I am going to try posting weekly on Teal's progress with flyball training.
Today we had a "green dog" practice with the puppies and new dogs, perfect for Teal. It was Teals first practice here in Massachusetts. Ben has been frustrated because Teal is extremely focused on other dogs and getting her attention is difficult during practice. Today I was reminded of this right away when I took her out for recalls to the tug, she ran right past me, around the baby gates and into the other lane to the other dogs. She is obviously not ready to tug in public, especially when other dogs are running at the same time.
I tried to work with her along the sides of the lanes and rewarded her with treats when she focused on me. The point of this is to break her cycle of obsessing over the running dogs. Anytime she started obsessing and would not pay attention at all, I removed her from the situation (put her in her crate or outside).
I was feeling pretty frustrated with her, and it does not help that I keep comparing her to Indy, who picked up the game almost instantly. And then Sue (Canine Mutiny Captain) came to the rescue. She is an excellent trainer. She gave me a bag of cooked hamburger meat and a clicker. We put Teal on a long lead and after letting her smell the meat, Sue restrained her, I ran away and she came right to me! From there I ran back toward Sue and Teal followed. This was happening while other dogs were racing in the other lane.....a first for Teal!
After realizing that hamburger works, we did some work on the shoot. Sue showed me how to snap her off. There was an exciting moment when she looked over at the other lane, thought about herding other dogs, and then decided she would prefer to work for meat.
It was a good day for Teal. We have one week in between the next two tournaments, so hopefully we will have another "green" dog practice. I would love to have her running over puppy jumps and using the box by the time I turn her back over to Ben in July, but that might be a long shot. Either way, I am making a commitment to stop comparing her to Indy and let her progress at her own pace.