Let’s play ball! Fall activities coming up…

Beginning later this fall we will periodically be offering NATE play days and WAG IT GAMES DOG BALL “trial by video” sessions. WAG IT GAMES DOG BALL, is a great way to start trialing and titling in the sport of Treibball. We will also be offering National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts , (NATE) fun runs for practice and more advanced skill building.
All current and former students are welcome and encouraged to come join us for these events. If you have been training on your own or in classes elsewhere, you are welcome to come and play whether or not you have taken our classes.
If you would like to be on our notification list for Wag It Dog Ball and NATE play days, send email to: dogsontheball@gmail.com. 
Only those who request to be on the list will be notified. Feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested in being notified.

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Treibball Hide and Seek, a fun training game!

This is a great game to add variety to your training and build drive for the ball!

It is simple: Hide the ball out of sight, send your dog to find it and drive it back to you. (If you are familiar with a “blind retrieve”, this is similar.) To play, you first must teach your dog how the game works:

Step 1) Train the “find” first: Put the ball out of sight but let your dog see where you are putting it. (Behind a bush, or around the corner in a doorway in your house, etc.)
From close range, send your dog to find the ball. As soon as they get to the ball have a big party for finding it, run in and +R at the ball. Then ask for a short drive to you, and +R again.
NOTE: For the entire chain of “go find the ball and push it back to me”, you will probably need a different cue or a combined cue. (Mine is “Go, PUSH!” This is same cue I use for any difficult ball retrieve and push back to me, in sight or not. See the “Runaway Ball” post.)

Step 2) Once your dog understands “go find the ball”, increase the distance. Distance is up to you, but raise criteria appropriately so that your dog can be challenged but still be sucesssful.

Step 3) Once your dog understands “finding the ball from a distance”, start using using different “blinds” to hide it in. Use your imagination! Play at short range with each new blind the first time, then increase the distance. A few times with different blinds and your dog will begin to generalize the “hide and seek” behavior.

This is a great game for in the house too-put the ball in different rooms and send your dog to find it, pushing through halls and doorways! Outside you might use trees, shrubs, or set up your own blinds with trash cans, agility equipment, your car, garden shed, or anything else you might have. The whole idea is that the ball becomes the focus amidst other distractions and the reinforcement should be great for finding and returning it to you! This game helps build drive, as some dogs need more reinforcement for finding the ball than others. Lots of +R for just finding the ball helps to build that drive for all dogs.

New class starting April 26

 Dogs on the Ball, Level 1

 Foundations for Creative Training and Sports with Treibball, Tricks and More!

  Learn an innovative new sport, have fun discovering your “inner circus dog” and sharpen your training skills in the process!  This class is for you…

  • If you want to build skills and relationship with your dog in a relaxed, non-competitive setting. Appropriate for dogs of all ages, including retired dogs-modify old skills and learn some new! All activities are low impact.
  • If you want to build a foundation for training any dog sport for fun or competition. All of these activities can be applied to any dog activity in your future.
  • If you want to learn the fun and versatile sport of Treibball, which combines elements of obedience, distance work, directionals, and the unique skill of ball pushing to a goal.
  • If you want to train Tricks for fun, skill building, body awareness and versatility.
  • If you are committed to spending some time on a regular basis to work with your dog.
  • If you are committed to using correction-free, positive reinforcement training. This is essential for participation in this course, without exception. You will learn how to use shaping, targeting and efficient use of luring in a variety of applications.

Prerequisites-must have one of the following to be eligible for this class:

  • Love on a Leash classes: Completion of 2 x 7 week Basic Obedience sessions OR Puppy Preschool followed up with one 7 week Basic Obedience. (Some participation in the Advanced Obedience class is beneficial, but not required)  OR
  • CGC, Canine Good Citizen training and/or certification, or equivalent  OR
  • Basic training for other sports or activities such as therapy dog, etc., with instructor permission.

PLEASE NOTE:  All dogs must be able to work under control around other dogs in a normal class environment. Only plain buckle collars or properly fitted martingales are allowed, no exceptions.

