May 2015

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…

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If you (like me) can’t get enough of Bud, I recommend that you start following us on Instagram. I post a lot of cute pictures, and short updates on our training. Like this one from tonight, where we tried the lateral step up on platform again.

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I haven’t engaged in much other training today (some herding though). Wilco and I went for a walk along the stream. May really is beautiful here:


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

He’s the one!

It’s been a few months since my latest update. Thomas is finally done with his masters degree in ethology, and I hope that means that he’ll spend more time at home. Our puppies are growing and showing their personalities. They are all awesome, which makes deciding what to do with all that talent difficult (five puppies is a lot of work if you’re going to train them all…) I’ve been very slow in making a decision. My puppies were mostly just hanging around, and I didn’t do much training with them. Bud showed lots of promise on sheep very early (here’s an example from a few weeks ago), while Nicks took a little more time to show interest. She is very keen now, and looks promising.

A month ago, I brought Nicks with me on a trial road trip for some time with me. She was perfect! Friendly with everybody. Calm in new environments and around the agility ring. Happy to work for play and food. Great with walking on a leash, sleeping in new places and being tied to a tree while I walked the course. I love easygoing, bold, friendly dogs that aren’t easily excited by movement – Nicks is perfect!

Nicks 19 weeks

Nicks at 19 weeks

Bud has generally been a little weirder and more careful with new things than Nicks. He’s also been more easily excited by dogs moving. He did tug like crazy when he was 8 weeks, but after I introduced treats he was just crazy for them and wouldn’t play with me without a big effort (remember that I didn’t train him much at all, but I did try to play a couple of times). After my road trip with Nicks, I was convinced that I probably should invest my time in her and maybe look for a great herding home for Bud. I did feel like I wanted to spend some more time alone with Bud first, to get to know him better. So I did – and I fell in love!

Bud 4 months


Bud playing with me

2 weeks ago, I was ecstatic when I got him really playing with me! I started introducing food in our play sessions, and he kept tugging like crazy, even though it sometimes took a few seconds to get him back in tug mode after food. Last weekend, I brought him with me to his first agility trial. He hasn’t been out much (he’s been very carsick, so it’s not that easy to just bring him in the car) and there were a lot of things to look at that he hadn’t seen before. He would engage very enthusiastically in play, he loved getting food, and he did get a little excited about dogs running. He was worried about things too – people approaching and especially children running past us. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I was a bit concerned.

Yesterday, eight days later, I brought him to another agility trial. He was absolutely perfect. He could engage fully in training right beside the ring, he would relax beside me, he was happy to see both people, children and dogs. When something was especially distracting in the ring, his reaction was to turn to me for food (otherwise he just ignored the agility).

He is more sensitive than other puppies I’ve had, but he seems to get over things with very little exposure. He is easily excited by things, but fortunately even more easily excited by tugging and food. He also seems much easier to calm down than I originally thought. He learns things quickly and is very focused in everything he does. He is also very cuddly and loves to be near me. He relaxes very well in the house, when he’s not being attacked by Thomas’ crazy GWP puppy…

We just started training things other than recalls and not running away to herd sheep on his own. He’s 5 months old, but we’re three months “behind”. I decided to share some of our training even though it’s not advanced at all. And to get over my fear of publishing videos of my unkept house/garden/hair/clothes… There’s also probably music in the background, as there always is here. Here’s what we did yesterday:

Nicks? She’s been with a friend for a couple of weeks to see some new things and get a little training. They’ve had a great time and she’s been mostly perfect as usual. She’s coming home next week, and maybe we can start a little herding training with her soon.

Other things that happened – Epic became jumping champion and got a certificate in standard agility too. Squid got another excellent score in obedience – with Thomas handling her when I was teaching. Wilco and I are having fun with basic agility handling training. Both Thomas and I are doing some herding trials and it’s been a lot of fun even though I rarely get everything to work perfectly in the same run.