Wilco is really a very easy puppy to raise. He loves both play and food. He relaxes really well. When he doesn’t feel like sleeping, he plays with his toys and leaves the furniture alone (he didn’t do that a month ago, but now he seems happy with his toys and bones). He doesn’t go crazy over other dogs running, playing or working. This is such a good trait in a border collie puppy. It makes having him with me everywhere so much easier.
There is really just one annoying problem. He loves herding sheep and he’ll go in the sheep field on his own to push the sheep around (really nicely, but still not a good idea). He won’t run away when we’re training (sheep are just across the driveway from my obedience/agility field), but he will if he’s just hanging out in the garden, or when we come back from walks. And the more you try to stop him, the more determined he is to go. He’s been on a leash around the farm for weeks now, but I miss having him just hanging out with me outdoors.
It’s been a while since I updated about Wilco. I’ve been teaching abroad for a couple of weeks, leaving my dogs at home with Thomas. I really missed them, and it was especially hard to leave Wilco. Things happen all the time, and a lot happened during the weeks I was away. Mostly good things! Wilco turned 4 months old yesterday, and I really, really like him! He is so easy going. He can relax ringside at agility competitions, he has such great skills with both dogs and people, he loves training with me. He also loves herding, and when I got home he started to go into the sheep field on his own. I had to keep him on leash around the farm for a while, but he seems to have better thoughts now and is more allowed off leash. His herding looks really good, I can’t wait for him to grow up so that he can be trained!
Yesterday, we went to the woods for some fun. I usually don’t take Wilco on my longer walks with the grown up dogs, but take him out on his own for 10-20 minutes before or after I walk the others. Our adventures in the woods are both for his physical development and for building our relationship. For relationship building, I try to do a lot of recalls and play fun games with him, like hiding his toy and letting him find it with his nose. Sometimes we just walk and he can sniff and explore. Other times, we do things together. I want to have a nice balance between the two.
For his physical development, I like him to work in different speeds. When we’re just walking, I love that he chooses a relaxed trot. Trotting is great for recovery. For strength and coordination, I like to walk my dogs slowly in brush and on uneven ground. In a slow walk, the dog has to use a lot of muscle to move his legs, especially when he is walking in brush that requires extra high leg lifts. This training builds great stabilizing muscle around hips and spine. With Wilco, he is just doing a little bit of it to get used to the idea and to help him coordinate his long legs. I reward him a lot, and I try to reward when he is looking ahead rather than at me. He needs to see where he’s going. Finally, I also want him to do some full speed running. Restrained recalls are great for this!
We also find fallen trees and work on balance and coordination. I haven’t done a lot of body awareness things with Wilco. My priority has been for him to find balance using his own body. Compared to my older dogs, he knows less about climbing things, but when he does (this was his first time on a fallen tree!) he knows how to balance his body. With him, my priority is quality in posture and movements. Less is more, I hope. What are your thoughts on puppy conditioning?
Another “first” video today: I decided to try to teach Wilco a fold back down. The goal is for him to fold back while keeping all four paws still. This is just one of several position changes that he will learn, it felt like the best one to start with. I will later add the cue “dekk” and use this for position changes. In the first training session, I thought I would just start and see what he did. I normally capture downs in everyday life before I try it in formal training sessions, but I haven’t done that this time. I was just about to stop the session, and wait a few weeks before I tried it again, when suddenly he went down:
In the next session he quickly got back on track and we got quite a few decent repetitions:
The next step is for him to become less dependent on having the reward hand so close to his nose and I will increase the criteria for his paws to be completely still.
Time really flies, and I haven’t had time to do as much training with Wilco as I had envisioned. He is a very easy going and happy puppy (although he does like to bite me – hard!). When we do find time to train, he learns frighteningly fast. I often don’t understand how he can make the connections so quickly. Today, we started working on heelwork. I think it’s great to get video of the first time we do something, so the camera was ready today. Here is our very first session on heeling:
After a nap on the kitchen floor, we tried again:
The third session was on just standing in correct position by my left side. I just feed him as long as he stays there:
He is so much fun to train! I will try to find more time for training him in the coming week.
Wilco and I haven’t really done much training. He sleeps a lot, which I love! But I’ve tried to let him do a little work for his food today. Puppy in dog bed gets food. Puppy outside dog bed does not get food. Unless I give his release word (“fri”). He learns very quickly.
13:20 – I was going to feed him lunch, but he fell asleep. I don’t want to wake him up, so I’ll have a cup of coffee and wait for him to wake up.
13:45 -He woke up when I needed to get up. After a potty break outdoors, we went into a room with his bowl of food. He was still a bit tired, but hungry for food. I held the clicker behind my back to begin; you don’t want to scare the puppy with the sharp noise of the clicker. I took a big chunk of food in my other hand and held it behind my back too. I stood completely still. Clicked. Brought out the hand with food and let him have a little taste. Then I took both hands behind my back again and repeated after a few seconds. After a few times, I started to look for behaviors to click. As he was standing so nicely, I decided to click standing still and when he moved a back foot to correct the standing to a better position.
14:00 – A little walk with Win, Pogue and Kat. Wilco really tries to get the grown-up dogs to like him, but they are not giving him any response to his polite attempts to make contact. I feel a bit sorry for him.
14:30 – He’s fallen asleep again. I thought that he would be full of energy now, but he likes to sleep in the afternoon.
15:00 – He woke up when I moved, but just chewed on his toy. I’ll take him out when he gets up.
15:15 – Pottied outdoors, and fallen asleep again. I’m trying to make treats for him in the oven. Ground lamb, eggs and psyllium seed husks mixed. We’ll see how it turns out!
17:00 – Slept until now. Woke up when a friend came to visit. He is energetic and wants to bite everything while we have coffee.
