A Sort of flyball
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A Sort of Flyball

Jamie loves the flyball game.  I call it a sort of flyball because he goes over several jumps to fetch a toy and then jumps back again.  He'd love to do real flyball but I doubt if he'd be capable of running against a dog in another team without wanting to run off and play.  In the agility ring this game would help if I had to call him over jumps.  Of course it also helps to get him going over a line of jumps ahead of me.  It's useful in agility if you can't run as fast as your dog.

 

To start with I taught Jamie to go over one jump.  I threw the toy over it and encouraged him to fetch it back.  When he'd got the idea of that I asked him to sit and wait while I placed the toy on the other side of the jump.    Being a retriever cross he's very keen to fetch anything.

Coming back over one jump

 

Before long we were able to build up to two jumps. As you can see I've kept them low and they're only spaced the flyball distance apart which is ten feet.
(The Kennel Club Specific Flyball Regulations can be found here)
 Once we'd done two jumps we built up to three and finally we were able to do four in a line.

Coming back over two jumps

 

Away over four jumps ..and back over four jumps

Away over four jumps

..and back again
 

 

It looks easy when you see it like this but it does take time and patience to show a dog how to play this game.  It helps if the dog can learn to wait while while you place the toy.  It's possible that this might help with waits on the start line at a show but I've never had the courage to try that one.  I've made a little video if you'd like to see it.  The husband was busy watching rugby at the time so I set the camcorder up on a tripod.  If you try this at home don't do what I did the first time.  Make sure the camcorder's level or you'll get a lovely skew wiff movie clip. 

Thanks to John from the Hillam Hotdogs Flyball Team for putting me right on the distance between hurdles.

Update:
I've been having a lot of trouble teaching Sasha to go on.  She gets excited and spins and barks if I get too far behind.  "Come on Mum, catch up."  Everyone says I have to throw a toy over the last jump and I've had so much advice it's coming out of my ears.  I've decided it's time to do my own thing and teach Sasha the flyball trick.  She's only had one lesson and she's picked it up really quickly. 

Once she's learned this thoroughly we'll make it more difficult by returning over different jumps.  We can even include a tunnel in the sequence or a weave.  One thing that a lot of dogs do is to go into a straight tunnel and turn towards the handler at the exit.  You can't blame them, unless you're right up there with them a young or inexperienced dog doesn't always have the confidence to keep going.  This kind of exercise will help to build confidence by teaching a dog to work away. 

Update: 25th July 2011
One way to get Sasha to go on to the last jump instead of spinning and barking is to use what I call "flying."
I put three jumps up at a very low height and work them in a random order until I decide to stop.  By doing this a dog doesn't know which is the last jump and will learn to keep going until you say stop. 

Looking at this page again doesn't Jamie have a fantastic wait!  Sasha will wait but it's so nerve wracking it's easier not.

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