May 2008

Congratulations Susan!

Congratulations to Susan Garrett, DeCaff and Encore for five medals at IFCS world championships in Belgium this weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing Susan and Encore at FCI world championships in Helsinki in september. You can find results here.

Some pictures from our weekend can be found in the gallery

Being shaped by a cocker

As a puppy, Shejpa would always run away from me when she got a toy in her mouth. Her behavior has improved since then and she usually gets praise for her nice retrieves from the field trial people. However, during the last couple of weeks, she has started to run away with toys that i throw for her or let her win during a game of tug. It wasn’t all that bad at first, I could usually get her to come if i called her, and sometimes I just had to wait a little longer… But then it got worse, and yesterday, she wouldn’t even come to me with a boring toy and trade it for chicken necks. I suddenly realized that her reinforcement didn’t come from running around with the toy, but from my reactions. I think this is very common and we often don’t even stop and think about it, because we’re so into getting the toy back and running the sequence again. The behavior gets even worse and then we stop throwing toys to avoid the behavior…

When I realized this, it took me about five minutes to fix it. I wish I had been wize enough to take action the first time she ran off with the toy, but I often do whats the most reinforcing right now (getting the toy back so that I can run some more agility) just like the dogs. How did i fix it? Well. I had my tasty chicken necks (that Shejpa really loves) and I gave her an easy task: Give the toy back to me when I let you win it during tug. She failed. So I went to Pax, our german pointer that was resting on the field, and I gave him her chicken necks. She came back and I put her back in her crate while i did some training with Pax. I wanted her to leave me. I didn’t care about what she did once she got the toy. Her toy was of no interest to me, but I had the chicken necks and I really like to feed it to the bearded dog if she isn’t around… After a few repetitions, she started to give me the toy right away (and got fed for it, of course), so I challenged her some more by throwing the toy to her during agility. She came right back to me! I couldn’t get her to not come straight to me every time. I’m curious about what she’ll do in training today, but I’m sure that I’ll bring another dog out with me.

“Dog’s are better at shaping people than people are at shaping dogs”
Susan Garrett

Agility class and late night training

The weather here in Norway is still absolutely wonderful. We had agility foundations class tonight and it was the first time with the dogs (did the theory indoors last week). We’ve got three border collies (I don’t think we’ve ever had that many border collies in a class before), a mudi, a kelpie and a field bred golden (who unfortunatley couldn’t come tonight) in this class. We did circle work, rear end awareness on perch, hand/nose touches, value for one jump and a set point exercise tonight. The dogs all worked really well and I think we can progress fast with this group. Shejpa got to to demos in class tonight, I think she appreciated that after a boring day.

I took Missy out late at night (it’s wonderful when you can do training in daylight at 10 pm) and did some training. She did a few jumps in the Salo Spider (set point exercise) and was perfect. Then I added some excitment (“ready… steady…” and a step forward as i released her) and she crashed into the bar twice. She kept the bar up the third and fourth time, but we should really start adding some movement and excitement to her jump training. Missy also worked on turning tight over a jump, something that takes time to get fluent with speed and height. We’re currently working pretty close to the jump with a low bar. My movement is the biggest challenge here as well. Missy’s circle work is getting pretty good and I think that will help on her jumping as well. We also did some nose targeting on the stairs and worked on her stimulus control (stand, sit and down while heeling) with the toy out. She did well.

Here are some lovely photos that one of my students took this weekend

Shejpa driving into target position
Pi retrieving her toy
Shejpa catching a treat
Missy and Fanny

Nice weekend

It’s been a very sunny and nice weekend. The house has been full of people since we’ve done a workshop and had students staying here. We had a nice dinner outside yesterday and we did training outside until 9.30 pm today and it was still light and warm. We’ve had lots of time to train our own dogs as well and with three dogs entered in obedience trials in may, we have some work to do. Pi (english setter, 11 months) is doing her first obedience competitions, Pavlov (border collie, 2 years, Thomas’ dog) is doing his second competition, this time in the second class and Missy (border collie, 4 years in a few days) is in the highest class, called elite. With a lot of dogs around, we’ve been able to do many long downs with strange dogs, wich is a good experience for our young dogs.

I took Pi to the woods this evening, and we worked on the retrieve and on some tricks (to improve her concentration for work in more challenging situations). Her retrieve was great and she really reminds me of a field bred retriever some times. She was very obedient and excited about her work tonight. We ended on our training field with some obedience excercises where I put her favourite food in a bowl and rewarded her with a send to the bowl when she worked well for a while.

Pi is in heat right now and our males are very interested in her. We always use the opportunity to do It’s Yer Choice with the male dogs, so Pax had to make some challenging retrieves in order to get the chance to sniff the pretty white lady. No problem with controlling the males around bitches in heat here, they just work even harder to maybe get the chance to go see.

We also got our little pool up this weekend. Missy and Pavlov went for their first swim this year. They really love swimming and I hope that I can use the pool to get them in better shape this summer.


There are more new photos from this weekend in the gallery