This is my awesome team on a walk in the forest yesterday. It’s a great time to just walk off track in the woods. My dogs love to run, sniff, explore, run some more and best of all – find water to run in. We also try to take some time walking slowly through blueberry bushes and uneven ground, so that they gain core strength and balance as well. The only drawback is all the bugs that get on my clothes and hair and even follow me home. There are some ticks, but they are almost cozy compared to the deer ked. Yesterday was terrible, and although I tried to protect myself with a long sleeved shirt and a tight fitting beanie that covered all my hair, I was picking the bastards out of my hair all day. One even crawled out on my forehead as I was almost asleep at night. They don’t seem to stick to the dogs, I guess I look more like a moose. Well, it’s almost worth it anyway, and we also bring nice things with us from the forest – like chanterelles.
These last two pictures are from Squid’s 7th birthday ten days ago. I made the day all about her. Here are some other pictures from her day. Agility of course, but also some herding (something she never gets to do on other days).
It’s been a very intense and tough period since I got home from the U.S. One of the motherless puppies broke his jaw, and required a lot of attention. Three of the puppies moved out at 8 weeks, two weeks ago. Two of them are still with us, and will stay here at least for a while. We also got a slightly older (3 months) puppy from England two weeks ago. Her name is Leet, and she’ll hopefully be a good herding dog and contribute to our breeding.
Volt, 8 weeks
Four days ago, our second litter for the year was born. Mother is Thomas’ Fay, and father is my Epic. She had four boys and two girls. Everything went well, and they seem content with life. Since they were born, we’ve had a few calm days at home. First celebrating Christmas with my family, and then just spending time at home. It’s nice to have some home time before we start off the year with a busy January. Yesterday, I took some pictures of the dogs. Wilco is 10 months old now, and is quite handsome.
I try to find little things that will make my dogs a little happier every day. Especially for Shejpa, who doesn’t get as much training as my other two dogs. This morning, she was pacing the house and looked like she couldn’t find a good enough place to lie. Then I remembered that she loves the folding camping chairs that we bring to trials. I usually end up on the floor or in someone else’s chair, as Shejpa gets very upset if she can’t sleep in mine. So i brought one into the house and she was very happy, didn’t get up for anything <3
What have you done to make your dog a little happier today?
We’ve had a lot of snow and some really cold weather in December (with a record of -25 C, unfortunately when Greg Derrett was here doing a seminar. It was cold…).
But a few days ago, it started thawing and the mild weather seems to stick with us for another week. We’ve been able to train our dogs on sheep for two days now. And look what a difference in the amount of snow on the same field from yesterday from today.
Thomas has been away teaching in Norway for a week now and I’ve been home alone with my dogs. I haven’t had much teaching to do this week, just one evening class, so we’ve been training a lot. We’re fortunate enough to have two indoor dog training arenas within about an hours drive. They are warm and have turf footing, which is a life saver when it’s cold and icy outdoors. We also have a riding arena where I have my agility equipment just 5 minutes from our place, but it’s not quite the same. I’ve been training a lot of obedience the past month and both Squid and Epic are doing well. Squid will do her first obedience trial in march and I feel very well prepared for that. We’re working on a lot of sequences with 3-6 exercises in a row with only one reward at the end. I’ve also started to add more and more distractions to the sequences, trying to find new things that could distract us at a trial. I will keep doing that, but now that everything works well as a whole, I’m also planning to take care of some minor details that will make our performance even better. My goal for the trial is to be so well prepared that there will be no surprises.
Squid, tired from four hours of training in one of the indoor arenas
Epic is mostly working on heeling, the stand (which i promise I will talk about in the blog soon), sitting still with distractions (people coming up to him is one of the hardest, he is such a happy dog, just like his sister) and always retrieving his toys to me in full speed. We’re also working on some tricks and agility foundation behaviors, like circle work, nose touches and puppy jump grids. He is so much fun to work with – always keen and focused, but also very good at relaxing in his crate when I work with one of the other dogs or watch others work. He will be 6 months old this week.
