The training ground that we were able to use was provided by some friends who very generously offered the use of a grass, grazing field. We, the dogs and their Handlers that we trained are very firmly in their debt for providing this wonderful opportunity, with the backdrop of the beautiful Malvern Hills.
The field was approx. 80m x 30m with access in a corner via a gate. The hedges were lined with stock fencing and so we knew that the dogs were safe once they were within the field and also that few other animals would leave their scent within the field. Training the dogs on grass outside is more natural for them as they are not too worried about slippery floors or the elements. It was the responsibility of the Handler to be kitted out properly for the weather conditions.
Initially, there were 2 lanes (A and C) and we tried out these arrangements in our garden and also at other venues using barrier netting. Although the lanes could be left erected in our garden, it wasn’t always the most convenient way of training, (ie parking in our residential area, noise, neighbours, dog waste, concern for our dogs that there had been “strange” dogs in “their” garden, etc). At other venues, the lanes had to be set up each time. But, in order for the dogs to benefit from stable ground/scent conditions, we looked for a more permanent arrangement.
Initially, this 2 lane (A and C) arrangement was refined as some dogs required the addition of Lane B to increase the separation between the lanes. Lane A was the Primary training lane and Lane C was the secondary lane. The barrier netting (1m high) was supported vertically every 2m and pegged into the ground every 0.5m or so to prevent dogs from digging under it to escape. If a dog jumps over the netting (as some may wish to do), the main gate to the field is kept closed to keep the dog in the field.
As below, in the opposite corner of the field from the gate, we erected the training lanes using the barrier netting. Along one side of the field by the drive into the venue, away from these lanes, was the parking area for cars during the normal training sessions, ground conditions permitting.
The middle lane (B) was a useful barrier which increased the separation between the training Lanes A and C and was also used to store the equipment when not required during training. Later, I installed a gate halfway along the sides of Lanes A and C to allow access into Lane B for ease of moving equipment into Lanes A and C when required during a training session. These gates were always closed when there was a dog in the lane.
The other letters indicate areas of the field that will be used later on for different aspects of these Dog Games.
The layout and marking for each training Lane are given above. The distances are taken from the International Flyball requirements to maintain a standard approach which is accepted around the world. The Box area is the filled square from where the measurements are taken for positioning the jumps.
In marking the position of the Box area and each of the jumps, I initially marked their postion on the ground with the paint spray several days before there was any training to allow the paint and its smell to dissipate in the weather and to not be too pungent for the dogs. Of course, the grass grew over these marks making it difficult to maintain this constancy of distance, so I came up with another solution which also helped when the direction of running for the dog was switched around, ie the box area was removed to the other end of the Lane.
I painted the required marks in a specific coloured paint onto the barrier netting on one side of the Training Lane. So with the dog running from left to right, i painted the marks on the netting on the Left Hand side of the Training Lane.
Then, with the Lane turned around, i did the same and painted the marks in a different colour on the netting on the Left Hand Side of the Training Lane (now turned around). These markings will ensure that the Box area and the jumps are used in the same place each time they are used. There was no scent of paint on the ground; there was no problem with allowing the grass to grow; the markings also allowed a speedy placement of the jumps in the correct place without having to measure each time.
Being able to leave the netting in place for a long period of time allows the scent geography of the Lane to build up. And knowing this geography and watching a dog closely, you get an understanding why the dog behaves as he does. This is a benefit of being able to leave the netting in place for a long period of time so that the Lane/newspaper is "written on" and "read" by the dogs under training in this Lane. (You may need to consider keeping the grass short because of the smaller dogs).
This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).
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