Schedule and Fees:

  • Location and time: Love on a Leash in Harrisonburg VA. Saturdays, scheduled dates are usually twice a month and/or alternating Saturdays. Level 1 class meets 11:30-12:30.
  • The next 6 week session dates are: 4/26, 5/3, 5/17, 5/31, 6/14, 6/28.
  • Fee for 6 classes is $90.00. Discount for LOAL members, 15%.
  • Make up policy for absences: Make up is by attendance at the level 2 class and is limited to one absence only.

To register or for more info, contact Char:  dogsontheball@gmail.com     

 

 

That’ll Do, Pig: The Wisdom of Babe

The wisdom of “Babe”, it’s so simple,. “All you had to do was ask.”

AKC Dog Lovers

—Bud Boccone

babe

“All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog,” says the narrator of Franz Kafka’s short story “Investigations of a Dog.” As the narrator himself is a dog, he might be prone to exaggeration in behalf of his species. But many devoted dog people will tell you it’s just a slight stretch.

Entire books have been written about what we can learn from dogs; Marley & Me was the most successful, but far from only, example. In the Family Dog magazine stories I write about our AKC Humane Fund ACE winners, people regularly tell me of how their remarkable dogs teach them about courage, loyalty, and other virtues we admire in our leaders and seek within ourselves.

It’s a sweet irony, then, to consider that one of our most popular canine teachers of life lessons is not a dog at all, but a…

View original post 281 more words

Treibball skills-how to handle those “Runaway Balls”

Treibball is a very unpredictable game. Balls can roll anywhere, anytime, depending on the terrain or floor, the wind direction, if the dog bumps the wrong one, etc. Of course these challenges are what make the game so much fun-but you do have to anticipate and train accordingly. As a new sport, many of us are still experiencing the unexpected and then it’s “Uh-oh…I better train for that!”.

One of these situations is when the ball rolls away from the dog as they are going out after it. Some dogs will go crazy and charge after it-maybe even pushing it further away as in “chasing it”, opposite of where you want it to go. Some dogs see a rolling ball as a lost cause and they just give up. In either case, the dog needs to learn to run past the rolling ball to a position on the opposite side and push it back to you.

I have a cue that I use for this which is “GO,PUSH!”. This is different from my regular clock and counter clock sends which mean “go out on the perimeter of the balls and I will give you direction from there”. And that directive might be “wait”, “walk up”, “flip” “back” or a change of direction. On the other hand, “GO, PUSH!” means “run out there, head it off , and push it in”. No further directives-just go out and push the ball back to goal. So when do I use this? I use it in situations where I need a fast run out to catch up with a runaway ball. Or in the middle of the game when I just need to keep things moving, random balls with no directed ball selection. It simply means “go out fast and get the ball however you can”. This is an intermediate to advanced level skill. You will need to already have a fluent send out with directionals, orientation and “PUSH” behavior, all with some distance. It is essential that you have this control before learning to deal runaway balls or consecutive ball pushes at a fast pace.

So first we need to practice running out and past a stationary ball. For this exercise we want to isolate just the running past the ball, no stopping to orient, etc. So to do this you will need to be quick on your mark and +R just passing the ball. Do this a few times until your dog propels forward to get past the ball on your cue, “GO”.

Now you are ready to get that ball rolling. Use a partially deflated ball here so that it does not roll too fast or out of control-that can be too arousing for some dogs and demotivating for others. The end result will be a “GO, PUSH!”, and your dog runs out and heads off the rolling ball, quickly orients and pushes it back to the goal (you). Here then is the step by step for training the retrieve of a runaway ball, and this assumes that your dog will have the prerequisite skills mentioned above:

