I should write in this blog more often. There are so many things that I have worked on since last time I wrote here.

I havn’t done a lot of obedience training with Pi since our trial in May, but now I have decided to get ready for the next obedience level with her and I hope that we’ll be ready for a trial in four weeks, but that is really optimistic… I need to teach her send to square (10 meters straight ahead and then stop in the square), recall with stand, sit/down/sit/down at a distance, jump away from me and some other things. But she is a fast learner and maybe we’ll be ready to do a trial in November.

Shadow Handling
Both Missy and Shejpa has been working on a lot of shadow handling in the past week. For Shejpa, I have cut out all treats and I only use tug as a reward. That creates new challenges in our shadow handling, but that’s where I need to start if I want her to turn tight and respond quickly on equipment. Rewardning her with only tugging is a challenge, but I’ve been at this point using treats too and I know we’ll get better. She is already making good progress. With Missy, I realised the importance of shadow handling when I incorporated it into our training on turning tight over one jump. We’ve been working on it a lot, but progress has been really slow with both dogs. But when I put the circle work into that with Missy, she finally found a reason to dig in and turn tight over the jump. It was so cool. For her, using more high value treats (chicken necks!) and not just tugging, also has a good effect.

Running dogwalks
Shejpas dogwalk was really bad on Thursday (under new and challenging circumstances) and I realised that much of the value that she found in the dogwalk has gone away. She used to get really happy getting on the dowalk, but now it was just like any other obstacle. I think running it a lot in sequences, training turns but not going straight and mostly, just not training a lot, made that happend. I don’t think I should obsess so much about the turning. Both dogs turn pretty good if i decel smoothly. It annoys me that they don’t really get the concept of turning, but maybe it’s a thing they will grow into. It only took a few repetitions of running straight and throwing the toy to get Shejpa to love her dogwalk and hit the contact reliably.

Puppies are four weeks old this weekend. Here are some pictures from last weekend

Puppy picture

I got a picture from the breederon Saturday. The puppies are two weeks old. This is female one and two and number two is really looking like she’ll be very red in the face. I really like that, even though the white on her head isn’t symmetrical.

Puppies, 2 weeks old

Back chaining the stairs

We’re still having nice, warm weather and have been able to work outdoors a lot. We were out on the training field for hours on monday, dogs relaxing in their crates when they weren’t working. We did jump grids with Pavlov, Missy and Shejpa and Pi got to do some set point exercises in the Salo spider. She looked great and seems to have more confidence in jumping now. We also did some one jump exercises for the first time, just building value for one jump. She did good, but I wish she could be a little less thoughtful and just go 🙂

I have been training a lot of contacts the last days, especially with Shejpa. She was so good yesterday that I’m really looking forward to getting our contact equipment. I moved the stairs to a new piece of grass and she was perfect from the first repetition. She does all her nose touching without a target and I have backchained the stairs, but I don’t always let her drive down the whole set. It depends on what other challenges I give her. I work on different body positions for me and on different distractions. I found out that she’s really good at most things, but that I almost never have started her when I’m in front, so I’ll have to work on that.

Here are some nice pictures from Pi’s first birthday:

Got my happy dog back

I’ve had an intense weekend with two days of teaching at home and then two days in Bergen (on the west coast of Norway). I flew home yesterday and have been pretty tired since I got home. The dogs are not tired at all (even though Nina has done a great job keeping them busy while I was away) and we have done some training today already. Pi is finally her self again after being in heat for the first time, wich really made her tired and easily distracted. I gave her most of last week off and now she’s back to normal (and our male dogs have started to calm down around her).

We also started to teach Nina’s kelpie Agera to weave today. The plan is to do 3 x 3 minutes of weaving every day for the two next weeks. Agera did 1 + 3 minutes this morning and caught on very fast. We couldn’t get her to fail once, but we didn’t do very hard things since it was her first time. When we planned the next session we made sure that we gave her more challenging entries and sure enough, she failed. And as I had thought, when she failed once, she had a hard time changing and being right again. She failed many times but did not stop trying and finally got it right. We finished with some easy ones and because of all the thinking and failing involved, the session was 13 minutes long. I hope that we can see her get that same, challenging entry tonight. We’re videotaping everything and I might show a clip tonight.

