clicker training for flyball

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by Joy, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    At our first flyball session on Tuesday, Molly wouldn't pick up a ball at all, so today I started clicker training it. Clicked for touching ball twice, then she picked it up, clicked and repeated. Within 15 treats she was fetching it from a few yards away and handing it to me - I was walking away to put it down, not throwing it for her to chase. Tomorrow I'll try at the rec with more distractions.
    I need to rope in someone to help me put the ball down too, as at the moment it's a very sedate sit and stay while I place the ball and return to her, followed by an amble to get it - not very flyball yet. ;)
     
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    I don't know anything about flyball....but a fair bit about clicker training and fetching tennis balls. :) It's early days, you can build up her desire for the ball and the game. Getting the behaviour and rewarding it is a great first step.
     
  3. heidrun

    heidrun Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    Wouldn't it be better to get her really keen to chase after the ball rather than starting with a sit/stay and a placed ball? I also know nothing about flyball just watched a few runs this year at Crufts. What really struck me was the level of excitement the dogs were in, all the time Philppa Williams's Gundog display was going on you could hear the flyball dogs barking in the wings waiting for their turn. Once they were in the arena their handlers were revving them up even more. As a gundog person I watched with a slight feeling of horror. :eek: ;D. Steadiness really didn't come into it. The handlers were hanging on to their dogs until it was their run and then released them. What did they suggest at the training class to get started?
     
  4. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    You want a stationary ball for Flyball. The dogs are not allowed to chase balls in the ring (throwing a ball will get you carded). Placing the ball on the ground is exactly the right approach. The dog needs to expect no movement from the ball.

    I would not be in a hurry to work on extending the distance from the point at which you release your dog and where the ball is. That is really not important in my experience.

    I would take your pick of focusing on one of the two following options:

    Option 1) Getting an enthusiastic return to you, with the ball, after picking up the ball. Think about what you are going to have on you to motivate your dog to come back. Most people use food or a tug toy. If you use a tug toy you want to build enthusiasm for that toy, NOT the ball. The thing you are holding has to trump the ball. The ball is the means to the end of getting back to the handler for a big game. The game has to be contingent on bringing the ball back. One approach is also to turn and run as soon as she grabs the ball - that can be exciting for the dog.

    Option 2) Work on her turn when picking up the ball. Flyball is not just a retrieve - it's a retrieve with a very sharp turn. You want to shape a really tight U turn when she gets that ball, which will eventually become a swimmers' turn on the Flyball box. There are various approaches to teaching this and your club will probably have a preferred approach. The favoured approach at our club is to have a small jump (ie a Flyball jump) about half a metre in front of the ball. The dog goes over the jump, grabs the ball, then returns over the jump. This helps to shape a tight turn. But you can talk to your club about the method they use.

    The dog doesn't need to be that enthusiastic for the ball. They have to be enthusiastic for whatever they get when they bring the ball back to the handler. A dog that just wants the ball will run fast to the ball and then take their time to gone back to the handler. Flyball is all about the recall, not the ball.

    Flyball dogs might not look steady to the casual observer but, really, they are solid as a rock. They are just excited. They can do a retrieve over 8 jumps, flat out, with a minimum of 7 other dogs in the ring, all equally excited, without actually giving a care about anything other then doing their run and returning to their handler. To achieve that you need a very high level of control and a dog that can stay focused despite being hugely excited.
     
  5. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    Also, great work with the ball and clicker :D
     
  6. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    I'm quite interested in the excitement levels in flyball and agility, because I have looked round at other areas to help me with Charlie's excitement levels.

    It certainly is the case that dogs seem to be able to have their excitement thresholds blown by these activities - but that doesn't make for a good performance. The books and articles on achieving excellent performance in these sports, yet keeping a dog below a sensible threshold are very good, I think. Some of the techniques are hugely applicable to gundog work, and have been very useful to me. Control Unleashed is the best book I've found in helping with Charlie's excitement around retrieving (in addition to managing arousal levels in Clicker Gundog - but that was a bit more complicated, and I'm only just getting to grips with it now) and it's been a great help - the book is about agility dogs.
     
  7. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    Thanks for the tips, Rachel & yes I was told the ball must be stationary - at the club I'm going to a person puts the ball on the floor for the beginners, rather than using the machine to start with.

    Today I remembered to take a tennis ball when we went out, but forgot the clicker! Tried to do it by saying 'yes' when Molly touched the ball but couldn't get her interested. It's very strange as I had dummies with me & she retrieved them (with me walking away and placing them) perfectly. Odd dog! The clicker does seem to have some strange power as last summer I had to clicker train retrieving dummies (to stop her running off with them) which she got the hang of very quickly.

    I have several tug toys which Molly loves, so I'll start rewarding with a click, treat and tug game & see if that raises her enthusiasm.

    As regards control / steadiness - although it's incredibly noisy with barking, the dogs who are trained are very focused. We were in an indoor riding school and it was only the beginners who were racing off on a lap of honour after getting the ball; the others were up, back & straight to owner.
     
  8. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    We've now practised with ball and clicker at the recreation ground for a couple of days and Molly is fetching the ball and handing it to me every time. Still a trot rather than a gallop but progress. Fingers crossed she'll do it tomorrow evening at the club.
     
  9. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Re: clicker training for flyball

    That's fantastic! Great job!! :D

    She'll pick up the speed in time, once she works out what Flyball is all about :)
     

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