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Video of Alot, 4 months

We’ve been travelling a bit in the past week. First, we went to the west coast for herding trials. My parents live close by the , so we could stay there and spend some time with them. I also had time to visit my elderly grandparents (94 and soon 98 years old!) in Gothenburg. My grandmother just moved into a retirement home, and seemed genuinely very happy with that. My grandfather is still in their old apartment, waiting for an apartment to open in the same home. Herding trials were difficult, but Thomas managed to get a decent placement with Sarek on Saturday (8th out of 61 dogs), which gave him some points towards national championships.

Bud seems to get better and better with travelling. He’s been very car sick and has almost panicked when being put in the car. A combination of a bigger dose of meklozin, age and more exposure seems to have helped. He still doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t throw up and he sometimes even jumps in the crate on his own with some bribing. He was very good at my parents house, where he had to stay with the grown up dogs in the laundry room. He was quiet and relaxed all the time and slept all night.

Weather has been unusually cold for the past month. It has been the coldest May in 50 years, and June hasn’t started much better. It’s either cold and rainy, or sunny and very windy. This is what my agility field looks like most of the time:

Windy...

Yesterday, I shot some video of Thomas training Alot. She is 4 months old and looks really nice. She has a lot of own opinions and is very forward. At the same time, she is very focused on her work and learns very quickly. In this video, Thomas is working on some retrieving (he started with having her take the dummy to get sent to a bowl of food, then we tried having her take it from me and run to Thomas for the first time. It was hard to handle dog, dummy and camera at the same time… I’m very impressed with Alot’s heeling. I wish my dogs were heeling that nicely! She also has an impressive sit when she’s distracted by other things (my dogs, in this case).

Do you want to work on the skills that Alot shows in the video and learn more about how to build great rewards and structure your training sessions and daily life to build a great relationship with your dog?

Check out Relationship building online starting July 27th.

Bud learning to wait for his turn

This morning, I made plans to show some video on how I work with Bud on him waiting for his turn in training. This is something that I get a lot of questions on, and something that usually isn’t much of a problem around here. At least not when it comes to training in the house (self control around agility handling training can be more difficult).

In the first session, I tried setting up a training situation where he got to work on his stay-at-station behavior with some other dogs around. Kat and Alot LOVES the dog beds and you have to drag them away from there if they think there’s food, so they were good dogs to include in the session. Bud has had some sessions on the station behavior, but we haven’t done that much in formal sessions. I got frustrated because he would get up and leave the bed and then get back in it quite often during this session. We obviously need to work more on clarifying criteria in formal sessions. At other times, when I’m working on the computer (and want some peace and quiet) for example, he’s really good at staying in his bed for longer periods of time and it often ends with him falling asleep.

So for my second session, I decided to not “train” Bud at all. I would direct all my attention to Squid, and let Bud to whatever he wanted to do. This is how training often is done around this house. I don’t tell the other dogs to get out of the way, they know to mind their own business when I’m training another dog because thats the only way they’ll get rewarded. So I just made sure there was a bed nearby, and then I trained Squid (Very poorly, as you’ll see in the video. I didn’t have a plan for anything we did…). When he was in the bed, I gave him food. If he got up, I just kept ignoring him until he went back. I was much more pleased with this session. He still had some failures, but they were much less frustrating when I never asked him to stay in bed in the first place…

Bud trying the platform

Yesterday I decided to start some body awareness exercises with Bud. I have shaped some backing up (he got it very quickly!) before, and shaped him to put front feet on a perch for rear end awareness (as seen in the last video). He’s also been rewarded for putting all four feet on a dog bed.

Getting up on the platform was hard! I could really see him struggle with the rear legs. Once he was on the platform, he gave me a very nice stand in perfect form. In all body awareness and strengthening exercises I like the dog to work in good form with a strong back, so this is something I always encourage! Later, he gave me a nice sit and I rewarded that as well. He did get better att organizing his back feet at the end of the session.