18:00 – We go for a little walk with my friend and her puppy-friendly dog.
18.30 – Sleeps some more while we do herding with the grown-ups.
19:30 – Out to potty, and we do a little training and socializing. I introduce a release cue (“fri”) when he offers sit, and I get a few successful recalls when he is greeting another dog.
19:40 – Plays on his own indoors.
19:50 – I take him out to potty. He falls asleep when we get in.
20:00 – Sarek barks in the other room and Wilco wakes up and looks a bit worried. I let him have a few pieces of kibble on the floor, and he eats them before he falls asleep again.
20:15 – Thomas lets his dogs into the house after a walk and Wilco wakes up. I take him out to potty again and when we get in, he lies down in his bed.
20:35 – Two accidents in the house in five minutes. Fail!
20:40 – A short walk along with Epic and Squid
20:50 – We work on going in his bed, staying there and leaving it on “fri” while Thomas is using the vacuum cleaner in the same room. Good puppy!
21:15 – Dinner, and a raw stalk of broccoli to play with/investigate for dessert. And then out to potty of course.
21:30 – Playing with his broccoli
21:40 – Accident in the house again.
21:50 – Out to potty with Thomas.
22:15 – Another potty break
22:20 – Fallen asleep under my chair
23:05 – Still asleep and I’m about to go to bed. Good night!
Today, I will report on how a day looks for Wilco, 8 weeks, and me. It’s a very ordinary day. Nothing on the agenda and rain outdoors. Thomas is at a sheep dog trial, so I’m at home alone with Wilco and most of the grown up dogs. Ordinary days are very rare here, so I’ll try to use it as well as I can.
7:10 – Wilco slept for eight hours and didn’t wake us until our alarm went off. Good puppy! Now out to potty.
7:35 – Breakfast. Wilco eats Vom og Hundemat – a raw mixture of meats and bones. He gets the puppy kind, and loves it!
7:40 -A 12 minute walk with Squid and Epic. He can come on our short walks as long as he ignores the other dogs and doesn’t do any other things that I don’t like. I suspect that this time of no herding other dogs will pass soon, and he will not be allowed on walks with the other dogs unless I am actively training him to behave.
8:00 – Playing with his toys. Playing a little bit with Sisko (Sarek’s sister, living with us for a week). Finally someone who wants to play with him! But she is a little too ruff, and play ends quickly.
8:20 – Asleep. Thomas has left for herding trial with Sarek and the kitchen is quiet. Time for me to have breakfast.
8:45 – Wakes up and walks to the door. I take him out to pee.
8:50 – He does not go back to sleep, so we play with a toy in the kitchen. I focus on tugging and that he drives back to me when I let the toy go.
9:00 – Full speed! He is biting my feet and throwing his metal bowl around. I want to have coffee and answer some e-mails. I try something that often works with small puppies. I give him pieces of apple (can be any fruit or vegetable really) to investigate/play with/eat. It works this time too!
9:30 – I did get some work done while Wilco was occupied with his apple and biting my feet. Let’s go for a small walk again. Sisko can come too.
9:50 -We’re back from outdoors. I brought two toys and tried to do as many recalls as possible. It wasn’t easy, as he didn’t want to leave me and the toys. He did follow Sisko or sniff the ground a few times, and I could call his name and play with him when he reacted. I also tried the switch game for the first time. As he as tugging on one toy, I would tease him with the other and add the cue “ja!” just before he let go of the first toy to grab the new one. It went very well! He was also rewarded for attention, as I couldn’t resist rewarding when he just wanted to stay connected with me when I took the toy away.
10:05 – Playing with his toys and apples while I work on the computer.
10:30 – Has fallen asleep under my chair after playing on his own for a while
10:45 – I get up to clean the kitchen counters. Wilco wakes up and follows me calmly. I try to ignore him and hope that he goes back to sleep on his own.
11:00 – Wilco walks into the livingroom, so I decide to take him out before there is an accident. We go out in the sleet and it takes a while for him to pee. When we get back in, I find a puddle of pee in the livingroom. When did that happen? I keep moving arount the room calmly while cleaning, and I wait for him to fall asleep. He does lie down often, but if I walk too far he will follow me calmly.
11:15 – He falls asleep in his bed after 15 minutes. He is no longer disturbed by me moving around.
11:30 – I decide to take the grown-ups for a walk while Wilco sleeps. I will attempt to sneak out without waking him… He wakes up, but looks calm. When I get out I check on him through the window. He lies down on the rug.
12:00 – Back from my walk and I look through the window. He is asleep in his bed. This would be a perfect time to go to the grocery store. I’m hungry and out of food. But my wallet is on the table next to the puppy. I have to go in and wake him up. He wakes, but stays in his bed, so I decide to go.
12:20 – I am greeted by a happy puppy when I get back. I immediately take him out and he pees a lot right away. I can’t find any pee in the kitchen. Yes!
13:00 – I get distracted by a phone call during lunch, and Wilco pees on the floor again. Soon it’s time for his lunch, and my plan is to introduce the clicker to him. I’ll tell you more about that in the next post.
This is how happy I am after getting to know Wilco (he is wonderful!) and running agility with his father Epic. Epic ran three clean runs this weekend. Two first places and one second place. He seems to jump much better after our long time away from agility with rest and rehab!
Will of course write more about Wilco and what we’re doing these first days. But first, some rest after this intense weekend!
I met Wilco and his brothers on Sunday. I was quite nervous actually. I already knew that I would love him, but would he like me back? We chose our puppies, but they don’t get to chose us. Fortunately, they are usually easy to win over, and I think that I got approved. Wilco seems to be one of the calmer puppies in the litter, he enjoys rest and food and relaxed in my lap. I like that! He’ll come home on Saturday and I can’t wait.