I’m sure some of you are thinking – What about Wilco? I’ve written a lot about Bud lately, but Wilco is actually the dog getting most of the training right now. He’s still very childish, but things are starting to come together. I’ve been waiting for him to mature before starting on contacts and weaves. He’s 16 months old now and I wanted to try to start teaching him weaving and running contacts. I’m so glad that I waited! Even though he still is far from grown up, he seems to be ready to learn and most importantly – he’s ready to fail. All the foundation we’ve worked on is paying off. I started him on two weave poles 3 weeks ago. He quickly understood to find the entry, and I decided to go with channel weaves from there on. I borrowed a set of channel weaves from a friend. (This kind – it’s not really the way I’d want it, but it was accessible, and I like it more now that I’ve tried it). I still have it open to a point where he can almost run straight, but definitely need to collect to go through when sent from an angle. We’re working all kinds of entries with jumps and tunnels before.
Two weeks ago, I decided to at least try some running contact training. I was not very optimistic, as Wilco is still very bouncy and childish in his movements. It went much better than expected, and the foundation that I’ve done seems to really help! Today, we went from the lowest dogwalk (35 cm) to 80 cm, because the lower heights only got us front feet hits (or three stride misses). He’s running to a tunnel, and I’m throwing a toy after the tunnel if I like the performance enough to click. I really, really love how he keeps driving forward even when I don’t reward a few tries. He has much more forward drive than I thought he did, and he seems to also learn and adjust from failures. Running contacts heaven is a nice place to visit! Here are some repetitions from his first two sessions on 80 cm.
We’re also working on handling on jumps and tunnels, and he is doing great. He hasn’t found the fastest gear yet, but he has a big and efficient stride, tight turns and a will to understand. I’m very excited to see what he will become in a year or so.