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Discussion Starter #1
A few weeks ago at training one of my team mates said that she feels a dog should have experience being run by different people and that the team should be able to basically run dogs interchangeably. The discussion came about because this person has three dogs trained in flyball and obviously can only run one of them at a time during tournaments. I was just wondering what other people thought about this, especially from a GSD point of view. I know that Nikon would only run for Phil or Falon (and would probably only run for Falon if I was also in the ring and only run for Phil if I was totally out of the picture). I don't really see any value in allowing other people to run my dog either in practice or at tournaments, but I know I've always been pretty guarded with my dogs and want everything we achieve to be as a team (I handle him myself in conformation, don't let other people line-handle him at SchH, etc).
 

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Not a flyball person but I would personally say no, I do everything with my dog myself and I don't like other people getting too involved. I worked very hard to get my dog to the place he is in training and there are very few if any people that I would trust doing anything with him. I don't see any real benefit to it either, if your dog is running you're going to be there regardless so why would you NEED to train him to allow multiple people to run him

I don't see why it would be a issue to say you disagree, you could offer to help others to maybe unruffle some feathers if that's what the club decides to do but allowing another person to run your dog just because they ask you to should be up to you and they should respect your decision either way

JMO
 

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For me this depends on the dog. My shepherd, no I most likely would not have someone else handle him in anything. Under very special circumstances would I alter this but not for something like flyball. My border collie, I will let anyone handle. He is a different sort of dog so it isn't as much of an issue.
 

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Isn't flyball a 'team sport'? I guess I could see the reason for others to handle the team dogs.
In other sports, however, usually the team consists just of the dog and handler....and handler should be the only one to handle.
 

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I think that should be entirely up to you. If you're not comfortable with the idea for whatever reason, I don't think you should be pressured to do it. If her dogs will run for anyone, great. Since you're only racing one dog right now anyway, the only reason someone might need to run him for you is if you got injured at a tournament and there weren't enough extra dogs to just pull him. That did actually happen to one of our teammates, she fell in the ring and sprained her ankle. She spent the rest of the day laying in the crating area with her foot elevated on a chair and a bag of ice taped to it, but we just had other people run her dogs. One of them is recovering from an injury that occurred outside of flyball, but shortly after he started racing. He's back in training now, and when he's ready to race again he'll be handled by Mollie's roommate Carrie, who doesn't even have a dog. Michelle refers to Carrie as Rico's "flyball mom", lol. Carrie also runs Jinx for our co-captain, who has a gazillion dogs and can't possibly race them all herself.

We all handle each other's dogs extensively at practice in terms of restraining them, but I've never actually raced any of our other dogs and nobody else has raced Halo. I don't think it would be an issue, even if I were there, I think she'd run for anyone who had her beloved Orbee tug. :wub: She goes batcrap crazy if she sees Tom (he has to hide if he comes to watch her race!) and would almost certainly go to him instead of to the box, but I could probably be right there in the ring and she'd still do her job. I'd just want to coach the person first, so they know to hold on tight because she lunges forward when the race starts, and that she hits the tug hard and doesn't always like to let go.
 

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I think if a dog will run for someone else then great, but to expect it or require it of the members of the team absolutely not.

My dog can be goofy to handle. She is not forgiving of poor reward presentations and the scars on my knuckles prove that. She also isn't coming back just for the toy, she is coming back for the game of tug with ME, I can't imagine she'll be as quick for others as she'd be for me.
 

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Ya its kinda nice to have dogs that will run for other people. I have been running a team mate's jack and I LOVE it, all the fun and none of the other stuff that goes with having a bunch of dogs haha. The easy way to avoid HAVING to have other people run your dog is to not get more than you can handle;)

From a GSD point of view NO ONE would EVER be able to run either of my dogs. Odin just wouldn't do it and Havoc gets super pissy about other people handling him (I don't even do restrained recalls with him.) Both of my boys are also very mouthy (ya so far have been bit a lot when they are super jacked), big, hard to handle and very unforgiving if you don't handle them properly (bad tug presentations etc). I would be way too concerned about my dog injuring someone or the dog getting injured while someone else is handling them.

