June 2015

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.

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:


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.