  1. With your dog at your side in a “wait” and the ball in front of you, gently kick the (partly deflated) ball away from you just enough to get it rolling slowly. As the ball rolls, simultaneously cue your dog to “GO”.
  2. The second your dog takes off from your side, click and +R, tossing the +R just past the moving ball. Repeat this a few times until your dog is eagerly anticipating your cue to “GO”. No pushing just yet, we are working on just the fast send to get past the moving ball. (Up until now it was just running past the stationary ball.)
  3. Now raise your criteria from just leaving your side to actually going past the moving ball. Toss +R on the far side of the ball where you will want your dog to go. Do this until your dog is anticipating the +R past the ball and charging forward on cue. Keep this at short distance only until your dog is comfortable running past the ball as it rolls slowly.
  4. Add “PUSH”: Once you have at least a 10 foot send on your “GO” cue with the moving ball, add your “PUSH” cue just as your dog catches up with the ball. As soon as your dog stops, turns and attempts to orient/push, immediately mark and +R. You may need to isolate and +R the ‘stopping to orient” a few times-doing this with a moving ball is still new. High drive dogs will need control, less motivated dogs need the +R and reassurance at each step.
    • Fluent, oriented pushing skill is necessary here. This is where your foundation work comes into play. As soon as you cue “PUSH” your dog should take a position behind the ball and push it back to you. You may you need to go back and work on that separately if your dog is faltering here.
  5. This end result is a combined cue, “GO PUSH”.
  6. Gradually build distance and speed of the runaway ball. Add distance by rolling or pushing the ball away harder. Inflate the ball to make it roll easier and faster, but don’t make it too challenging too soon for your dog.
  7. The final product is a “kick and send” game. Have your dog “wait” at your side, kick the ball out, then send your dog after it with a “GO PUSH!” cue. That will come to mean “run after it and do whatever it takes to push that ball back to me”!

Once your dog is proficient, you can kick hard and far and watch them fly! This game is also very motivating for less driven dogs. It seems to bring out the prey drive and gets them excited once they realize that they can chase down the rolling ball and “catch” it to push it back.

Have fun!  Char

One trainer’s back to school review…

While I don’t always use a clicker I do always use “force free, mark and reward” as the basis for all of my training. My dogs know 2  markers from me: “Yes” or a clicker. Here are basic reminders that I tell myself at every single training session to keep me on my toes:

Reminder-“You get what you click for” Consistency and timing of your mark is everything. Once your dog understands your mark (word, click or other sound), they will know R+ is coming for the behavior that was marked. The most effective reinforcement is delivered within 3 seconds of the click or mark, and every mark or click must be consistently followed with reinforcement, even if you are wrong. So what if….

If you mark the wrong behavior by accident you must still back it up with R+. Trainers make errors, dogs don’t.  It’s not the dog’s fault that you clicked/marked in error, and they will expect their reward.  If this happens, just use a less valuable reinforcement with no fuss. To not R+ at all will confuse your dog and devalue your mark. Just move on and improve your timing to avoid those errors as much as possible (but it will happen to all of us on occasion!).

 If you are slow on your delivery of R+, praise your dog immediately after the mark/click to keep them engaged until you deliver the treat or toy. This bridges your praise with the primary reinforcement (food or toy) and helps close that 3+ second gap to the goodies. (We all at times get our hand stuck in a pocket!) 

If you are too soon with R+ and have it in view before the mark, then it becomes a distraction from the mark/click, essentially a lure and a bribe which takes the focus away from the task and distracts the dog from learning and thinking. R+ should be out of sight (pocket, bait bag, etc.) until after the click.

It’s not about the food and toys: I train with relationship being the priority and I want my dogs to enjoy training as much as anything else we do in life. I always invest myself along with any food, toys, etc. by praising, petting, or anything else that I know is reinforcing to my dog.

So in a nutshell:

  • Be consistent with the mark and know what you want.
  • Timing should be precise.
  • If your timing is off, still R+ to be fair to your dog.
  • If your R+ delivery is slow, add lots of praise in between your mark and delivery.
  • If your R+ is kept in view, it can make your dog lure-dependent and distract from learning. Keep R+ out of sight until after the mark/click. (pocket, hidden bait bag, etc.)
  • Remember that a “mark” is NOT the same as praise. Like food, praise is R+, and comes after the mark.

All training sessions should end on a positive note, and only you can make that happen!  Happy training and train happy-or don’t train at all!

Char