It was very obvious that it’s a great advantage to have a dog that is familiar with the one jump exercises when you start with the weaving (2x2s). Agera was sure of what to do right from the start!

Nina and Agera

Agility class and late night training

The weather here in Norway is still absolutely wonderful. We had agility foundations class tonight and it was the first time with the dogs (did the theory indoors last week). We’ve got three border collies (I don’t think we’ve ever had that many border collies in a class before), a mudi, a kelpie and a field bred golden (who unfortunatley couldn’t come tonight) in this class. We did circle work, rear end awareness on perch, hand/nose touches, value for one jump and a set point exercise tonight. The dogs all worked really well and I think we can progress fast with this group. Shejpa got to to demos in class tonight, I think she appreciated that after a boring day.

I took Missy out late at night (it’s wonderful when you can do training in daylight at 10 pm) and did some training. She did a few jumps in the Salo Spider (set point exercise) and was perfect. Then I added some excitment (“ready… steady…” and a step forward as i released her) and she crashed into the bar twice. She kept the bar up the third and fourth time, but we should really start adding some movement and excitement to her jump training. Missy also worked on turning tight over a jump, something that takes time to get fluent with speed and height. We’re currently working pretty close to the jump with a low bar. My movement is the biggest challenge here as well. Missy’s circle work is getting pretty good and I think that will help on her jumping as well. We also did some nose targeting on the stairs and worked on her stimulus control (stand, sit and down while heeling) with the toy out. She did well.

Here are some lovely photos that one of my students took this weekend

Shejpa driving into target position
Pi retrieving her toy
Shejpa catching a treat
Missy and Fanny

Another video

We had a nice, warm day and did a lot of training at home with some friends. Shejpa got to do shadow handling and double box work. I focused on getting her to move faster through turns where she has to turn tight and looses speed and I am pretty stationary. They often make her slow down a lot, but todays training made a big difference. Shejpa and Missy did some bend work and Pi did a few jumps in the Salo Spider. Missy and I worked some more on her nose touches.

Shejpa jumping

Pi and I did all the excercises in our novice obedience class. She has turned 11 months and our debut in obedience trials is getting close. These are the excercises in the easiest obedience class in Sweden:

– Long down with other dogs for 2 minutes with handler 20 meters away (we did 1.20 min today)
– Heeling on leash with turns, halts and fast pace.
– Moving down. Dog heels off leash, handler cues “down”, dog stays in a down while handler moves 10 meters away, turns around and returns to dogs side. Handler cues “sit”.
– Recall. Handler leaves dog in a sit, walks 15 meters away and turns around. Calls the dog who finishes in heel position on left side.
– Moving stand. Dog heels off leash, handler cues “stand”, dog stays in a stand while handler moves 10 meters away, turns around and returns to dogs side. Handler cues “sit”.
– Holding dumbell. Dog in heel position. Handler presents dumbell to dog for 3 seconds before cueing the dog to take the dumbell. Dog holds dumbell for 5 seconds and gives the dumbell back to handler on cue.
– Recall over jump. Handler leaves dog in a sit in front of a jump and walks to other side. Handler cues “jump” and dog jumps and finishes in heel position.

We have a few weeks left before our first trial and Pi is doing good so far. She needs to be able to heel for longer periods of time without rewards, get more experience in the long down and practice in competition like settings.

Missy is in the highest class (called elite) and has a competiton on thursday. She got to do her directed retrieve and scent articles today and did a great job even though we really challenged her understanding of the excercises.

A short video from todays training (Shejpa shadow handling, Shejpa bend work and Missy’s nose touches):

This weeks tricks

On monday night, I decided to teach Pi to put her paw over her eyes. A common method for teaching that is to put tape on the dogs nose and click as the dog uses her paw to remove the annoyance. I decided to use shaping instead. It took me quite a while to get her to put her paw on her nose, but once she got the hang of it, she started offering a really cool behavior. I love this about shaping tricks that are about body awareness, the dog will start streching her self and gradually do more advanced movements as her body adjusts. I also bought some more ceramic bowls for the dogs. Not for eating from, but for standing in 😀 Pi is quite good at the middle bowl, but has only been able to put three paws in the smallest one (that require her to put her front paws on her back paws).

The next smallest bowl

Setter yoga

Started working on the right paw today