December 2011

4 – And the winner is…

The winner of the e-book Picking Your Performance Puppy is AnnaKarin Nordangård! I used an online random number generator to pick a winner. AnnaKarin is getting a new puppy in a few weeks, so I hope she’ll have some use for the book. This is the video that AnnaKarin picked as her favorite is this one:

I can’t believe it’s almost four years ago. Pi was just a puppy and we lived in another house in another country.

Talking about different countries, there is a lot of discussion in both Norway (Where Thomas is from, and where we used to live) and Sweden (where I’m from and where we live now) about how to best organize the sport of agility. I think that both countries need agility organizations that are associated with the Kennel Club, but still does it’s own thing and has a strong democracy where the agility handlers make the calls. There are a lot of decisions made about agility that I’m sure that most agility handlers don’t agree on. One of those decisions is that you from this year has to be a Norwegian citizen to compete in the Norwegian Championships (which, incidentally was won by a Finn living in Norway two years ago…). I’m glad that I’m not still living there. Another is that the Norwegian Championships are held at Norway’s biggest dog show – indoors on a carpet so bad that a lot of people chose not to come.

Things are not quite as bad in Sweden, but there is still a great need for more democracy here. Agility is run by the Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK), an organization that has a long and proud history of educating Swedes about dogs, breeding working dogs and organizing working trials and obedience trials. The Swedish Working Dog Association (SBK) is a part of the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK). I have been a member of SBK for over 15 years and have always been proud of the incredible tradition we have in this country. Every town has it’s own club with big green fields and nice house. But SBK and agility is not a good match. An organization that also deals with breeding certain breeds, organizing working trials, evaluating mentality in dogs and educating dogs for the military is just too big to rule over agility. We need more democracy and we need people concerned with agility making the decisions. I hope both Norway and Sweden will come to this solution soon.

If you read Scandinavian or if you’re good with translating texts online, here are some blog posts that talk about both problems and solutions:

3 – Picking a puppy

In yesterday’s blog, you have the chance to win an e-book about how to pick a puppy with good structure for dog sports. It got me thinking about how we pick puppies from a litter. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ve chosen all my puppies based on their looks. I just can’t help picking the puppy that looks in a certain way, and I just feel that the looks goes with the name I’ve picked for the puppy. I have tried to do it in another way, just listen to this:

I’ve planned to test the puppies and pick one based on the test. This is what I did when I picked Squid and I also asked Helen about what to look for structure-wise. There were three female pups and I got first pick. I wanted to see the puppies tug and they all did that well. Then I had one other test that I really believed in. It’s the reversed luring (or “it’s yer choice”) game. I presented a closed fist with treats inside it to one puppy at a time and looked at how they behaved. The first two puppies were excellent, behaving just like I wanted. They would try many different ways to get the treats and they did not give up. I’m not looking for a puppy that stays away from the hand too soon, I want them to be really intense and persistent. I think that this game shows that the puppy is willing to work for rewards and that he has some concentration and endurance. The third puppy was not like that. She sniffed the hand and walked away. That puppy was also the only one in that litter that was a Squid… So I ended up with her even though she failed at the only puppy test I really believe in. I still believe in it, because it was right about Squid. For the first 1,5-2 years she was really hard to train. She would fall asleep during shaping and give up if you used a non-reward marker. It was really, really hard to get her to do anything for any length of time. I’m still very happy that she is mine and at this time, you wouldn’t guess that she ever had those problems. She is a lot of fun to train, is very creative and persistent in shaping and can do obedience for long periods of time without rewards. She was just a very slow starter (and her sisters were not).

Very young Squid (to the left) with a brother, a sister and her mother Fly.

