BOUNCE - STARTERS
Bounce is a progression of Recall - the dog does a restrained recall over 8 inch/20cm high hurdles, through the finish poles and back to its handler for the motivator. Having already played the Recall Game, the dog will soon grasp the new aspect of the game and will enjoy the added challenge and variety of having to jump as well as run back to its handler for its reward.
Each stage of all the Dog-Games is non-competitive and is
designed to help both dog and handler learn at their own pace and
to their own ability.
See Guidelines for a full explanation of how to set up for success. Ideally the dog should be trained in exactly the same location that it was first taught Recall.Training for Level One
The main object of this first lesson is to teach the dog that when it goes over the jump and runs through the finish poles it will be well rewarded. However, if the dog either runs past the jump rather than go over it, or does not go between the finish poles, it does not get rewarded.
Ideally the dog should be trained in exactly the same location that it was first taught Recall. Before the dog arrives, once again prepare the training area by measuring where the poles and jumps should be, and spray paint the exact spots so that the equipment can be put in the same location for the next couple of training sessions. Also put up the plastic netting if the area is too big or not secure.
- The handler should only call the dog to them once it has become settled and is becoming bored with the lack of stimulation. As the dog already recognises that it is going to do a Dog-Game by the similar visual and environmental triggers it learnt while waiting to do Recall, don't be surprised if it is sitting expectantly at your feet waiting for the harness to be put on! This shows how strong the dog's happy associations are of the Dog-Games. However, if the dog is barking with frustration do not be tempted to start training - to do so would be to reward the dog for barking with something it really wants to do. Wait for it to give up and move away before calling it to you to begin training. It might be an idea to pre-empt the barking in the next session by starting the training before it gets frustrated enough to bark. It is not only the dogs that learn by trial and error…..!
- While the handler is putting on the dog's harness and attaches
the lead to it, the
helper should place the two poles and the first jump (ie
6ft/1.8m from the poles) in their location.
- The helper then takes the lead and calmly and quietly walks the dog in a wide curve (the blue line shown in the diagram) so it does not walk past the jump or the poles.
- It is very important that everyone should develop the habit of never allowing a dog to walk past the poles and the jumps. Otherwise the dog will learn that it can walk past the equipment rather than go over it or through it, and will do so when doing this and other Dog-Games. (This is the reason why the equipment was not put out while the dog was wandering around in number 1.) When dogs are learning a new exercise, they do not understand the concept of when the game starts, when it finishes, or whether it makes a difference when it is on a lead and when it is not. Be consistent with how you manage the dog so that it does not become confused and it will soon understand what the game is all about (see triggers).
- The helper then places the dog very close to the jump (so close, in fact, that it is impossible for the dog to go wrong). He must not be tempted to manhandle the dog by pushing it into the required position, or turning it in circles in an attempt to distract the dog. These actions disorientate the dog and make it lose its sense of direction as to where it is supposed to be running. The manhandling will also frustrate the dog, as it will upset its balance whilst it is preparing to run.
- The helper takes off the lead and holds the dog by the "handle" of the harness that runs along the dog's spine, with the dog on his left side. He must not hold the harness too tightly, just enough so that as soon as the dog begins to pull against it when the handler calls its name (8), the helper can open his fingers* and allow the dog to jump over the jump, run through the poles and get its motivator. (* It is permissible to give a little upward motion and impetus on the harness as it is released, to encourage the dog to jump over. However, this must be done very subtly as this movement could upset some dog's balance). Remember, the helper should not say anything to the dog so that it does not become distracted and can concentrate all its senses on its handler.
- Meanwhile, the handler gets the dog's
motivator ready and stands between the poles, facing the dog,
about 10 feet into the handler area. Using the same successful
techniques he used in Recall, he calls the dog's name
in an exciting and happy high-pitched voice while luring the dog by
showing it the motivator. It is imperative that the handler
remembers the basic training he did in Recall with respect to
keeping his body still and directly in the centre of the lane. The
dog now has the added challenge of negotiating an obstacle in its
path while focusing on the handler and the motivator. Any sideways
movement of either the handler's body or the motivator will
distract the dog enough so that it will run round the jump rather
than go over it. This exercise reveals the developing relationship
and teamwork of both man and dog - both need the help of the other
- As soon as the dog starts to pull against his harness the helper should calmly say "ready, steady - GO!" and release the dog so that it can jump the jump and run to his handler for the motivator, while the handler plays "chase me" and runs away from the dog. However, some dogs find the added stimulus of the handler running away too much and will run round the jump(s) in their anxiety to get back to the motivator - in these cases it is best if the handler moves backwards (or in the case of a very movement orientated dog, stays perfectly still) in the centre of the lane, while keeping eye contact with the dog. As always, it is very important that the dog is praised and rewarded immediately it reaches the handler, and in such a way that the dog is under no illusion that he has done something very clever (and slightly more physically and mentally taxing than Recall!)
- The helper will quietly approach the dog and put the lead back on its harness. The handler should calmly turn away and assume his position once again in the handler's area, perhaps 15ft back from the poles. Meanwhile, the helper once again leads the dog in a wide curve around the poles and the jump, and sets him up approximately 2 ft from the jump. It is important not to speak to the dog or distract it while doing these lessons (apart from when it is being rewarded by its handler) so that it has the opportunity to think about what it has just done and begin to retain it in its long-term memory.
- Repeat stages 4 to 9 three or four times more, increasing the distance gradually between the jump and the dog. Try to finish the first session with the dog doing jump 2 (on the 16ft/4.8m marker) as well as jump 1. However, this second jump does not have to be placed exactly 10ft/3m from the first - sometimes the distance is too great, especially for the smaller dogs. Experiment and place the jumps approximately 8ft/2.4m apart and increase the distance gradually over a number of sessions. This method of smaller spaces between jumps can be used whilst introducing all four jumps and then lengthened as the dog gains more experience of jumping. Each dog is different and the training should be adapted to suit each dog's needs and capabilities.
