Future Plans

7 08 2008

Its hard to believe that under a year ago I was loosely thinking around ways to get Riley to fetch a ball. Or, rather, if i really wanted to take the journey at all, since we hadn’t felt sucess in the past. And suddenly, (well, maybe not so), we’ve moved on to bigger and other goals: getting Riley to run confidently on a team.

There has been several steps in the attempt to have Riley feel Flyball sucess:

  • Step 1: Retrieve a Ball (Done)
  • Step 2: Perform a quick, 4 footed box turn with a Catch (Done)
  • Step 3: Complete full runs with 4 jumps and the Box reliably (Done)

There has been a huge change in the better in Riley’s confidence, happiness, and overall mental state in Flyball. When being restrained for a recall, she’s pulling against the restainer and making little lunges forward. Her face is relaxed, calm, happy and eager. Her tail, a huge indicator of her mood, which cirles over her back when she’s feeling prime, is up and dancing in a happy wave.  She leaps towards the lane as soon as she’s released, and she has a impression of happiness and joy stamped on her face.

I never really cared weather Riley was fast or not. When she first started full runs, she would sometimes single stride on the way to the box, probably double striding the last jump. Her return was always strong and was fastest. Since we’ve been working at practice, she’s really sped up. She hasn’t been timed, and she’s no where near fast as Jet, but she’s ever improving.

The last thing is to teach Riley passing. It seems fitting that she starts off as an Anchor, or the last dog to run on the team. She has issues to work on when passing in on another dog. Riley does not like confrontation. She wants to go down the lane, but is un-nerved, and at the same time excited, by another dog running towards her in the run back. So, on releasing her, she will run to the lane and make a little lunge and growl at the returning dog before heading down the lane. She wont chase, or even alter her route to the lane, but she’s uncomfortable at a dog running so close into her personal ‘bubble’. She does want the lane, though, so she portrays a strong front to the other dog. A message of ” I need to go this way, but i dont feel right about you, so just keep your distance!”  I have no doubt in my mind that if another dog reacted to the rude behavior by putting Riley in her place, she would back down instantly.

We are working on shaping up to a pass by having a bit of green fencing staked in the middle of the runback, so that when i release Riley, she has a little barrier to keep her on track to the box. I’ve started saying “Go! Go! Go!” on release, and it keeps her on track alot better.

Upon getting over this passing hurdle, which has nothing on the other hurdles we’ve jumped, i plan on Riley developing into a reliable Flyball dog that has the joy to play the game with me.






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