I haven't had time to post about my training adventures in a few days, but I did manage to video them and post them to youtube. We've done some fun stuff, and since I can't remember all of it, I have been reviewing the tapes so I can post what I remember from the sessions.
On Friday, I was able to take Peepers and Sparky out to the barn. Peepers is working on flying around a pole, and Sparky is getting used to being out in the barn. The basic flow of the session is that I work with Peepers while Sparky hangs out on my shoulder. When Peepers needs a short break, I would take Sparky to one of the perches and give her a big almond. She would hang out on the perch and I would go back to Peepers and do little tricks while he caught his breath. When she was done, I would take her off the perch and go back to working on the whole pole thing with Peepers.
There isn't a ton in the first video. It takes a few minutes for Peepers to get into the swing of things, but even during that time, he was interested in the idea of training, he just needed to get into the swing of things. He did some nice reps of flying around the pole. One thing I think I need to note on this is that when Peepers is unsure of something, he tends to not want to take off from the perch he is on. He is much more confident flying from my hand. So, when he shows interest, but is hesitant, I ask him to step up and then cue "go" from there. I don't launch him in this situation, I keep my hand steady and let him make the choice to go. I don't know why this makes a difference for him, but since it does, I use it to break the ice, so to speak. You'll see it in the middle of this video - Peepers gets a little hesitant to leave the taller perch, so I ask him to step up and then send from there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yScB2-D6IM0
In the second half of the session, I moved the pole and perches around a bit. There is also a spot at about 0:54, where I cue Peepers to go, and he goes, but flies on my side of the pole. This was an incorrect behavior, but I had clicked in anticipation of him going around correctly (my bad!), so I gave him a pine nut, but then picked him right back up and put him back on the lower perch and asked for the correct behavior. I believe that if I click, the animal should get the reinforcer. If I hadn't clicked, I would have just simply picked Peepers up and put him back on the lower perch and asked again. This was the only thing in this half that seemed noteworthy to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYJTkcSXuwI&NR=1
The battery was running out, so I planned on ending the session, and turned off the camera. We hung out in the barn for a while more, while Peepers explored the bars more than he ever has before. Sparky of course hung out on my shoulder and watched :). I did notice that this session was pretty hard on Peepers physically - he was very hot and tired by the end of it.
On Sunday, I took Bungee and Dempsey to another team's flyball practice. I've known some of these members for 10 years or so from seeing them around flyball and agility, so I knew that we should get along pretty well. Dempsey did really well, we did recalls from the box with a dog in the other lane, and he was very solid about it, just looked down his own lane and ran his heart out. The only time he slowed down a little was when I was out of breath and didn't call him or speak at all (note to self - get in shape!!). He also did box work, which this team does a little differently. I have been shaping the turn, and had progressed to getting 4 feet on the box (inconsistently). Pam suggested that I start to use a jump before the box, so we introduced that to Dempsey. Kyle taped it for me, so I am able to share; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W3rc6gyXCw&feature=channel and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONJlOQYsDwc&NR=1. You can see at about the 5 minute marker in the second video where Dempsey is jumping the jump against the box and he hits the box with his left rear foot. Pam immediately moved the jump to help make Dempsey's job more clear - all 4 feet over the jump without touching it. Within one or two reps, the jump was back against the box and Dempsey did a wonderful turn. I learned a bunch, some of which I had forgotten. 1.) Get in Shape!!! 2.) Motivation is key, and your energy level will be reflected in the dog 3.) Sometimes you gotta talk (or in this sport, holler) at your dog 4.) get in shape!!!
I think I know where we're going with the box turn, so I plan on working on getting Dempsey to offer to go over a short agility jump while I am futher back from it this week. We also don't want him to touch the bar, so I will be careful to reinforce when he doesn't knock the bar. I am also planning to build another faux-box to work on this skill with a slanted surface behind it. Hopefully by next week we will be able to show some real progress on this.