Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beginner Flyball Class

I'm teaching my first ever beginner's class for our flyball team. Having been in the sport for such a short time made this a very daunting task for me at first, but 3 weeks in and it is going extremely well. And when i don't know what to say, luckily my teammates do (unfortunately some of them like to talk over me, but i'm letting it go because they've been doing this longer than i have).

Week 1 we did a lot of talking and demonstrating, then we practiced restrained recalls.  The most important part of the lesson being "don't look at your dog, RUN!"  Everyone did very well, and we added one jump before a long run out for the dogs to start learning jump sequences to a reward.

Week 2 we had lost one student due to medical reasons, but gained another.  So our class roster is this:
1. Cocoa, the Havapomesian Squeewok
2. Salli, a Koolie/Coolie
3. Solomon, GSD
4. Layla, Lab X Cattledog mix (like Trophy! only she has very little ticking isolated to her back toes)

But, Cocoa and Salli were the only two at class this week.  We made a lot of progress with Salli who learned to sequence all 4 jumps down and back VERY quickly.  Cocoa struggled with this, but she excelled at turns.  For this class and for homework I had them just teach the dogs to "bounce" over a prop, the goal being to teach them to quickly go and come back over a low jump.  Cocoa did so well the next day her mom asked for some one on one help (since she's a friend of mine) and we started teaching her an actual box turn.

After the class Jbiz and Salli's owner stayed for our practice so we let them run our experienced dogs (Jbiz will probably be running Trophy at an upcoming tournament).

Week 3 we had our full class back.  We again worked on jump sequencing, then we started working on turns on the board. Cocoa is phenomenal   We adjusted the props slightly to make sure she was learning to jump up high enough that she would be in a good position to grab the ball.  We also ordered special squishy balls just for her and sent her home with a few to learn to retrieve them and play with them.  Solomon struggled a bit with his long body to understand what we wanted, but he got it in the end.  Layla did very well, and Salli also caught on very quickly.  Then we worked on some jump sequencing again, and ended on some restrained recalls with out jumps to end on a happy note.

Since Cocoa's mom stays for our whole practice, at the end we gated the 4 jumps and worked on motivating her through all four jumps since the distance between the jumps is going to be her biggest difficulty being as she's so small.

During our practice, again Jbiz and Salli's owner stayed so we gave them more practice with running experienced dogs.

Week 4 is this up coming weekend.  We aren't having a full practice, just the class.  But I'm pretty excited to see what these guys do.

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