From my point of view WTH is the point if someone else is running my dog??? :)
 

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Isn't flyball a 'team sport'? I guess I could see the reason for others to handle the team dogs.
In other sports, however, usually the team consists just of the dog and handler....and handler should be the only one to handle.
Yeah, flyball is definitely different that way, it's not at all unusual for people to be running other people's dogs. Three of my teammates went to a tournament last weekend, and it takes 5 people to race - one handler for each dog, and a boxloader, so people from other clubs filled in.

There's one club in Southern California that always seems to show up to tournaments with just 3 or 4 people, and our club has helped them out numerous times. I've boxloaded for them, and other people in my club raced some of their dogs, so it's not just people in the same club that might step in to help.

But still, I don't think anyone should HAVE to let other people run their dog if they don't want to.
 

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I don't do flyball -- yet -- but Jag does agility. I can't run that far for health reasons, but I trained him to do all of the obstacles, and I can run short sequences, but for him to progress, and he loves agility, he is running for our instructor. I agree that it can work, but it shouldn't b required.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I should say there is no pressure, it was just a discussion we had and I have no intentions of letting anyone else handle my dog, especially since right now he's my *only* dog doing flyball. I have handled other dogs in practice and in tournament competition. We do it frequently in practice but these tend to be older, very experienced dogs (dogs that have been competing for 5+ years), or dogs that have handlers with physical limitations.

Also another thing to consider is not just the handling but the whole concept of handing my dog off to someone else and having them drive my dog to a different state for the whole weekend. Ah, no! Not happening!

During training we always help each other and it's rare that no one else ever holds or touches my dog, but actually handling the dog is not the same as helping with starts, holding for run backs, etc.

For me it depends on the dog. Nikon, no. Pan....yes he has been handled by several people (Falon, Jason, Phil, a guy on another team that liked him....heck if people were trying to give advice during a tournament we'd say then YOU get in the ring and run him if you think you can do better!). We even used to run Pan and Nikon into each other to work passes since on my team the next closest dog in size is only 45lbs.

I have let people hold Nikon's tug after I catch him though. They make such a big deal out of how hard this 32lb Border Collie tugs so I hand over my tug and see how they like the torque from a shepherd that weighs over twice that!
 

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I handle a dog for a teammate that has 3 dogs actively running (soon to be four). I don't think it could hurt a dog that knows the game to learn to get used other people running them if the same general procedure is followed (same reward, etc.). I mean, if a handler gets sick or hurt over the weekend it affects everyone if that dog can't run. If you are a small team that has come a long distance, that can really be a bummer.

Now, giving your dog to someone for them to take to a tournament your not even going to be at, I don't think that's necessary and like you, I'd want to accomplish things together.
 

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The problem is there are VERY few people who can catch a GSD safely even on a flyball tug. They are not even close to the hardest hitting and biting border collie. Most of my teammates can barely hold our dogs for recalls let alone in a racing lane with dogs running by.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Very true Trish, I didn't even really think of it that way since luckily Nikon is so much easier to "catch" now that I use a 4' braided rope tug with a ball and drag it. Before I had them on these tugs though, catching was brutal. I even had Jason bring a bite wedge to training and catch Pan a few times. My team member who has Border Collies made us a nice fleece tug. I've seen her dog using the same one for years, and her dog is supposedly the mad tugger. When we used the one she made me, Pan bit it clean it half, before he even tried tugging on it hard.


I guess my overall feeling is that I don't think this is a bad thing (I've handled someone else's dog during tournaments) but I don't see it as a training priority. Like maybe if my dog were consistently running under 4.5 and his turn was always clean and I could pass him into any dog without any warming up or training with that lineup, maybe *then* it would be cool to let other people handle him but in the grand scheme of things there are so many other places that we can improve together, it just doesn't interest me at this point.
 

