Puppy Training

Stay at station with distractions

We’re having some lovely summer weeks at home with friends visiting and a lot of dog training. Wilco is learning so many new things (dogwalk, seesaw, a-frame, weaves…), Epic and Squid are perfecting skills, and Bud is working on foundation skills and hanging around new people and new dogs.

I also find opportunities to train him when doing other things. My dogs love licking the dirty plates in the dishwasher, so I’ve started to use that as a distraction for his stay at station. It also has the benefit of letting me load the dishwasher without someone rearranging the plates…

This is of course not a very interesting video, but I wanted to share it to show how you can incorporate dog training in everyday life, while also making life a little easier for yourself.

Teaching your dog to go to a station on cue, and stay there with distractions until released, is one of many things covered in our Foundation Class, starting on July 27th.

Bud and I in the morning

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.

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…

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.


Short update, since it’s been a while. It’s still very busy here. Thomas is still in Norway for a few days every week. I just got back from a weekend of teaching in Switzerland. It was a very nice three day seminar with many fun dogs and handlers. Unfortunately, there was no direct flight and I live 2,5 hours away from nearest major airport, so travelling took one full day (around 12 hours) each way. I’m exhausted! But Squid and I have obedience trials coming up this weekend, so there’s no time to rest. We drove 2 hours (one way) to get some quality indoor training today, and tomorrow we have another indoor training date.


Switzerland had interesting distractions. A deer farm surrounding the training field.

We really should have trained more regularly this winter, but I was pleased with her performance today. Most parts are really good, but achieving consistency in performance in trials will probably take a lot of effort. Good thing we have many years left. We’ve trained obedience for 6,5 minutes daily on average during the past month. That’s 6 minutes more than our daily average during the three months before that!

Our puppies are growing and developing all the time. Leet, 6 months, is with our friend Rebecca to experience some city life. Volt, 5 months, is starting some herding training on a long line and looks really nice! My puppies – Nicks (14 weeks) and Bud (12 weeks today) are mostly just hanging out with us, sleeping, eating, playing and running around on the farm. Just being puppies. They are such nice puppies – very attentive and loves to be close to you. I haven’t had much time to do more that have some short tugging sessions with them. There’s no hurry. They’re having a great time just being puppies, and I think they’ll catch up on the reversed luring and release commands and rear end awareness in no time when I start training them. On Friday, Thomas picks up his GWP puppy. The house has been missing something since Paxa tragically passed in January, and now we’re finally getting another bearded lady in the house!

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7 week old GWP puppies. I think the puppy closest to the camera is Alot, Thomas’ new puppy. 

Bud 9 weeks

Bud is such a funny puppy! I’ve had so much to do this week, with Thomas away in Norway (leaving me with all the collies) and Nicks arriving on Monday. Bud has mostly worked on his potty training skills and bonded with Nicks. They are so cute together, almost so much that I don’t want them to grow up.

Today, I had two sessions with them each. Nicks had two short sessions of just play. She’s so social and really wants to cuddle when you sit down and praise her. I had to be fairly quiet and just move the toy around to get her engaged in play. I couldn’t help but cuddle some as well…

Bud is very intense in tugging now, but when I brought food out he was not interested. Here are some clips from today’s session. All sessions are posted to the online foundation class for my students to see. You can still join, we’re only on lesson 1!