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Squid and Wilco winning

August has been very busy for us! Thomas has been travelling around Denmark, Norway, and Sweden teaching (and last week hunting with Pax, Alot and Kat). I’ve been on a 10 day road trip around the south of Sweden with Squid, Epic, Wilco and Bud. We started in Kungsbacka with agility trials. It’s unusual to be able to compete at all levels in the same competition, so I combined visiting my parents with my first trial with all three dogs. Wilco did mostly well in his four runs. One jumpers class with just one bar. In agility class, he ran past the dogwalk on the first try in both runs. We also had some weave refusals. He needs much more training before he’ll be ready to perform consistently, but he seems to learn good things from every run, so I think it’s nice to let him play too. Epic ran well, but had bars fall in all four runs. Squid had a great weekend. She ran clean in both agility runs, placing first on Saturday and third on Sunday (very slow seesaw where she didn’t respond to my release). She had one bar in jumpers on Saturday, but set the fastest time. On Sunday she surprisingly missed the weave entry. Here’s a video of three of her runs:

We stayed on the road the next week – training agility and/or herding every day and meeting new and old friends on the way. The weather was great and we learned new things. On the weekend, Wilco was entered in four class 1 runs per day. The first day, he seemed very tired and slightly distracted. Maybe a week on the road had taken his toll on him? We decided to sleep in on Sunday and missed our first run. He ran great in the first agility run – nailed both weaves and the dogwalk on the first try. His seesaw is not that great yet, so he ran past it on the first try. He ended up fifth with a refusal. The jumpers course was easy and fast, and he did great! I did not expect him to win (there are so many very fast dogs in class 1!), but he did. First clean run and first win!

We really have a lot of training to do still, and I don’t expect him to be competitive right now. He’s still very much figuring things out and learning to use his body. The most important thing is that he is having fun when we go to trials, and that he is learning good things. I love that he is so friendly to everybody, and that he doesn’t get wound up by watching other dogs run. I was not happy about the runs where he seemed tired and distracted (the last run on Sunday was unfortunately a bit like that too – he didn’t want to play afterwards). This was a new experience for us, and I need to have a better plan if it happens again. Bringing a toy in the ring and rewarding something simple might be a better idea, but mostly I need to make sure that he is rested and ready.

Wilco’s Agility Debut

Wilco turned 18 months a week ago, and he is starting to become an agility dog. I have been moving very slowly with him, since he’s been very immature in both body and mind. I waited and waited for him to feel mature enough to do contacts and weaves, but then at 16 months I decided to just try it anyway. I was not planning to do any trials with him until next year, but then things went well and I felt like it might be fun and good for him to get out and do some trials. It was a little crazy, but I entered him in 8 class 1 runs on the weekend just after his 18 month birthday.

He does not know everything he needs to know to be successful and consistent in competition. He just learned how to weave, and needs a lot more confidence, understanding and experience on that. His seesaw wasn’t finished, and he hadn’t seen a flat tunnel more than twice in his life. I was not planning on winning any ribbons – just having fun and giving my young dog the best possible experience in a trial situation. And WOW – we did have a lot of fun! I can’t remember when I had so much fun at a trial before.

Wilco really tried his best. He seemed to learn things from every run and improved a lot. He was happy and I was happy. He is such an easy dog to manage outside the ring. Friendly with everybody, calm and not at all interested in other dogs running agility. He just wanted to have fun with me. He ran past the dogwalk on the first attempt on both days, but was happy to take it on the second run of the day. He hit all his down contacts on both dogwalk and a-frame. He did have trouble with weaves on the first day, but on the fourth run he got it right on the first try. On the second day, he surprised me by not making a single mistake in weaves. He even ran one standard agility run with only one mistake – a dropped bar between seesaw and weaves.

Bud came along and got to train and socialise around the agility ring. He was also very, very relaxed and well behaved. I love my boys!

Here’s a video with some clips from Wilco’s first weekend of competing:

All three dogs (Squid, Epic and Wilco) will be competing this weekend. Two runs each both days. It will be intense, but fun!

Wilco’s Seesaw Started

I started training Wilco’s seesaw just last week. My seesaw has been broken, but Thomas fixed it with some carpet. Like I mentioned before, I was planning on teaching a 2 on 2 off behavior, but it took more time than I had thought to get a good behavior. Thomas played around with Wilco on the end of the seesaw, and got nice 2o20 with a nose touch, so I decided to stick with that. I’m surprised how much drive Wilco has for the nose touch, considering we haven’t done much of it at all, and none since winter. I’ve worked on it for a few days and now added some height to the end behavior:

We also tried the end of the seesaw at the local club today, and that went just as well as at home. My club has a Smart99 dogwalk, so we tried that for Wilco’s first dogwalk away from the one at home. Once he figured out what we were doing, he was perfect!

Stay at station with distractions

We’re having some lovely summer weeks at home with friends visiting and a lot of dog training. Wilco is learning so many new things (dogwalk, seesaw, a-frame, weaves…), Epic and Squid are perfecting skills, and Bud is working on foundation skills and hanging around new people and new dogs.

