to see how he and Rio get along on a day-to-day basis.

Rio & Rave