Epic, running in the snow at home
Shejpa doesn’t do obedience, but I’m working on some stimulus control and standing still waiting for a cue with her, something she’s not very good at. We’re also training agility, like today when we went to a riding arena where our dog club has training every Sunday. This year, my goal with Shejpa is to get a more consistent performance in trials. She really has ups and downs and I’ve never really figured out what makes the difference. I’m starting to think that the correct warm up is very important for her and I’m trying out different warm ups and record keep so that I can get optimum arousal and focus in every run. So far I feel I’m on the right track and I’m very excited to do more trials so that I can tell if I am or not.
Crazy cocker spaniel <3
Right now, I’m preparing for two days of obedience with our favorite instructor Maria Hagström. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m sure I’ll have something to tell you about it later this week.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years Eve. We sure did. I’m so tired of snow right now, it’s pouring down outside. I plan on going by train to Gothenburg tomorrow for this year’s first agility trial, but who knows if we’ll get there in this weather. We thought last winter was extreme, with snow from December to the beginning of April. This year we got snow already in November. And December has been really cold. There are more and more indoor arenas built for dog sports in Sweden, which is wonderful. Being able to train in a heated facility with nice footing is not something we are used to here. For us, it’s a 40 minute drive to the closest one and it’s not cheap, but it’s worth it!
This year, I’m trying to get even more structure to my dog training. I have always found goals based on results hard to focus on, so this year I have a long list of skills that I want my dogs to master by the end of the year. Trying to figure out what you want to teach your dog in a year is not easy, but probably better than just training without knowing where you’re going. Working with these goals also require breaking them down into smaller goals and keeping track of progress often. I have decided to write down goals for one month at a time, and then combining that with a plan for each week and each day. Does it sound complicated? I guess it is, but training three dogs in at least three different sports takes time. I need to make sure that every training session is taking me closer to my goals. I believe that good planning and god evaluation is the key to good, efficient training. I’m excited to see how this works out and I’ll let you know.
It’s about time to present my new puppy. He is a border collie named Epic and he is from our first own litter of puppies, born on August 3rd. His mother is Squid’s mother Fly and his father is named Killiebrae Hemp (bred by Derek Scrimgeour in England, living in Norway). I have really loved the puppies I have seen from Hemp, both in agility and herding. So far, Epic looks like everything I wanted from this combination. He is very friendly and outgoing and a lot of fun to work with. He relaxes well at home and is very focused on his work even with distractions. He is keen on sheep and shows great talent, but he’s just met the sheep a couple of times. I will start training him on sheep within a few months.
Thomas picked up his new dog at the airport 3 weeks ago. Her name is Jen and she’s a 8-month-old border collie that we’ve bought from Derek Scrimgeour in England. She is a very friendly and soft girl, and she is adjusting to her new life well. She’s doesn’t seem used to living indoors and the life we live is probably very different from what she has experienced during her first seven months. She’s getting along with all the other dogs here and she is very friendly with people.
She is very keen around sheep and is doing a lot of nice things while herding. We’ve started to train her a bit, teaching her to lie down around sheep and balancing them to us. She is very easy going and cool, not at all like my crazy red head at that age… Thomas is hoping that Jen will be able to do sheepdog trials at a high level with him in the future, and maybe she’ll do some agility as well.
Jen also has to learn to offer behaviors and play with us. We had to have a lot of patience to get her to become active in learning. In the beginning, Thomas would train all of his dogs at the same time, offering them all treats for different behaviors. Jen seemed more relaxed and creative in that setting. She is now offering behaviors both at home and at the dog training club. She’ll offer stand, sit, down, bow and a simple retrieve. She has also started to play a little with us at home, but it’s a still a long way to go. It’s very exciting to see how much she changes all the time, how much more personality she gains with every week here. She might be acting like a more focused, toy crazy border collie in a while, or it might be a lot of work before she’ll work and play with Thomas. I’ll let you know!