OK, so actually last night we did Flyball session no. 3 at a different club again however I have not posted about our second experience so I thought I would …
I was sad after our first Flyball experience that Kubo couldn’t make the training again for at least a month so we found another local group and went along to one of their training sessions.
We had a completely different experience to the first group we were in. First and foremost, the training was outside. This was quite nice as it was a pleasant morning, though I could imagine that in the cold and wet it wouldn’t be as great! Since I suffer with Raynaud’s, I can really struggle in cold, outdoor situations. This club had been running for a shorter time so had less people (although I understand it just happened to be a quiet week anyway) and only one run set up. We were the first to arrive which was really nice as I had some time to chat to the Captain. She had a van and as we pulled up in the car (we weren’t in our big yellow van this time!) we were greeted with lots of barking – this seems to be becoming the norm! She had a lot of dogs with her, from memory about sixteen – and to think I still struggle to live with one – but they did all wait in the vehicle.
The people were equally as nice and potentially because the group was smaller, or maybe just because it was a new group so the members hadn’t been there too long, I found it easier to talk to people. It may have even been, I suppose, that I had already been to a Flyball session before, so I was not a totally ignorant newbie!
Rather than the runs being on mats, the jumps were set out over grass with fencing around to keep the starters on track. I really thought Kubo wouldn’t like this at first but he had no issue at all. As we had done at the previous class, we practised Kubo running back to me (but without me running alongside) and he was perfectly happy to do so. He still hates being held though, apparently!
Very soon we moved on to me letting him go to get the ball and coming back to me which he did really well. We started one jump away and then moved back bit by bit. Each time he stayed pretty focussed (apart from once when he went tearing off out of the fence to find his Dad!) and always dropped the ball for me. Admittedly, I did remember his tuggy rope and he loved the play reward since he was so psyched up from the fun he was having. I did struggle to get him to let go of the tug a few times, which is actually unusual for him.
When we had a break, he was allowed to socialise a bit which was really nice for him and something we didn’t really get a chance to do before. Since we were in a large field, we could stand near enough to the run for us to be able to watch but without Kubo disturbing the training dogs. We did put him in the car a couple of times so I could watch a bit closer and Dave learnt how to load the box. It was nice for him to get some hands on experience and to be able to understand a bit more about what was going on, especially as I always handle Kubo and he tends to have to watch. Although it probably sounds really stupid, I didn’t know how the box worked and it was nice to see the ‘real’ Flyball dogs in action!
On Kubo’s next turn, he had to work quite a bit harder. The box was involved. We had established that he was left pawed which sounds about right; he often put his left foot forward first. I’m pretty sure I have heard somewhere that male cats tend to be left pawed and female ones right? I could be totally wrong and I don’t know if this even applies to dogs, but it may do. We learnt to teach him box turns (I think that’s what it’s called) and he is slowly starting to get it.
Now, after joining another Flyball training session, I have even more questions than before. If anyone can help, please do:
- What does competing entail? Do I pay? Are there prizes? I have looked around but it all seems so unclear to me!
- Why are there two Flyball clubs in the UK? Is one better? Should I join both?
- Can I train with more than one group? If not, how do I choose?
- Can I compete with more than one team? If not, how do I choose?
- Do I have to keep my dog in a crate/car when not running?
- What is a good speed?
- What happens if a dog knocks a jump?
- Are competitions done on mats or other surface?
- Should I teach my dog to turn both ways?
- Where can I get a decent fleece tug? I have looked online but I can’t tell the quality.
There are so many other things I am unsure or nervous of! I know I could ask one of the Captains but I don’t feel I can ask them about joining multiple clubs. What if that’s a big no-no taboo and super rude? – I don’t want to offend anyone straightaway! Or maybe it’s perfectly fine to train with different groups and lots of people do it.
At the end of the session, once we had all helped pack up, all the dogs in the van were let loose and it was so much fun watching border collies, lurchers and other breeds tearing across the field and playing together. Kubo was put in his place by a male who continuously tried to hump him and so keep seeking help and hiding by any human he could. I must admit, I really don’t like it when other dogs do this to him but I suppose there’s nothing really that can be done. This was the point we felt it was probably time to leave and save him the embarrassment!