Sun in the south

On Monday, we headed south after a weekend with obedience in Onigo (c on the map). I split the trip in two and drove to a B&B outside Ancona (D), where we spent the night to Tuesday. I came there at dusk, and it was very foggy, so I didn’t get to see much of the very beautiful surroundings. I wend to the village of Offagna for dinner, and I think it’s a beautiful village with a medieval fortress at the top of a hill. I couldn’t see much due to the fog, but I got a good view from a distance when we left the B&B in the morning, and the air was clear.

Onigo, Ancona, Bari

Before we headed south again, I drove to the ocean and took the dogs for a morning walk on the beach. It was amazingly nice for both the dogs and me.

Morning on the beach

The drive to Bari (E) went well and the view over the ocean and the rolling hills in the sun was very nice! Last part of the drive was very straight and flat with almost no traffic, so driving was easy and fast. We were met by Pasquale as soon as we exited the highway, and he led the way to their place. Nice service! We live in a camper next to the house. Here’s also a boarding kennel and three training areas. There’s one full size agility field, one smaller agility field, and a small area for pet classes. All fenced. They have classes here in the evenings, so there’s a lot of people and dogs coming and going, and the dogs in the kennels bark a lot. There’s not a lot of space. This is perfect for us! We’re so used to training on our own with no distractions. My dogs are not used to this kind of environment, and I think they will be so much more cool with things after this experience. They already seem much less bothered by dogs fence fighting and barking at them.

Olive trees

Last night, I took the dogs out and trained them next to the agility field while there was a class going on. I was surprised how well they both worked in a brand new environment, with a lot of barking dogs and new people. Today, we’ve had two sessions on the agility field. My dogs haven’t done agility in many months because of rehab, so we’re taking it easy. All three of us are very happy to be running a bit of agility again! I was happy to train in the sun, and even had to take my sweater of. The dogs were clearly not used to 15+ and sun, and wanted to go in the shade when they had a break.

Seeking shade

The biggest challenge is to find somewhere to walk the dogs. I don’t think anyone here walks their dog outside of the property. I did find a nice walk yesterday (once we passed the neighbor’s barking dogs behind the fence), but it felt a bit like trespassing on private ground (even though we kept to the road). I also heard that there might be groups of stray dogs there, and I don’t feel like meeting them with my dogs. Well. I have to find a way to walk the dogs and to warm them up before exercise.

Another challenge is that Squid came into heat already on the ferry a week ago. So far I don’t have any problems with it, even though I can’t leave her and Epic alone at any time. It will get worse during this week though, and I don’t have much room in the camper to keep them separated. If I hadn’t checked and seen blood, I wouldn’t have known that she was in heat. I haven’t seen a single drop of blood on the floor after I checked her, and Epic is not very interested in her.

In Italy

Sorry that I haven’t written more about our Italian adventure. Driving the 2000 kilometers here went very well (I loved the German Autobahn!), but it was intense and tiring. I also had a cold, and when I finally got here, I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed and sleep. I had a fever, aching body and a very runny nose. A day in bed did good, and today I’ve been feeling much better. Which was good, since I had my first day of seminars today. A very good day, and I’m so happy to have my dogs with me so that I can show things!


A map of our trip so far.

My first time in Poland

I’m getting ready to leave Poland after my first seminar here. It’s been two great days with very ambitious and driven trainers. Many of them already use the principles and techniques that I do, and they do it great. They get inspiration from YouTube videos and blogs (and lately also seminars with Scandinavian trainers). I love how the internet makes distance irrelevant in many ways. Our online classes in English is so much fun, because it allows us to work with students from all over the world who like our style of training. I hope to see more Polish trainers in our classes in the future.

Polish training area – cool but COLD!

A dream that I have would be to invite to an international obedience camp at our place. Everything in English. Please let me know if you’re interested in this. I’d love to organize it if we get enough international participants. Until then, we’ll just have to meet online and when I’m teaching abroad. I love meeting international students on seminars like this, but it also takes much time. I instructed on Friday and Saturday, but I had to leave home on Wednesday night and won’t be home until late Sunday night, so four full days away from my home for two days of teaching.