My next puppy was Epic and he is from our first own litter. I thought that having the puppies around you all the time for eight weeks would give you a lot of information and that I’d be able to make a good decision based on their personalities and structure. There were two male dogs in the litter and I picked Epic within two or three days, before he even had a personality… My choice was mostly based on the fact that he was black and white and his brother had some tan spots. Since I had Squid that is so much like mother Fly, I wanted to pick a puppy that was more like the father this time. Epic’s father is black and white and I think that was part of why I picked him. I believe that puppies that look a lot like a relative more often will have the same personality. I know this sounds weird and I’m not sure if it’s true (but it often seems so). Anyone that has any thoughts on this? I couldn’t be more happy with my choice, I love Epic so much.

Epic with a bulldog body at 3 weeks

This summer, Thomas lovely dog Jen had a litter of puppies and I was going to keep a female for herding and breeding. Since Jen is carrier of CEA, we decided to test all the puppies as soon as possible, so that we could chose a female puppy that was clear/normal and not have to worry about it in future breeding. But when the test came back, it turned out that both the black and white puppies were clear and the ones with tan were carriers. I knew I should keep a black and white female, but in the end I just had to pick one of the tan marked because she was clearly “Seven” (the litter has a Star Trek-theme).

Then Thomas fell in love with one of the male puppies and kept him (also a carrier…) and I didn’t feel like having a puppy at all. So Sarek has stayed with Thomas and Seven moved to Stockholm on breeding terms and is now called “Twix”. It didn’t turn out at all like I had planned and I have no idea how it will end (which of the female puppies I’d most like to breed from when they are grown) but I do have a good feeling about my choice anyway. I met Seven/Twix a few weeks ago and I just loved her personality so much. She’s also still very pretty, but I don’t know what Helen would say about this body at five months 😀

Photo borrowed from Emelie Briding. I think this is a really unflattering picture and I’m sure she’ll look great when she’s grown. This is just too funny. 

Seven/Twix at 7 weeks

2 – Picking Your Performance Puppy

I’m not a great fan of conformation dog shows, but I am interested in understanding the effect that structure has on a dogs movements and performance. I met Helen King in Florida a few years ago and was impressed by her knowledge of structure and how it relates to for example agility and herding. As a trainer and breeder, I’m always looking to know more so that I can help my dogs be the best they can be and maybe help people pick the puppy that best suits them in a litter (I don’t think I could do that for myself though, I pick with my heart and not my head once I’ve decided on a litter).

Last week I bought Helens new e-book “Picking Your Performance Puppy” and I liked it so much that I asked Helen if she would give a book away to a reader of this blog. Helen was happy to do that, so we’ll have a little contest in the blog, where the prize is a copy of Helens e-book. To enter the contest, write a comment below where you tell us what your favorite video on our YouTube channel is, and why. Please include the link to the video so that everybody can see and try to write in English! We’ll randomly select one lucky winner among the comments. Please remember to include your e-mail address so that we can contact you on Sunday 4th when we’re drawing a winner.

If you don’t win, you can buy your copy on

Advent Calendar 2011

Count down the days until Christmas with Fanny and Thomas at We will share training tips, videos, recommend products we like and share stories about what’s happening here at the farm.

Today is the first day of December and I have embarked on my count down project – trying one new form of work out or training every day. This is probably my biggest weakness as an agility handler – I hate working out… I can train dogs for hours, but not my self. Trying one new thing every day will hopefully be a fun (and painful) experience and I won’t risk getting tired of anything. Maybe I’ll find a way to work out that I actually like. Today, I did the only thing I kind of know how to do – jogging. Shejpa and I went for an hour run and it wasn’t that bad… What kind of work outs do you like? Recommend them to me and I’ll try to get the chance to try them before Christmas.

I will keep you updated on my project, but this blog will mainly focus on dog training for the next 25 days. Today, I will share a video that shows two exercises that I use on my dogs to increase their strength as well as their understanding of criteria for stand, sit and down. Many things that we want our dogs to do, like a balanced sit with back feet under the body, standing absolutely still for a longer time or lying down without shifting weight to one side requires strength from the dog. This strength can be trained gradually by some easy exercises like the ones I show in the video. Working on an exercise ball is also great for increased strength. I do stand, sit and down on the exercise ball and work on the dog holding his feet still for gradually longer repetitions.