In our second session we worked on backing up onto the platform. He’s never done anything like that before (except backing up on the flat), so I was considering starting with a lower object when he was struggling. But then he just got it, and we had some really nice repetition. I’m concerned with good form and that he stretches back instead of roaching his back here as well.

We did have a third session too, where we worked on getting on the platform from the side with the front and back foot from the same side at the same time. It was hard, but we made progress! I didn’t include this session in the video because it was already a long enough video, the light was much worse (dark outside) and we didn’t have any really nice repetitions. I’ll get back to it!

We’ve also been on two walks with Squid and played with toys outdoors. He does chase me if I move away when he gets to have the toy, and I can switch him to a new toy. But he won’t come to me with the toy without the prompt of me moving away. Will try to work in a much smaller area and see what he does.

Bud and Alot

Playing with his crazy friend Alot

Bud in his bed

Relaxing in bed

Bud 9 weeks

Bud is such a funny puppy! I’ve had so much to do this week, with Thomas away in Norway (leaving me with all the collies) and Nicks arriving on Monday. Bud has mostly worked on his potty training skills and bonded with Nicks. They are so cute together, almost so much that I don’t want them to grow up.

Today, I had two sessions with them each. Nicks had two short sessions of just play. She’s so social and really wants to cuddle when you sit down and praise her. I had to be fairly quiet and just move the toy around to get her engaged in play. I couldn’t help but cuddle some as well…

Bud is very intense in tugging now, but when I brought food out he was not interested. Here are some clips from today’s session. All sessions are posted to the online foundation class for my students to see. You can still join, we’re only on lesson 1!

Obedience dreams

Last night, I dreamt about really wanting to do an obedience trial with Squid. I even tried entering her in one that had already started and I didn’t have time to warm her up at all. I don’t know how that went, but when I woke up I was still really motivated. We haven’t done much obedience at all since our last trial in the beginning of October. She was in heat, then I went to the U.S. for many weeks, then I just didn’t feel motivated and now it’s just snow and ice everywhere. I still log every minute of training that I do with the dogs, and for the last 4 months, Squids daily average of obedience is 40 seconds…

I don’t really feel motivated to do obedience in freezing cold or on hard or slippery surfaces where she could hurt herself. The time I spend in indoor arenas (all that are heated and with good footing is more than an hour away from here) is spent on agility. So that leaves my living room! I’ve compiled a list of things that I can train at home in a small space, and I’m going to pick a few of them every day. Today was scented retrieve (2 min), long sit stay (2 min) and stand/sit/down from heel with focus on stimulus control (2 min).

Here is a video of scented retrieve and stand/sit/down from heel. Sit stay was too boring to include.

I was asked why I’m so strict in the scent work, not allowing her to work until she finds the correct item. In competition, they do have a minute to find the correct item, but you can get points taken if the dog sniffs the correct one and then doesn’t pick it up immediately. I’d like Squid to start at one end and be systematic even when she’s aroused. She knows the exercise, so our winter indoor training will be focused on getting all the small details right.

What are your best ideas for indoor obedience training? Please leve a comment and give me some inspiration!

February Snow

After an okay December, the end of January has hit us hard with the loss of another beloved young dog. We’ve also gotten a lot of snow and I really, really look forward to spring. A year ago I was driving south through Italy, crying some tears of joy as the warm sun hit my face when I got out of the car. After Win suddenly died, I decided to stay at home this February, which was a good choice considering recent tragic events. But I really, really don’t like the snow and the cold. My dogs are enjoying it (although I’m sure they’d prefer training, just like me), and this video from today brings a smile to my face. In the video is Squid, Epic, Wilco, and the two older puppies – Leet and Volt, on a walk with me. The second part of the video features our 6 week old puppies by Epic having some fun in the snow.

I promise to get back soon with some more uplifting training videos!