I also find opportunities to train him when doing other things. My dogs love licking the dirty plates in the dishwasher, so I’ve started to use that as a distraction for his stay at station. It also has the benefit of letting me load the dishwasher without someone rearranging the plates…

This is of course not a very interesting video, but I wanted to share it to show how you can incorporate dog training in everyday life, while also making life a little easier for yourself.

Teaching your dog to go to a station on cue, and stay there with distractions until released, is one of many things covered in our Foundation Class, starting on July 27th.

Bud and I in the morning

RC Progression

Here’s another update on Wilco’s running contacts. Yesterday, we worked on turning to me and running straight to the tunnel in the same session:

I’m so excited about his progress with the dogwalk. I’m also very happy about his weaving. I need to control myself and train some handling tonight instead. And I started shaping a 2o2o for the seesaw today. Just shaping him to step down from a sofa cushion and face forward to get a reward. I will then transition it to a box outdoors and add some speed and handler motion. From there, I’ll transfer it to the end of the seesaw.

Wilco’s dogwalk and weaves

Wilco turned 17 months old today. We’re having a lot of fun with learning running contacts, weaves and handling. His progression on the running contacts last week was amazing. We went from 30 cm to 120 cm in just two days of training. Then we took a break for four days while I was away with the older dogs. Today, I decided to try some soft turns off the dogwalk. Mostly because I was too lazy to set up the tunnel for straight exits. And because I was excited to know what he would do with the turning. I used a pole at the end of the dogwalk so that he wouldn’t come off the side. I used “jajaja” as a cue for soft turns/attention (follow me), and I rewarded from my hand if he met criteria. He wasn’t always perfect, but had some really nice hits!

We’re also working on weaves. I started teaching him to find the entry on a set of two poles. Then I borrowed this channel weave set from a friend, because I felt like I wanted to go to 12 poles much earlier than I’ve done with the older dogs (taught by the 2×2 method). This is pretty much like the 2×2 method, just with six sets of two from much earlier on in training. Tonight was the first session where I rewarded from my hand (instead of throwing ahead) and where I tried to teach him to stay in the poles even when I move in front. He learns so quickly!

What about Wilco?

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.

Bud 6 months

Bud just turned 6 months, but he still feels like a little puppy both physically and mentally. We’re having a lot of fun training and growing our relationship.

Here’s a video of some things we worked on yesterday. I focus a lot on stimulus control, and it feels like he’s starting to chose correctly most of the time. I’ve mostly worked on “stand” and “sit”. Sit was his first position, and it’s his strongest cue (besides his name). I’ve been working on the jumping stand on cue and thrown in sits often enough for him to be open to another cue, but not so often that he forgets about standing. Now it seems “stand” and “sit” are fairly equal and I don’t have to be so tactical for him to be right. I’ve also introduced cues for coming to heel position at both sides. My left side is called “fot” (Swedish heel cue) and my right side is called “på plass” (Norwegian). “Fot” is stronger at the moment, and I could use it in this stimulus control session and he did it! “På plass” did not work, so I need to remember to work him just as much on my right side as on my left.

The video also contains a session of backing up (first one with me standing up) and heeling on both sides. I don’t plan on doing any obedience trials with Bud, but the foundation for obedience and agility is very much alike to me. I work on stimulus control, body awareness, play, toy retrieve, heeling, holding positions and driving to me fast. I don’t think I change that much depending on the sport I want to do in the future, and I think Bud will have excellent obedience foundations if I decide I want to do obedience too.

Left turns

Just a short clip of Bud from yesterday. He did have some experience with turning on a perch from before, but yesterday I decided to just try to shape him to my side. I’ve been working on both right and left side, but more on the left, so right will be my focus for today. I’m very pleased with the progression and I’m excited to work some more on his heeling. I don’t plan on doing any obedience with Bud, but heeling is such a great skill to have for agility, body awareness and every day life that I still want to teach it.

Another video of Bud

Summer seems to finally be here. It’s been a perfect day with sun and not much wind. I don’t like it too hot, and today was perfect. Thomas left early this morning to teach in Finland, so I’m home alone with all the dogs (plus two of my friend’s dogs). I get plenty of exercise…

Wilco and Bud

Wilco and Bud

Bud and I had a few fun sessions outdoors tonight. This video is way too long, but I really think it shows a lot of his personality. First, we played with two toys. He quickly learned to switch between toys on “ja!”, and today I wanted to try to throw one toy away and get him to play with another toy. This is an important foundation skill that comes handy in many other exercises later on. I thought the floppy, fleecy toy would be more fun than the hard rubber toy (especially since he’s shedding teeth like crazy). I was wrong!

He’s learned jumping stand and I’ve started to add a cue to it. He doesn’t know to hold his position, but I’ve still named the motion. He seems to know “sit” fairly well, so I add that in sometimes when working on new cues, to makes sure he’s listening to what I’m saying. He nailed it today! We also worked on “sit” in higher arousal, when he was ready to tug and/or chase me.

Finally, we had our first session on shaping down. He was a bit tired in this session, so he started by offering a few very relaxed downs. In the last part of the (3 minute) session, he offered nice fold back downs.