- It is highly likely that the dog will make a mistake in these early training sessions and go round the jump rather than over it. In fact, these mistakes most often occur when the dog is held quite some distance (eg 8ft or 9ft/2-3m) away from the second, third or fourth jump. The handler starts moving backwards, or swings the motivator from side to side rather than drag it along the centre of the lane, or turns away before the dog is sufficiently close enough. The dog becomes anxious that its motivator (or its beloved human) is going further away than it can cope with, and decides that it is far quicker for it to run past the jumps and get back to the handler and the motivator than "Play the Game" and do the jumps as well. Therefore, it is very important for the trainer/helper to watch the dog's body language each time it returns to the handler, and then work out the reasons why it swerves. Never allow a dog to go wrong twice - the second time is setting a precedent that is almost impossible for it to forget. Instead, manage the training situation by helping the dog get it right - lower the criteria (eg start it closer to a jump; shorten the spacing between the jumps; have the handler come further up - even into - the lane so that the dog feels it is quicker to go over rather than round a jump; finish the training session by giving it a very easy jump/reward chain so that it remembers this last sequence while it is resting - latent learning. As mentioned in Equipment needed, it is possible to put wings (wooden or human!) either side of the jumps to make them seem wider so that the dog decides to jump the flyball jump rather than take the long way round the wings. However, this is a "quick fix" that really does not help the dog learn right from wrong - only to do the jumps when the wings are present. Reread How dogs learn right from wrong to remind yourself how to help your dog learn what you want it to do - be consistent with your signals, responses and body movements.
- Always finish a training session on a successful note and with the dog wanting to still play the game. He will then be keener and more confident the next time he enters the training area.
- Remember to write up the dog's notes so that you can begin the next session where you left off. Also make sure to write down any training difficulties that the dog needs more work on.
- The handler should calmly take the dog to a quiet place where it can relax and unwind, and be allowed to retain what it has learnt in its memory without any distractions. Sometimes a well-ventilated car, which does not give the dog a view of the training area, is an ideal place to let a dog relax in between training sessions.
- Some dogs can cope with more than one training session in their first lesson, while others benefit more from being rested for an hour or so and brought back later or another day, when they are keener to play the game again. Trust your instincts and remember - it is better to do too little and teach some more next time, than to do too much and take the dog's eagerness away for repeating the Game in the future.
- If you do try another session later on, consult your notes so that you can start where you left off and try to progress from there.
- Only put the training equipment away once all the dogs have been looked after and are resting peacefully. Some dogs become anxious and unsettled when they see their exciting training environment changing as the equipment is moved and dismantled.
- Once the dogs have had a chance to relax and unwind, and the training equipment and netting have been put away, the dogs should be allowed free time off the lead together. This is best done by a few handlers and dogs going together for a gentle stroll in an area with enough space for the dogs to move away or approach each other as they need. It is important that the humans do not call their dogs or give commands while this canine interaction is going on. The dogs need to relax and be themselves without the added pressure of listening out for their handlers voice as well. It is also important that no toys are played with when exercising the dogs, as this could over excite them or start aggressive behaviour between certain dogs over who should have the toy. The handlers and trainer will begin to notice which dogs are comfortable and friendly with one another and which prefer to keep their distance. This will help them decide later on which dogs to choose when doing changeovers in the Gold levels of other Dog-Games (there are no changeovers or Gold Levels in Recall and Bounce).
To gain a certificate at Level One the dog must be able to do at least three out of five correct recalls over two jumps, through the poles and return to its handler for its motivator while being held by its harness. The first jump must be 6ft/1.8m from the finish poles and the second jump between 8-10ft/2.4-3m from the first jump (ideally the spacing should be 10ft/3m, however some dogs - particularly small ones - struggle with the jumps at this distance when they are learning to jump and so allowances can be made).
If the dog is unable to fulfill this criteria it should be rested, given further training and should not be tested within an hour of the last attempt.
The dog has now earned its Starters Bounce - Certificate Level One.
The dog can now progress on to Level Two
As soon as the Entry Form and fees are received our staff will enter your dog's details on the website Roll of Honour, so that you have a record of its achievements as it progresses through the Games, and your certificate will be posted to you.Training for Level Two
- Build on Level One training sessions so that gradually, over a period of time that is suitable for the dog's learning processes, the third and finally the fourth flyball jump can be added to the Bounce lane. Do not be tempted to rush through these stages - they are the building blocks and foundations of the dog's ability to understand the Bounce Game. Give the dog time to experiment and learn what is expected of it. If the lessons learnt are not "rock solid" the dog will struggle later on with the added challenge of distractions, and the changes of environment and location.
To gain a certificate at Level Two the dog must be able to do at least three out of five correct recalls over all four jumps, through the poles and return to its handler for its motivator. The first jump must be 6ft/1.8m from the finish poles and the other three jumps between 8-10ft/2.4-3m apart (ideally the spacing should be 10ft/3m, however some dogs - particularly small ones - struggle with the jumps at this distance when they are learning to jump and so allowances can be made). However, Bronze and above levels of Bounce will always have the jumps set exactly 10ft/3m apart.
If the dog is unable to fulfill this criteria it should be
rested, given further training and should not be tested within an
hour of the last attempt.
The dog has now earned its Starters Bounce - Certificate Level Two and a Starters Bounce rosette.
The dog can now progress on to Bronze Bounce
As soon as the Entry Form and fees are received our staff will enter your dog's details on the website Roll of Honour, so that you have a record of its achievements as it progresses through the Games, and your certificate and rosette will be posted to you.
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