Recently Lisa, a woman who has one of Wixer’s half brothers named Punk started an awesome blog called Flyball Prop-a-ganda.  In a post based on a comment I made (awesome!) she talked about asking for advice from other people so I’m thinking about posting what I’m doing with him here.  Hopefully, there will be pictures and video and good descriptions of what I’m working on. Who knows, maybe someone will have advice for me here, and if not I will have a record to take with me when I find someone to ask.

Right now I’m mainly working on foundation stuff, both flyball related and regular manners.  I do have to remember he is only 4 months old and compared to 90% of the other dogs out there he is very well behaved and whip smart.  He does blow the other dogs in intermediate obedience away and they are all way older (yeah, I think he’s pretty awesome, how could you tell?).  But I have pretty high expectations and he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill being Bleys’ sibling.  Roland is pretty good and reminding me when I’m being a little too over the top and seeing the other dogs in obedience is also a good reminder.  Anyway, for obedience we’re working on the usual; sit, down, stay, stand, loose leash walking, heel, wait, swing, find heel, circle, spin, paw, off.  For flyball we do restrained recalls, recalls with a dog running a full lane next door (thanks Slammers and Lisa), race to the tug – although I can only win that one if someone else holds him and gives me a good head start!  We did some chase recalls a while ago, but I need to remember to do them more regularly at practice.  I haven’t had him do any jumps or do anything with the box.  Quite a few other Florida flyballs have puppies of around the same age as Wixer and some of them post updates about how their puppies already run the full pattern including taking the ball from the box.  I’m not quite sure what to think about that.  I do feel like he’s maybe getting closer to being ready for some jumps, but not yet and not regularly.

Today we practiced a few dead ball retrieves in the back yard.  I try not to do too much with the ball yet so that the tug will continue to be the end all and be all of Wixer’s world (a fellow flyballer at the tournament this past weekend told me how his puppy of about the same age decided he didn’t like to tug anymore – yikes!).  But I don’t want to wait too long to introduce the ball so that he doesn’t not like the ball or become a spitter.  Fine line there, wot?  I’m also trying to keep an eye on which way he likes to turn, but I often forget to actually pay attention.  I *think* he prefers the left at this point, but still need to watch (or have someone else watch) some more.  He did pretty well and I think generally has the idea of going to get the ball and bringing it back to receive a seriously awesome session of tug.  We usually spend a good 2-3 minutes of tug for each retrieve so hopefully that puts the emphasis on the tug and not the ball.  That amount of time on the tug also means that we don’t end up doing very many actual retrieves which is part of the plan (hmmm…that makes it sound like I have an actual plan and everything).  I do need to make a new tug soon though.  I was using a simple/soft three strand braided one while he was short on so many teeth, but I think he needs something a little more sturdy now, so I’m going to make a four strand one to replace it.

Things I need to fix:

  • I need to remember to keep the tug much lower.  Isn’t it always the way that the thing you need to fix in dog training isn’t with the dog, but with the handler.

Things I would really like to know:

  • How do you find a flyball seminar to attend?  I would even travel a ways to get to one, but I haven’t the foggiest how you find out if/when/where they are actually happening?
  • How do you know when you should introduce jumps?

Things I’m internally freaking out about:

  • How do I get started on the target stick in preparation for wall work.  Man, do I not want to screw this up.