I’m very inspired to train obedience. Both with Squid, who just needs more training time to be a great obedience dog, and with my new puppy later this year. I am surprisingly happy with most things that I’ve taught Squid, even though it was five years ago. There are some things that i definitely will do differently, mostly related to heeling. The challenge is not to change and do things that you’re not happy with better. The challenge is to remember all the things you did that made your older dog great, and not take them for granted.

Planning for Italy

After a mild and nice December, snow came at last two weeks ago. Although snow makes it lighter outdoors and cleaner indoors, I prefer to be able to train my dogs outdoors, and to be able to easily walk in the woods with them. We don’t have a good indoor arena close to out home. We have the riding facility just 5 minutes away, but it’s cold and the footing is very heavy and soft. To get to a nice, clean heated arena with decent footing, we need to travel for more than an hour. It’s often worth it, but can’t be done very often. This winter we’ve been there a few times to shoot video for our online classes. We do get time for some more training as well, here is for example some obedience sequences with Squid from Monday:

It’s so much fun to finally be able to do some serious training with Squid again. She’s not quite ready for much agility yet (have started to work on some jump grids), but I do let her run, stop and play in obedience now. I’ve finally found a physiotherapist that I trust and who really makes a difference in my dogs. Epic looks really, really good now after four sessions with her during the past five months. Squid has had two sessions this winter and we’re very hopeful about her full recovery. She does look awkward when jumping right now, but Epic did too after his second session and I was really worried. He does look very good now though, so I just need to have patience. At least I have a lot of obedience to train with Squid! And agility skills that doesn’t require a lot of jumping.

It’s only six days before I leave for Italy with my two dogs, where I’ll spend a month teaching, training and exploring. I’m excited, but very nervous. A long drive, a foreign country and a long time away from home. How will I be able to fit my whole life into my car? How will my dogs cope with going from farm dogs to experiencing new things every day (It’ll probably be very, very good for them)? What will we eat? What should I pack? Can I manage without knowing the language? What will I do when Squid comes into heat? She hasn’t been in heat since having puppies, and it should be about now. That can get interesting with an intact male with us. I think he’ll do okay, but I have no idea about how Italian dogs handle it. It’ll be an adventure for sure.

Before driving to Italy, I have two days of teaching in Poland. I leave tomorrow morning and come back on Sunday night, so I don’t have many hours left in my house. I’ve never been to Poland, so it’ll be a fun experience.


We’ve spent a wonderful week in Wales with Jen, Win and Squid. It’s been a long time since Thomas and I traveled together and I’m very glad that we did. Our main reason for coming here was to breed Win (Epic’s sister) to Kinloch Cian. It looked like the weather would be really bad here, but we’ve had a week of mostly sun. I’m so lucky with the weather this fall. It seems like the sun comes out wherever I go. We’re probably not as fortunate when we get home. It’s been snowing and it seems like it will stay cold. I don’t mind snow, except we can’t do much herding when everything’s covered with it. And that’s terrible right now since this week has brought so much inspiration.

We’ve trained on the hills in the sun and all three dogs have gained both skill and experience. Our male dogs had to stay at home as their rabies vaccination was too recent, but I guess they’re better off at home than in a car/cottage with Win in full heat. Today, we watched the South Wales Nursery Final which was very interesting. Yesterday, we were lucky enough to get to watch some field training with a really good cocker spaniel handler and trainer. Also very inspiring and interesting.

Teaching in Ohio

I’m on my way back from almost two weeks in the U.S. The main purpose of my trip was to teach at PosiDog in Columbus, Ohio, but I also had time to see family in both Washington D.C and in North Carolina. I’ve also enjoyed the sun and mild weather, as Sweden in November is usually dark, cold and wet.