Online Classes for 2015

We’re happy to repeat some popular online classes this year! If you’ve been in our Foundation Class, there is Advanced Obedience Skills, where you can progress and learn even more fun behaviors, while perfecting the ones you’ve already learned. If you haven’t been in our Foundation Class, we’ll offer a new round of it, as well as a new round of Relationship Building Class.

Check our classes out here, and let us know if you have any questions. You can send us an e-mail, or just comment below. Also, let us know if there are other classes that you’d like us to offer this spring.

Here’s a video of Wilco learning to spin yesterday. Sometimes, targeting is very useful!

And here’s a funny video of Epic trying to focus on running contact with some puppy distractions 😀

Video from Obedience Training

Squid and I had a great day yesterday, training with our friends Louise and Louise and their dogs Snipe and Kite. Snipe and Kite have the same mother as Epic and Squid, and are born here. This month is obedience and conditioning month for Squid. This day was the perfect kick off for our obedience. I have been logging all training time with my dogs since the beginning of May (really since the beginning of the year, but I changed systems in May). Squid gets an average of 5 minutes of obedience training per day (an average that was 4,43 before yesterday’s massive 70 minutes of training). I think 5 minutes is a decent number considering all other things that we’ve done during this time – agility trials, traveling and resting. It’s far from what the best obedience dogs clock though, so I hope to improve that average by quite a lot by the end of this month!

Obedience is a lot of fun right now. Squid knows all the exercises and I really like how she performs most of the behaviors. She has speed, precision and a happy tail. It feels like pay back for years of training sessions. We’re far from ready to be competitive. When you’ve taught the exercises, you still have a long way to go in terms of stability in competition. I’m excited to do our first obedience trials in the highest class this fall, but I’m happy that we still have many years to find stability and flow in competition.

Here’s a video that Louise posted from our training:

Wilco in the woods

It’s been a while since I updated about Wilco. I’ve been teaching abroad for a couple of weeks, leaving my dogs at home with Thomas. I really missed them, and it was especially hard to leave Wilco. Things happen all the time, and a lot happened during the weeks I was away. Mostly good things! Wilco turned 4 months old yesterday, and I really, really like him! He is so easy going. He can relax ringside at agility competitions, he has such great skills with both dogs and people, he loves training with me. He also loves herding, and when I got home he started to go into the sheep field on his own. I had to keep him on leash around the farm for a while, but he seems to have better thoughts now and is more allowed off leash. His herding looks really good, I can’t wait for him to grow up so that he can be trained!

Yesterday, we went to the woods for some fun. I usually don’t take Wilco on my longer walks with the grown up dogs, but take him out on his own for 10-20 minutes before or after I walk the others. Our adventures in the woods are both for his physical development and for building our relationship. For relationship building, I try to do a lot of recalls and play fun games with him, like hiding his toy and letting him find it with his nose. Sometimes we just walk and he can sniff and explore. Other times, we do things together. I want to have a nice balance between the two.

For his physical development, I like him to work in different speeds. When we’re just walking, I love that he chooses a relaxed trot. Trotting is great for recovery. For strength and coordination, I like to walk my dogs slowly in brush and on uneven ground. In a slow walk, the dog has to use a lot of muscle to move his legs, especially when he is walking in brush that requires extra high leg lifts. This training builds great stabilizing muscle around hips and spine. With Wilco, he is just doing a little bit of it to get used to the idea and to help him coordinate his long legs. I reward him a lot, and I try to reward when he is looking ahead rather than at me. He needs to see where he’s going. Finally, I also want him to do some full speed running. Restrained recalls are great for this!

We also find fallen trees and work on balance and coordination. I haven’t done a lot of body awareness things with Wilco. My priority has been for him to find balance using his own body. Compared to my older dogs, he knows less about climbing things, but when he does (this was his first time on a fallen tree!) he knows how to balance his body. With him, my priority is quality in posture and movements. Less is more, I hope. What are your thoughts on puppy conditioning?