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The fleece tugs just don't work for us. Even the most well made one only lasts a few heats. It wasn't worth the money trying different ones. Errow is using a gappay french linen tug and Fyurie uses a kong weird faced ball on a super heavy duty rope. Both toys are lasting about a year. Panther will use some sort of ball on a rope or string. I tried the really long tugs but with his momentum it was going to be really dangerous and he didn't like it as much.
 

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I'm not a fan of the big, long braided tugs. I find a lot of the dogs don't target well on them and I fear for the hands of my team mates lol. I am using a two handed flat suede type material tug with Odin and its working great. I have been watching some of the rocket relay videos and they suggest the big long tugs and swinging your dog as you catch them, and they don't want them slowing into the tug at all....That works great with a 35 pound border collie but I would think is super dangerous for a big, fast dog. We have a pit bull mix on our team that weighs close to 70 pounds and runs 3.9, her handler has a heck of a time catching her! I keep trying to convince her to catch her with a normal tug and use two hands but the dog is so used to the big braided tug that she would need a bit of retraining and we have a tournament in two weeks. I think up until now at tournaments she has just been using food but she wants to try and improve her times using a tug, I feel bad for us with giant (in comparison) flyball dogs:)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I don't mind Nikon's long braided tugs but they have balls, no way is he targeting on the tug itself or anywhere near my hand (and since he's done SchH and similar sports for 4 years he's well beyond learning where it's OK to target and where will get you in deep trouble!). The nice thing with the drag tug is that the dog is targeting low. Since I'm sprinting away from him (I run with him all the way to the start line and then haul BUTT back) he's maintaining if not gaining speed on his way back and I don't have to actually "catch" him like I used to (he's not jumping at me at all). He just snatches the ball and since the tug is so long I don't have to actually swing him in the air. If for some reason he still has too much forward momentum I just let go. With as often as we are doing tournaments now I don't want him swinging around all the time. Heck we don't even do long bites at SchH on a regular basis! Also the nice thing is if he faults, I just pull my tug back up, grab the loop on his harness, and send him right back in (usually he runs 3rd so after the 4th dog passes in we cross the lane and are ready in time to pass him back in if he has to re-run).
 

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For up close box work I've been using a ball on a rope to get him targeting low off the box. It hasn't been great for "catching" though. I find he gets a little overly worked up when doing full runs and stops targeting the ball and getting closer to my hand. He also swings when I catch him one handed with a ball on a rope and I'm worried about him not getting a great grip on the ball and going flying. I also turn into him when he is a few fett away to present the tug and that causes him to slow down. I know that's generally a no no but in my book, for him it's a good thing. If I do one day decide to do flyball with havoc I'm probably going to have to come up with something different cause he is a bit kamikaze.

(Our first tournament is in two weeks, I'm getting pretty excited!)
 

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Sadly, I think my GSD is too wild for flyball. She gets way too excited about the other dogs running around.

In the meantime, I'm loving being able to run my team leaders green dog, a BC. We ran our first tournament together this past weekend, my first ever, and won our division! :) So I really appreciate a dog who can be run by someone else! It sure beats snagging balls all day long at a tournament! lol

My dog, if I could run her, I don't think she'd run for someone else, although I wouldn't have a problem with it. She's always checking to see where I am.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
How long have you been doing it? I think it's quite rare to have a dog that needs little work chasing other dogs or chasing loose balls. Nikon is almost 5 years old, has been competing for almost a year now, and still last week he tried to chase another dog. Most dogs get the box turn and the whole sequence within a month or two but for some dogs it literally takes years to overcome the urge to chase other dogs or chase balls. Even in tournaments you see seasoned dogs make mistakes. I saw a dog on a world record team interfere on another team several times in a row.
 
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