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 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 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.