Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Different feet placement in all shots - but only in the last two, did she get her 3 strides in.

Striding from the Box

Pita - doing two strides with no props, we switched to props, she did three. We took out the first prop, and she still did three strides.

Baer - I kept the props in, and after the first run, she did fine. Happy with her, no stutter stepping.

Flash - Well I have my work cut out for me. Pup-pup wants to do 2 strides. I tried moving the fourth jump out to 16 feet, then 17 feet. Still 2 strides. So I stood at the first jump, and had him just walk to me - once he did two 3-strides in a row, I stopped. Always end training on a positive note.

I hear from a decent amount of people that their dogs are too large to get in 3 strides. Honestly, I don't think it's an issue of a dog being "too large", that they "can't" do 3 strides from the box. I've seen larger dogs do 3 strides. I've seen smaller dogs do 2. It just depends on the personality of the dog, if they have perception issues, etc.

It's more an issue of running versus leaping over the fourth jump back. Leaping throws off their striding, leaping slows them down. Running enables them to gain the most momentum.

Running over the fourth jump (the 3rd stride) allows the dog to gain more momentum and speed. That third stride, I believe, sets them up to have the quickest return to the handler.

Anyways, now I need to enforce all 3 dog's striding, and my plan is to incorporate the box in Baer's training at practice from now on. Her turns are wide. Her head is dragging when she grabs the ball, it almost seems as if her back legs kick off before she's had the chance to straighten out her body.So she lands to the side. It's a new problem, because her turns were pretty nice before, but it's alright. Things are slowly coming together.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rotations on the Slant Board

Doing rotation work on the Slant board:

Both dogs don't look too bad. I took it easy on them since we have flyball practice with the team tonight.

I bought a new book, waiting for it to arrive. It's titled "Cross training for the canine athlete" and I can not WAIT to get it. I think it'll have a lot of new ideas for me on conditioning & building core strength and balance, which will be very nice to work on in the winter time when hiking and walking slacks off for a while.

I'm especially interested in body awareness- anything to make my Lab a little more graceful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Full Speed Grid Work with 3 Strides

With a tournament quickly approaching, I'm beginning to feel the pressure of upping our striding training & making it harder. On top of making full rotations in her box training (doing a swimmer's turn and landing close to the box PLUS landing in a straight line to run back), I'm making her RUN the grid. I've done this before, but she had studder-stepping while running so I took some steps back.

Here's from today:

I'm pretty happy. She did knock a few bars but hey, it's my Labrador. I'm not looking for perfection, I'm looking for comprehension.

I definitely need to get her set up with a box and try a few runs in a full lane with props set up. I need to know where we're at, and it'd be good practice anyhow. But for right now, striding & box turning is our main focus.

Always a fun time with my dog's :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Power Jumping

We've been doing power jumping religiously for about a month now, once a week, every Saturday. I try to do 5-6 jumps. Before, power jumping only happened when I went to Flyball practice with my team. But since that's more on the rare side, and since power jumping is SO important, I've been making a point to do it on my own every week.

The first dog, Pita, and the last dog, Yuna, are friend's dogs I'm training.

Flash's striding looks nice, and Baer's striding is beautiful with NOT leaping before the first jump.

Striding from the Box- After 3 months of re-training.

So with Baer's striding, repetition is still the main thing we're working on right now.

I've been working on adding distraction (other people/dogs around us), stimulation (being in a different room or outside), and speed (me standing still holding the tug, then walking away slowly, then jogging away from her), and resistance/restraint (a handler holding her back).

Once she can handle me jogging away, with a handler holding her, I move on to the next step, slowly weening out props. This is the hard part for her- once the visual is gone, it's difficult for her to rely on muscle memory. Which is expected.

Here's from last night's session:

We've been working on this almost daily, for 3 months. Not a lot of time when you think about it, and she's improved a lot since we started.

Our next Flyball tournament is in less than 3 weeks. We'll see what happens. I won't be upset if the training doesn't take at the tournament, obviously. I just want to get Flash around another tournament setting and I'd like to compete with Baer again. This is a 3 lane tournament and I've never been to such a big tournament. I'm making excuses but hey, I'm not perfect. After this tournament we will continue with our training and see what happens.

Distances Landing from the Box

There's an equation for Baer's re-training in order to achieve 3 strides FROM the box.

1) There must be 3 strides from the box. Easy enough. (Note the sarcasm).

2) Baer must LAND close enough to the box that she can fit in her 3 strides.

With a leaping dog, the box presents a huge problem, especially when high speeds are added in.

She gets to the box in 2 strides (not even touching that yet). Leaping from about 7 feet away, she does a hard, snappy box turn that launches her.

If you figure that there's 15 feet between the box and the first jump, simple math says no, 3 strides will not be possible, no matter how much striding work I do, if she launches far away off the box.

So now, to fix the turn.

In our last tournament (3 months ago), Baer had the widest turns she's ever had. It was strange, and it has not presented itself since that tournament. Go figure. But we've been doing regular slant board training to ensure turns are tight and snappy- now we have to add an element of landing close to the box/board.

In order to do this, I followed a friend's advice to put a piece of tape on the ground 5 feet out from the box. This marker allows me to ensure that her feet around landing more out than they should be.

Here's the video of what we're getting so far.

By the end of this first session, both front feet were landing before the marker.

Then, reviewing my box training with Flash, I saw that he was landing way out. A part of this, I think, was my determination to get him to hit the box with speed- I had to put a prop very far out in order to encourage him to leap over it and accomplish his box turn. So now, he leaps off, landing far from the box.

This is how we were doing box turns/slant board before:

Now, going back to the slant board, I used the marker and this is what we were able to achieve:

Much closer landing than before. I'm going to take a break from the box with Baer and Flash, and probably only use it once a week. The slant board will be our main tool right now to train this. Especially with Baer- she MUST get this muscle memory, or we risk ruining the 3 stride training.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So to address Baer's start line problem, I've been using a prop for her to aim to stride over, putting her feet on the floor right at the point of the start/finish line.

I started with the prop being 5 feet from the start/finish line- realizing she was still taking off way too early, I moved it to 4 feet- then 3 feet. In Baer's last session, at 3 feet, she does a smooth run without any leaping.

Then for Flash, I just focused on introducing the concept of a start/finish line to him. I want all aspects of a tournament setting to be completely familiar to him- that way he is less fazed when it is time for him to start competing. At least, that's the idea. I'd also like to know if he's going to start leaping at the start line too, which he did not do today.

Striding using smaller props.

Baer Striding (+playlist)

Striding work from this week- adding a flyball box to simulate where we'd be landing & running from. Practice and consistency... just keep repeating until we're sick and tired of it, and then repeat some more :D