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PSmitty

Help from flyball peeps

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Ok, this is not about a border collie, but I'm hoping to get some fresh ideas from our flyball folks.

 

On our team we have a green, young JRT, Turbo, who has great potential, but has trouble spinning at the start line when released. If he's running by himself in the lane in practice, he's fine. He understands the job is to go get his ball and come back. He's a fast little sucker, too. But, when we put him in a lineup (last, of course), he has trouble going down the lane. He'll go toward the first jump, then spin and look back at either the dog who passed him, or his owner. He won't chase the other dog, and will usually proceed down the lane after "mom" yells at him to go, but it's a huge time waster, obviously. Oh, and this is is with wide open passes, when the other dog is already passed him. He's been in training for a long time without significant improvement.

 

Now, as I said, he's young and he's a terrier, so that may explain everything (:rolleyes:), but I'm looking for any training tips, or do you think he just needs more time, more practice?

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We have a border collie on our club that does this as well that already has 3 years of tournament experience. She will spin occasionally, stop, look at her owner, sometimes go and complete the run, sometimes not. She is not a habitual spinner, that can be dangerous and I'm not sure if that can be fixed. That is a tough problem and will take effort from everyone to help mitigate. Every dog is different within this specific problem, so your team will need to experiment. Here's what we've done- in practice we tried another handler to run her to see if anything changed (that didn't help at all). We tried getting the owner/handler to hold the dog differently before starting (if she held the dog tighter to her body, it actually seemed to keep her dog focused better). We tried various positions for the dog to run- this particular BC seemed to engage better when she knew she was racing a specific dog, that is, if she was back in the line up, she was usually not racing a specific dog any longer and seemed to go haywire and spin more often. Having her run in first or second position helped and she tended to have fewer meltdowns at tournaments. Most importantly, we've also started to pull her immediately in a race (or practice) if she started to spin and put her in a crate that we have ready right outside the ring. Our back up dog ready to go in at the instant. The idea is to never reinforce the unwanted behavior. They do it right or the fun is over. We're still working on it, but she is getting much better and having way fewer meltdowns. The handler is also doing a better job of getting the dog excited too. The dog seems excited to us, but the handler can sense when her dog sort of hits a wall and looses some of her drive, it can happen quickly with her. It seems weird to me that this happens, as she is otherwise a 100% ready to go crazy and have fun border collie, but it does. A little extra fun tuggie play before the race is helping a lot. As I see it, there are very subtle triggers that cause this dog to spin. You need work through it all, find the triggers and replace them with other cues to keep the dog focused.

 

Keep up the box work with this dog, five or ten minutes of box work a few times a week will make a big different over time and what dog doesn't need a better box turn? Some dogs just need to do it a bazillion times before it sinks in.

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Paula,

 

Have you tried running the dog in start (ZoZo also suggested that)? If he doesn't have a dog to turn and chase perhaps he'd be a bit more focused. I like ZoZo's suggestions about pulling the dog at the first sign of a problem in competition.

 

In practice, in addition to working passing exercises, you might try having a human runner race him to the box to focus him on running down instead of spinning back towards the dog he's passing. You could even try having someone else release him & have his owner be either the runner or the boxloader. Once the dog gets solid with that in practice, you can do the same thing in warm ups.

 

Good luck. He sounds like a great little dog if you can get him over this issue. : )

 

Dana

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My dog, Bandit (a Boston Terrier) has the same issues and to make it worse, it is something that recently started as he has been in fly ball for a couple of years now! We've tried everything suggested in the previous posts and nothing (though when someone else runs him, his meltdowns are not as frequent, so it might be me) really works!

 

A couple of things to try. If he is an anchor dog (Bandit is one, cuz he is also the height dog), hold him, turn away from the lane, so he does not see the other dogs run. After the last dog passes (and I'm talking a huge pass), get him set/focused on the box and bowl/run with him. You can run up to the start line with him, but of course, don't pass it. Bandit wears a harness so I just hold onto him until the last second. We start at the 10 ft mark, because he is little, and tires quickly.

 

Also, during practice, the dog spins, and before you put him back in the crate, make sure the box loader takes the ball out of the box, so as not to reward him for spinning. I hope that all makes sense.

 

That's all I have, and I'll be following this thread for, hopefully, more tips! It is so frustrating because it started so suddenly and we can't put our fingers on it.

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I am well versed in the spinning dog. My acd has done this for years (many acds seem to have the problem actually). Only in the last 2-3 years have I been able to get them under control. We can go tourneys without spins and if she does spin at a tourney it may be 3 all weekend. If she spins then on her return she does not get her tug and she is put into a down as discipline. This seems to work for the short term.

 

Anyways, we tried many things including if she spun in practice we had someone step in before she even got a full run in and pulled her out. Nothing seemed to work and it seemed we would figure out one thing that caused the spins and a couple tourneys later something else would cause them. Initially Foster's spins were caused by collisions - she had dogs not willing to move out of the lane and she would just take them out in her younger days. She had right of way so she taught dogs to move.

 

Some of things that cause the spins: not comfortable passing, people yelling GO which sounds like NO, cheerleading the dog down the lane which means yelling at them the whole way, dogs hogging the lanes and not giving the passing dog much room menaing dogs lunging and barking as the dog passes, a problem with running away from the owner, being to revved up, etc... you get the drift. You may want video what is happening when the dog spins and when it is not. What is the returning dog doing, what is the handler doing, etc... see if you can figure out where the problem is coming from like the handler holding the dog different, using different release words

 

Now after saying all that I have only found one solution to Foster spinning which involves a couple things.

 

1. I pick up Foster all 30lbs of her every single heat and I have my back to the lanes

2. I do not rev her and I do not say a word when I release her

3. I set her down just before I need to release her and send her down the lane.

4. As soon as I release her I give short backwards pull on her and I take off running. I know where her feet need to be to get a good pass so when I set her down I put her front feet about 6 inches ahead so when I pull her back which is about 6 inches her feet are in the correct place. The pull backwards put me just a hair ahead of her on the lanes so when I take off running she wants to follow. She will concentrate on catching me and not worried about what is going on around her. And yes sometimes I get lazy on the pull backwards but I still run.

 

I definitely get a lot of exercise running Foster since I run with her every single heat up and back and we are usually somewhere back in the 50-60' range. With spinning dogs you cannot be a lazy handler.

 

Please let me know if the above makes sense. If not, I can see if we have any video out there of me running Foster or I can try to explain in more detail.

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