Wilco turned 8 months last week. That means that he’s lived with us for over half a year. Wilco is a very nice little dog. He’s got many traits that I really like. First of all, he’s kind and social with everybody. Meeting new dogs always means that he wags his tail and hopes to start a new friendship. He likes people, but is calm and balanced when greeting them. Although he is happy and friendly, it’s hard to get him to lose focus in training. He is not triggered by other dogs moving fast or playing, so there’s never a problem with training him close to other teams. He is also very good at waiting for his turn when others train (although I have to admit he could be better at waiting for his turn when I train the other dogs). He easily relaxes when nothing happens, bot outdoors and indoors. I also think that he has a very nice build and a balanced structure that he uses well. He’ll probably end up a bit taller than Squid and Epic. He’s got tall legs and a short and strong back. I like these traits a lot in a border collie. I feel very lucky!
Wilco waiting for his turn
I read a Swedish blog by Maria Brandel last week, on how every dog is different and how it’s not dangerous to be ready for competition early, but also how you shouldn’t be stressed out if your dog needs more time. I totally agree, of course. It’s not a bad idea to wait if you feel like your puppy isn’t ready for what you want to teach. Wilco learns quickly and has good focus, but there are still things that I don’t think he is ready for. He is stilla puppy, and he doesn’t have the power and strength of an adult dog.
Wilco’s father Epic was another type when he was young – he matured early and has always been very powerful. I’ve always compared Epic to at typical “jock”. Physically capable, strong, hardy and with a lot of confidence. I don’t think he’s grown out of that role yet. Squid was a very different young dog. She was clever and learned a lot of behaviors, but she had a lot of trouble with other things. She couldn’t do anything with power and speed. She stopped working if anything went wrong. I couldn’t do much duration work or trial prep, because she’s get very worried if anything went wrong. When she was about 14 months old, I took her to the vet to make sure that she was healthy. She was, but we had to let obedience wait for quite a long time, while we did other things. Agility was easier, but it took some time before she really got excited about doing it, and I had to build her confidence in jumping very slowly.
Wilco is somewhere between his father Epic and his aunt Squid. He isn’t as sensitive and slow as Squid, but also doesn’t have the power and confidence of his father. He is mature in some ways, but still a puppy in other aspects. With Squid’s journey fresh in my memory, I’m not worried that I won’t get speed and confidence in Wilco. I just enjoy developing the things that I feel that he’s ready to do. A balance between games for speed, physical conditioning, shaping and skills for obedience and agility. There are things that I haven’t felt like there is much point in working on yet – for example a formal retrieve or send to box. When I started with Squid, I planned to teach her send to square early. It took me an extra year before I felt she was ready. When I started training, it took me 9 minutes to get her to find the box with her eyes and run there in full speed without any prompts. I don’t regret waiting!
At the same time, I constantly feel like I should be training Wilco more. It’s not that I compare our journey to others. Not much anyway. It’s just that we have so few years to spend with out dogs, and I want to make the most out of them. There are things that I think that Wilco should wait before he learns, but also a lot of things that we should be doing more of right now…