Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hello, Walls!


In our last episode, little Dancer felt that the angled training board was meant to be climbed ("Scale that wall to get the ball," I heard her chirp), vs. bounced off.  I had intended to do wall work with her anyway, but with this development, I felt it could really be helpful.

Wall work in flyball is where you teach the dog to bank off a very nearly vertical surface.  A nice explanation of how to do this can be found, among other places, on my friend Crystal's blog (see Method 3...Crystal also catalogues several other common box turn training methods.  An interesting side note--I think by the time I'm done with Miss Dancer Prancer, I'll have employed bits and pieces from all of them!)

I lined a 2' x 4' piece of 3/4" plywood with some matting, measured where to put the tape line for her, and leaned it up against the house (with my old agility a-frame folded up behind it.)  I armed myself with a clicker and some of Dancer's favorite dog-log treats, and off we went.

Because Keeshonds are a naturally bouncy breed (the saying goes they make good apartment dogs because they exercise vertically), I figured that Dancer would pick up on the wall work pretty easily.  Just how easily was a surprise--within 60 seconds, here were our results:

Most instructions for wall work tell you to use a touch stick (not your hand).  But I was having trouble getting Dancer to go after the touch stick with enough drive to translate into eventually bouncing off a wall, so I opted to just use my hand with a treat, and lure her through it instead.  (I know, some of you are out there crying, "Sacrilege!"  But I'm not listening to you.  Yes, if she would go after the touch stick, I could probably have her whipping off the wall faster...but you see, if I had to wait for her to transfer her enthusiasm for the treat to the touch stick, and only then begin wall work, I would not do any wall work because that's just how I am.  So I figure this wall work is better than no wall work.  Them's the choices!)

Okay, she's bouncing off walls now.  That's!  Perhaps there's a drawback in this process.  :)

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