breathe

Hey readers. Long time no post.

These summer holidays were W.I.L.D. I mean, I was sleeping in till 10am, lying in the hammock, napping on the couch, eating icypoles and not having lunch until 4pm. Outta control.

Between all that, I’ve set up a new blog to document my travels with Loki given that I plan to move us to Europe for at least 1-2 years at the end of 2017 and thought it could be a nice way for other dog-lovers to follow our journey and learn a bit about travelling with their dogs. It’s funny because living in one of the least dog-friendly places ever, I’m inclined to find National Parks in Europe and then google “National Park Name – dogs?” and of course every time the results come back something like “well yeah, duh, of course dogs are allowed” and sometimes “Yeah, duh, but on lead.” It’s taking a bit of adjusting to realise that dogs are pretty much allowed anywhere. Weird.

If you want to follow along, you can find it here:

breathofwildair.com

In the meantime I’ll probably only document training goals and stuff here as a way to have it recorded. Way less interesting than pretty pictures of Europe with Loki.

Loki goals for the beginning of this year:

  • Add speed when approaching weaves, start to add more obstacles before the weaves to increase inertia and continue to work on his hardest entries in this kind of scenario.
  • Dogwalk. Consider pausing running him in agility trials while working on dogwalk behaviours. Look into a class because seriously we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Otherwise try and consistently go out and do 5 minutes a night. That’s all. Just something, consistently.
  • Collection. Begin with collection recalls, add distance (me and him), then motion. End goal: some kind of collection with landing-side front crosses (relative or true collection depending on situation)
  • Jumping. Work through LM’s advanced jumping drills class.
  • Verbals/relationship/handler focus stuff. Martina’s Special Games class.
  • Jumping/self control. Continue playing with Mark buckets in between jumps (especially in small sequences of 3-4 jumps), to see if this helps with jump mechanics and with ‘keeping a cool head’.

 

Lumen’s goals:

  • Well, really, the goal with this dog is to just run hard, run fast and run clean…
  • Collection: I probably should do some kind of work to teach her to collect, it’s just so tedious.
  • Turns off the dogwalk. Same sentiments as above.
  • