November 2008

Shejpa’s running dogwalk

I started to work on Missy and Shejpa’s running dogwalks again this week, focusing on turning. I did that once before, but felt that the whole behavior was breaking down. Most dogs with running dogwalks does not seem to be that good at turning and I felt that maybe I should just run them and then turn them tighter and tighter as they got more experienced. But I didn’t really like that solution, I like to really teach my dogs things. So I tried again this week and it seems like I’ve had more success. I have focused on criteria and with Missy, I have used a target briefly (that didn’t alter her striding, but made her more aware of my criteria) and with Shejpa I used a stick in the ground for her to run around (also very briefly, for just a session). It only took Shejpa two sessions before I almost couldn’t make her fail. I could send her from behind the dogwalk and stand still, I could run laterally away and serp, I could turn her 180 degrees to a tunnel or a jump. She does slow down when I hang back, but I guess she’ll pick up speed when she gets more confident.

Here is a video from todays practice

Puppy Class

We started a new puppy class the day I got Squid home. The first night was just lecturing, last week was the first working night and tonight was our second time working the puppies. It’s so much fun to do a puppy class with your own puppy and I was surprised at how much has happened since last time. We worked on:

Crate Games
All puppies were willingly going back into their crates when released. Squid likes the crate games, but when I started to shut the door when she tried to come out, she would not respond to her release any more. I decided to do some counter conditoning and would shut the door many times and drops treats in the crate every time I did it. I also released her more often and rewarded her more for coming out. I want to be able to use closing the door as a consequence for breaking criteria, but I don’t want her to be worried or scared. I don’t see it much, but I think she is a pretty soft puppy. She also stopped getting her toy on cue when I stood on the leash once when she tried to steal the toy from the ground. I need to build lots of value for closing crate door, collar grabs etc. She stayed in an open crate for most of puppy class when she wasn’t working and I was happy to see that she could control her self when the other puppies did restrained recalls.

It’s Your Choice
All puppies got started on It’s Your Choice today. We want the puppies to stay away from an open hand with treats in it and be still until the treat is delivered to the puppy’s mouth. Most dogs were working on it in a sit and we added the release word. Squid is pretty good at this and I could throw toys around, run away from her, stand still with my back to her and praise her wildly without her breaking her sit. We’re doing a jumping seminar in three weeks and I want her to be able to have skills to do jump grids independently. So we worked on sitting still while I walk away, throw the toy and stand by the toy (with some lateral distance) and then release her when she focuses forward. She was a very good girl!

All the puppies did some restrained recalls last week and we did the same thing today, but added some challenges to the puppies that seemed ready for it. Squid was great. She did two restrained recalls and then I gave her “go see” cue and let her socialize with another puppy. I walked away and called her after a while. She turned to me immediatly and ran as fast as she could to me. We did it twice and she was perfect. We ended with a restrained recall where I added a front cross before tugging with her.

Collar Grabs
We did collar grabs with all the puppies to make sure that no puppy will avoid the hands reaching for their collar, weather it has to do with a time out or an emergency. A good game for soft Squid and I need to do it more!

Loose Leash Walking
We ended todays puppy class by introducing loose leash walking. This is something that I have been working on with Squid since the first time she got a leash attatched to her collar and it really helps compared to the puppies that have gotten lots of reinforcement for pulling on the lead already. There’s another benefit in starting right away with a small puppy. They usually don’t run ahead of you for the first couple of weeks and you can build loads of value for staying at your side. I need to do more short walks on lead with Squid, she is mostly off leash and I can see that that makes her more likely to run ahead of me when she is on leash. I’ll incorporate small sessions of LLW whenever I take her out and let her run loose.

Agility trials in Hamar

We’ve been in Hamar this weekend for Norway’s biggest dog show. Friday was agility classes I-2 and Shejpa was entered in both jumpers and standard. She is in heat and not in her best mood. I’m going to spay her when I get the chance, because I think she is in heat way too often (last time was July-August) and maybe spaying her will have a positive effect on her behavior as well. She was pretty mellow and I actually had to drag her with me on leash in the arena. She was better on the agility course, but not as fast as she can be. We started with jumpers, where she slipped in the weave entry and skidded past the second pole. We won the class with five faults and in Norway, that is a qualifying result in the lowest class. You need to run with no more than 5,99 faults to earn a leg and you need to get three legs in order to get to the next level. In the next class (2), you need to run clean to get a leg.

We only do jumpers and standard in Norway (plus team, but that’s not my thing, at least not now), no games. The standard course was pretty easy and Shejpa had more speed this time (she likes her running dogwalk). The dogwalk was really unstable and I think the sound and movement of it made her a bit hesitant. She hit her contact, but a bit high. Weaves and a-frame was perfect. The seesaw was at the end of the course and she few right of it. I thought it was a refusal, but the judge only signaled five faults and by the time I had that sorted out, Shejpa had taken another jump and started to sniff. I got her collected again and ran to the finish. Five faults once again and second place. The sniffing was entirely my fault, for disconnecting with her and looking at the judge, and for not taking her out to pee before the run. She sat right down on the carpet outside the ring and peed… Poor dog.

It wasn’t a very good trial for us, but she did what we came there to do (but not much more) we now have 2/3 legs in both jumpers and standard. I’m really looking forward to getting to the highest class and getting some challenges in the handling. We watched class 3 on Saturday and the Nordic Championships on Sunday. I really liked the German judge’s courses and I might set one of them up for my dogs at home. These were the individual results at the Nordic Championships:

1.  Elin Hylander, Woodmist Fine Sensible Promise (Zimba), Sweden
2.  Ørnulf Holm, TT, Norway
3.  Susanne Prier, Unique, Denmark

1.  Annika Mojanis, Izor, Sweden
2. Morten Bratlie, Iver, Norway
3. Jesper Carstensen, Indy, Denmark

1.  Jouni Orenius, Yoko, Finland
2. Jaako Suokuuti, Zen, Finland
3. Sarah Lorentzen, Simic, Denmark

Squid was with me in the big arena all three days. She was just perfect. She slept through almost all of the agility and had small potty and training breaks. She doesn’t mind the environment at all, with many thousands of dogs and people in one building. She is happy to see both dogs and people, but can still concentrate on tugging and training with me anywhere It was good that she slept through most of the agility though, because she really wants to join in when she is awake and she is loud when she tries to tell you that… Something to work on right away!

Puppy update

Squid has started to be more offensive in shaping, wich I love. She started offering so many cool things when she got frustrated, that I decided to just have sessions where I capture and shape her puppy goofiness. I know it might make other things harder for me, because I have clicked for different things in one session (without me being in charge of switching behaviors), something I very rarely do. I want my dogs to keep working on the same thing until I decide to do something new. But on the other hand, I got some really cool behaviors and Squid is working much more activly. She likes to lie down, something that I have never reinforced before, but now decided to accept as she is offering so many cool things. She has offered and repeated:

  • Hind paw on face
  • Crossing front legs
  • Rolling over
  • Putting front paw over nose
  • Streching front legs

We have also been working on getting up with front paws on a small perch and holding a toy in her mouth when I tempt her with treats. She has been on a few walks with the older dogs out on the fields (no herding the older dogs yet, so she can join us for now) and we have been working on circle work on the agility field.

Squid with our german pointer Pax

Squid with Pi and Missy (can you believe they are both border collies?)

Pi, flying over the fields

On Monday, we brought her to some friends and family with small children. She med Kaja, 5 month old human puppy, and Benjamin, Thomas’ 8 months old nephew. She was really sweet with the babies and was really happy to see them. We also got to walk in the city at night.

Squid and Kaja

Squid wants to share toys with Kaja

We’re getting ready for an agility trial tomorrow. Shejpa hasn’t been in a trial since her debut in September and I really, really hope we’ll do well tomorrow. It’s indoors on carpet and that should suite her fine.

Squid just turned 9 weeks

Squid turned 9 weeks yesterday and it has been a week filled with joy since I got her. She is a very confident and fearless puppy. She’s been to many different locations in the past week, for example shopping malls, vet, parks, city centre, stable, airport, woods and on a bus. Nothing seems to make her worried and she loves all people that she greets.

At the airport

In her bag at the airport

She flew with us to Stavanger this weekend. I’m happy to be able to introduce her to flying while she still can ride in the cabin with us. She was absolutely perfect. We did some socializing and training at the airport and she didn’t mind any of the distractions there, she even tugged her way through the line for security. While flying, she slept all the time both ways in her bag under the seat in front of me. She didn’t say a thing. We were teaching in Stavanger and I had her close to me all the time. She slept in the bag at my chest while I was walking around and instructing. She got to show the first steps in crate games and perch work for the first time. She quickly caught on and she is now eagerly playing crate games.

Teaching with me

Teaching with me in Stavanger

Shaping was initially a bit slow with her. She would lie down a lot and sometimes even fell asleep. That is nog big problem any more, she might lay down, but she will soon get up and start working again. Her backing up is starting to look really good. We also work on loose leash walking and stopping at my side when I stop. She seems to get it, because she would run to me and sit at my side instead of coming into front when I had my back to her at puppy class tonight. We do a lot of restrained recalls and work on not crossing behind my back. I will start doing more circle work now that she is doing her loose leash walking well without crossing behind.

Playing with a boxer puppy friend

Welcome Squid!

She’s finally home and she’s an absolutely wonderful puppy! I picked her up this weekend. She is very cuddly and pretty calm. She tugs like crazy and loves food. I’ve never had a puppy that acts so much like a puppy, she is not as mature as the puppies that I have had in the past. I think that’s a good thing. I get time to bond with her before she starts to stalk other dogs, chase cars and act like a teenager. On the other hand, she is not the fastest learner when it comes to shaping, because of her immaturity. She tends to fall asleep in my lap instead of trying harder 😀 I’m sure she’ll be excellent before long.

We’ve done a lot of socialising since I got her. We’ve met a lot of people, quite a few dogs and a lot of children. We’ve been to the vet, to the mall, to the pet store, watched traffic, ridden an elevator, walked in the woods, watched herding, been in three homes… All in four days. I can’t wait to get some more training done with her! She is such a lovely puppy.

Playing with children
Greeting another dog in the pet store
Trying out toys at the pet store
Training at the vets
First day!

And finally: A video from our first day: