Friday, January 23, 2009

Update on Phd School, & Advice for ball dropping in flyball

For those of you that don't know about Bens educational plans, he recently finished applying to two doctorate programs in Wildlife Biology. One is at the University of Washington. The other is the University of Massachusetts, near where I live now. Both programs have benefits and issues that cause us stress.

Waiting to find out if he got in, is killing us (mainly me). We got some good (sort of) news recently. His proposed advisor at UW told him that he marked his application for acceptance. Sounds good right? Well there might not be enough money to fund Bens research and his acceptance is contingent on the money. He also heard from his proposed advisor at UMass. He made it to the top 19 candidates! We dont know how many of those will be accepted. It is nice to have some more information, but overall our future is still very uncertain.


Indigo has a lot of flyball tournaments quickly approaching. We are going to be very busy and I will have a very happy dog. If all goes according to plan Indy will be running with the same three dogs regularly.

Here is our schedule:

Jan 31st Manchester NH
Feb 14-15th Fitchburg MA
Feb 28th Manchester NH
March 21st-22nd Gettysburg PA
May 9th -10th Greenfield MA

The only training issue I have had with her has been her ball dropping issue, she does everything else exactly the way I want. She has been known to drop her ball right before the line. To deal with this problem I had always been told to hide the tug because as soon as she sees the tug, she gets too excited and drops her ball immediately.

For anyone that knows border collies or any other highly intelligent breed, it makes sense that she actually does know that the tug is there even when its hidden. Hiding the tug may have some effect to reduce excitement, but it does not trick them into thinking its not there.

I have used a couple of training techniques that have been successful that have led to definite improvements. One of them I learned from Spring Loaded flyball team in Michigan. Here is how it works: I ask her to pick up her ball and then begin running and of course she follows. While Im running I have the tug visible. If she sees the tug and drops the ball I stop running and the game is over until she picks up the ball again. She learns quickly that she can't drop the ball and grab the tug until I yell "tug!".

The other thing I do at home is throw the ball, restrain her, send her to get the ball, and then when she's on her way back Im holding the tug in her full view but up in the air so she cant reach it. When she has passed the point that I want and still holding the ball, I bring the tug down to her level and give her a big reward. I will post videos on my you tube page.

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