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Casual Flyball & Agility training equipment

Casual Flyball & Agility training equipment; not competition standard stuff, but an awful lot of fun nonetheless.

You may recall the flyball jumps that I made for Oz sometime ago; no I still haven't got around to painting them:

Well over the last 10 days or so.... weather permitting we've had these out on the lawn for about an hour each evening and have had a lot of fun training Oz over the jumps.

However, the crossbar height adjustment modifications that I made last year so that the hurdles could be also used at the official agility heights have proven to be unsuitable and unsafe; we can only jump Oz one way over the hurdles, because if he should catch the crossbar on the way back the whole hurdle will fall over and possibly injure him in the resulting tumbling chaos.

I have overcome this issue by modifying the hurdles yet again but have utilised a quick, cheap, effective and safe method.

Basically I have drilled the hurdles at the regulation agility competition jump heights as laid down in the rule book, and have used 16mm diameter wooden dowelling rod cut to 22mm long lengths which allows 13 mm protruding from 9 mm thick plywood to rest the crossbars on. The hurdles were drilled to suit, and using a mallet and some waterproof wood glue they have been fixed into position. The cut to length lightweight 1 inch diameter plastic water pipe crossbars sit nicely on the dowel pegs and are easily knocked off without hindering Oz. When we are practising Flyball the hurdle sides are assembled with the dowels facing ouwards so that Oz cannot accidentally catch himself on them.

These dowels have also proven useful for supporting the jump through hoop that I made out of the For-sale sign.

Last week I bought a flyball launcher, and set of slalom weave poles from the Rosewood range: these are not official competition flyball or agility equipment, but casual, use in the garden training aids, and they are a lot of fun to use. Oz picked up the flyball within a few minutes, but getting him to run back and negotiate the hurdles with the ball is a little hit and miss, but he will get it before too long. The weave poles are proving to be a very frustrating training exercise for both me and Oz.... but give him  some more time and I think he will eventually get there.

The Rosewood flyball launcher is made of plastic and aluminum, folds away neatly for storage, and has a large none slip foot pad trigger for releasing the ball. The set of 5 slalom weave poles are not the greatest in the world, but they are safe in use, and they are cheap.

I don't think that I have either the time or the patience to get Oz to competition agility standards, but competition flyball just may be a possibility. However, these bits 'n' bobs are very useful general training aids, a lot of fun to use, and Oz is stimulated in his play and training activities with us.

Who knows, I just might get around to actually painting the hurdles.

Oz has become complacent with his training and is beginning to take the mickey out of me.

The first two sessions went wonderfully well as he seemed to pick it up straight way. But during the following 3 sessions instead of running up to the ball launcher and hitting it with his front paw to fire the mechanism and release the ball, he is just ambled down the garden and gently plucked the ball from the launcher without tripping it...... he then sits or lays down as though he can't be bothered about it, without bringing the ball back to me, which is very unusual for him, as he is very insistent that I play ball with him; his usual exercise sessions on the park playing fetch haven't altered at all.

I set about doing a little research about Flyball training, and it looks as though it is me who is at fault, so I now have to turn my back on my perceived method of training and follow the lead of those that know.

The first step that I should have undertaken was to teach Oz how to turn around a pole. After four or five days of running down the garden, and then turning around the pole I can then introduce the Flyball launcher; not to be used but to just be in the area so that he is not distracted by it. After a couple of more days I can start moving the launcher towards the pole by 1 foot per day until Oz is forced to touch the launcher to negotiate the pole. Then I can begin teaching him the "swimmers turn."

Anyway, here are a couple of short videos on Flyball training; wish me luck!

I have also found a set a free to download PDF plans for making an official Flyball competition ball launcher; I think that I am more than capable of making one of these, and now I will be possibly building more than just a boat in the shed this coming Autumn and Winter.

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