Teaching in Ohio was a lot of fun. We worked on obedience for five days and it was great to have so much time to make sure that everybody was making progress and had a plan of action before I left. Most of the teams that worked in the seminar have signed up for working spots in our new online Foundation Class starting later this week. I really look forward to that. Online teaching is really perfect for students living far away, especially when it can be combined with some real life coaching once in a while.

One subject that we talked about a lot was shaping. I love shaping and use it to teach the vast majority of behaviors that I use for obedience. If shaping feels like a bad idea, it’s usually only because I still haven’t found the right way to shape it yet. I know that many clicker trainers don’t shape a lot of behaviors and that it is sometimes frowned upon and considered too complicated or time consuming. I really don’t think it is and I have a lot of reasons why I like to use shaping. We’ve listed them all in our book “Shaping” that was published in August, but since the book only can be read in Swedish at the moment, I will list some of the reasons why I chose shaping in the blog, so keep your eyes open for that.

I really look forward to seeing my own dogs again. They’ve been in good hands while I’ve been gone, but I think they are a bit bored by now and very ready to work. I am too, even though I just missed a night of sleep going east over the Atlantic.

At the airport

More cold, sunny days in Norway. Yesterday, Squid and I visited the local airport. We will be flying to Bergen next week, where we will join Thomas for two days of teaching. I’m looking forward to bringing the puppy to new places and new experiences (like living in a hotel), but I am also nervous about her firs flight in cargo. All my experiences with flying dogs have been good (and we’ve been flying a lot the last couple of years), but I’ve never flew with such a young puppy. I tell myself that a lot of puppies fly every day and they are usually not as confident and not as well socialized and crate gamed and experienced with the world as my puppy. She’ll be fine!

We’re preparing by going to the airport, playing crate games and having fun. I’ve also done more training on being alone in the crate than I have done before (she’s pretty much around me all of the time). I left her for short periods of time at the airport when she had settled in her crate and I have also left her alone in the crate at home just for training. She is a fast learner and relaxes in her crate. I have also worked on lifting the crate off and onto baggage carts etc. with her in it. That wasn’t her favourite thing (after too many, she was hesitant to jump into the crate on the baggage cart) so we’ll work some more on that at home.

We also did some obedience and trick training at the airport and she did great. She has great focus even with distractions and in a new environment. She was also really good at giving me attention when people came up to us to say hi. And then, when I gave her the cue “go see”, she spun around and said hi in her usuall, happy way.

Playing with her tail at home

It’s good to be home

I had a very good time teaching in Edmonton, but it sure is nice to be back home and able to train my own dogs. I have trained a lot with both Shejpa and Missy today. We went to a new club i the morning to try our running dogwalks on a new kind of equipment (aluminium frame with carpet). My dogs have only done their running dogwalks on our wooden dogwalk at home. I was surprised with how it didn’t really seem to matter. Even Missy, who usually isn’t very confident, ran it fast and consistent right from the second attempt. Shejpa was even better and showed great understanding even when she slowed down a little (she is always best when she is really fast). Shejpa also got to try a new seesaw. She isn’t doing the whole seesaw yet, but she is learning fast and we should be able to do the whole thing in a couple of days. She shows great speed, weigh shift and targeting.

We did some more training later in the afternoon. Both dogs got to do some jump grids. I introduced Shejpa to the long jump and put it into her distance grid later. She had no problems with it, so I will put it into sequencing pretty soon. I also introduced a pole in the ground to help her turn after her running contacts. It might clarify things for her, so I will give it a shot. Justine had tried it with Preston and it looked great. I might try it with Missy too, although she seems to have more understanding of the turns and will think more than Shejpa. I did some shaping with both dogs in the house as well. Missy now knows how to jump into my arms when I stand up (Thanks J!) and both dogs did shaping sessions on the theraball. They have amazing balance and strenght!

Thanks to Justine and all the nice people I met in Edmonton. I had a great time and it was really interesting to see dog training from new perspectives. It was fun teaching european style obedience to an enthusiastic crowd of dogs and owners. I hope that they will keep up with the tugging and high speed training that we did. It was also fun to do a puppy day and I am looking forward to getting my next puppy. Handling is always one of my favourite things to teach and I was happy to see so many that were dedicated to doing agility within Greg Derrett’s system of handling.

