What do I need to train my dog?
Not much is needed to train your dog. The Denver Speed Demons provides the basic equipment like: regulation jumps, training chute, Flyball box, tennis balls, etc.
What you will need to bring to class:
A harness or flat collar (No Halti, Gentle-Leader, choke, pinch/prong collars)
Proof of current vaccinations
Yummy treats or favorite toys (things your dog loves the most)
Tons of enthusiasm and praise! (and patience!)
What is a body harness and where can I get one?
A body harness is a plain ol' harness. You can get them for a reasonable price where you purchase other pet products. They are usually found with the collars and leashes. The harness should go across the chest, up around the neck, down the back, through the front legs, up the rib cage, and meet behind the shoulder blades. As long as they don't impair running or jumping they are fine. We have three reasons for using the body harness:
1. Air Supply: The body harness actually goes across the chest instead of across the Esophagus. If it goes across the throat it cuts off the much needed air supply. The body harness allows the pressure to be put on the chest/shoulders.
2. Handler Safety: Once the initial training of the dog has been completed (once they know the game and don't need the Chute anymore) we have to worry about spinning. The body harness allows the handlers' fingers to be saved from excited dogs. Some of the dogs get so excited that they start to spin right before we let them go. Someone actually had to have surgery on her fingers because she was holding the collar of a dog and the dog spun and busted her fingers. So we want to be sure to have control at all times without worrying about fingers.
3. A Chute: When training your dog, handlers (trainers) will be holding the dog as you call them to you. Some of the trainers and handlers are small and their arms aren't as long as some of these dogs. Trainers will be squatting behind your dog to prevent them from going backwards. We need straps farther back on the dog so those with short arms can still have control from behind. Our arms are placed on either side of the dog to make somewhat of a chute. This prevents the dogs from going to either side or backwards. The Chute means they can only go one way...forward to you. We want to keep the safety of the dogs and handlers in mind at all times.
If you are not sure what size to get your dog or are not sure how to put it on and adjust it...ask one the sales people at the store or contact anyone with the Denver Speed Demons and we will help you with any questions you may have.
Just keep in mind that your dog will be running and jumping so get the harness big enough for the ribs to expand to full girth and the shoulders to have full range of motion.
What can I do with my dog before starting a Beginner class?
There are a lot of things you can work on that will increase your enjoyment of the class:
Teach your dog to fetch.
If fetch is good, teach the dog to bring the ball back and put it in your hand or at your feet
Teach your dog to touch a target (w/ paw or nose)
Teach your dog to allow other people to handle him/her
Teach your dog to focus on you only! "Watch me"
Teach your dog basic obedience commands (sit, stay, come, retrieve) This is a must!!
Make your basic commands very reliable
Teach a reliable "Come" with distractions (other dogs, people, etc)
Teach your dog to interact well with other dogs (no aggressive dogs allowed)
Teach your dog to drop the ball on command
Teach your dog to fetch a "dead" or "still" ball...one that is not moving...and bring it back, or teach the "take-it" command.
These are not required to attend a beginner session, only suggestions to help improve your experience. If you would like some ideas on how to accomplish these, please email Jess Jalbert.
What is a Flyball Box?
A flyball box is the most important piece of equipment for flyball racing. The flyball box is essentially a trigger box that is spring loaded. The whole front panel of the box is the trigger. Dogs are taught to jump onto the front pedal to trigger a tennis ball to shoot out. There are many different kinds of flyball boxes. Some have a flat front pedal, while some are curved. The balls are loaded by a "Box Loader" . Some boxes have one hole, two holes, or three holes. Each dog is left handed or right handed (some are ambidextrous) so when the dog reaches the box, they have to turn one way or the other to go back over the jumps. The ball is put in the hole that is at the edge of the box in the way the dog turns (say a dog turns left, a ball is placed in the left hole).
As you can imagine, a dog running full speed, jumping on the box to get the ball, and then turning back, can be fairly stressful to doggie joints. However, the dogs are taught to do a "swimmers turn". A swimmers turn acts somewhat like a slingshot. Instead of the dog coming up and slamming straight into the box, they are taught to come at a slight angle to take the stress off their joints. They actually land on the box sideways with all four feet. It reduces the stress and also allows the dog to keep the momentum it had so it can continue to run fast instead of having all momentum stopped and then starting again.
We begin training on a "Training Chute." It is a ramp that is larger then a regular flyball box, without the spring mechanism. It teaches the dog to get on the box with all four feet while grabbing the ball.
Who can play?
This is the best part of flyball is that ANYONE can play! Any breed, mixed or purebred, rescued or bought, can play flyball. Dogs of all sizes, from Yorkies to Great Danes (or Jack Russel Terriers to White German Shepherds) enjoy this fast paced and exciting sport. The only doggie friends that aren't allowed are puppies that are less then a year old and aggressive dogs.
At about a year of age, the growth plates in most dogs have pretty much solidified. We won't take a dog that is younger than a year (big breeds have to be even older) as we don't want to harm the still growing growth plates. Jumping, triggering the flyball box, playing on the training chute and even some hard running, can put stress on the growth plates, joints and bones of puppies and can cause future damage. If your dog is less than a year old, please contact us for options.
As for aggressive dogs…unfortunately we can't accept aggressive dogs in classes. This sport is for fun. To have fun, everyone must feel comfortable, especially the dogs. If your dog is people aggressive, fear aggressive or dog aggressive, you must go through some behavioral classes or see a behaviorist before signing up. We can't take the chance of something bad happening to our very special furry friends (or ourselves), so we have to ask that no aggressive dogs attend.
Don't get discouraged...we have dogs of every age and capability. Some are fast, some are slow...some pick up on the sport quickly, and some take a longer time. The most important thing is to have fun with your dog!!