Canada in a short summary

We’re back home after ten intense days in Canada. We learned a lot and made new friends. Shejpa is a great dog to travel with. The vet at the airport in Norway even asked if she was on calming drugs, because she was just sleeping in her crate while we were waiting. I guess a lot of dogs are more worried about flying and waiting at airports.

The first two days was Greg Derrett’s master camp and I was just watching. It was very interesting, but you get more confused the more you learn, that’s for sure. Greg and Susan does not agree on everything and that leaves me in a spot where I have to make some descisions… I left Greg, Susan and the rest of them on their own on the third day, because Shejpa and I got a spot at Laura Derrett’s work shop. It was fun to run, but Shejpa got tired very quickly in the hot weather. It doesn’t look too bad when I watch the videos, but some runs felt like she was jogging. I think I did a pretty good job though, and sometimes it’s better to be slow and correct (as a handler learning) than to do it fast and sloppy.

Greg and Laura went back to England and we carried on for four more days with Tweener Camp. We did a lot of things and Shejpa was mostly a good dog with quite a lot of drive. She liked the sheep skin tug toy and we bought a few nice toys to bring back home. I tried them on Pi today and she was thrilled. We did quite a lot of work on the nose touches, but we didn’t come as far as I had hoped. I realized that we weren’t quite finished with fading the target and worked a lot on that. She’s generally good when I take the target away after one or two repetitions, but when we start with no target, she’s uncertain on where to put her nose touches and tends to curl into me on the stairs. We made great progress and one of the things we did was to place lots of targets around the stairs, but out of her reach, to proof that she was targeting straight anyway.

Shejpa relaxing in her crate

Shejpa relaxing in her crate

We also worked a lot on a hot target discrimination (much like the one you do at chicken camp). I chose quite difficult objects that rolled away if she wasn’t thoughtful and controlled. I liked that idea, but I guess it slowed us down a bit. She indicated the hot target (chapstick tube) by laying down with the target between her front legs. I thought the discrimination part would be easy, but Shejpa behaved much like the chicken at chicken camp – throwing themselves at a target that you drop or peck at. We did work through it and I think it was a great experience for both of us. Shejpa really needs a lot of shaping (wich I have neglected with her) and challenges that forces her to be more thoughtful. Some people will tell you that shaping makes dogs frantic and stressed, but I would say it’s the other way around if you do it right. Shejpa is getting more and more calm and thoughtful for every session of shaping.

Susan and DeCaff

Susan and DeCaff

Bob Bailey came to Say Yes on the last day. We were eight people (mostly Susan’s instructors and Susan her self) working our dogs and talking (a lot of talking, really) with Bob helping out. It was a great experience and I’m very thankful for being invited! I also drove Bob to the airport and got a chance to really talk to him about the 80% rule that has been kind of misunderstood in Scandinavia. I got great information from him. This is my own summary of what he said (and I hope I got it all right):

– When the animal is successfull 80% of the time, you should raise your criteria.
– It’s a common misstake to not challenge the animal enough in training
– 90% success is definatly a misstake
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re not progressing (not getting a higher percentage of correct responses) in three consecutive sessions.
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re getting worse (getting a lower percentage of correct responses) in two consecutive sessions.
– You shouldn’t worry about not getting 80% success as long as it’s getting better and better, but don’t raise your criteria until you’re getting closer to 80%.
– How low your success rate can be is dependent on if the animal still thinks it’s worthwhile to keep trying. Bob thought that 50% was kind of a limit for a lot of animals.
– These principles are worked out by gathering data from a lot of training sessions with a lot of different animals and it worked great for Bob and his trainers.

You can fins lots of pictures from our trip in the gallery (click on “photos” above). I’d like to thank Susan for another fun trip across the Atlantic and Justine for being a great room mate. Also, congratulations to Justine, Lynda and Susan for making the FCI world team!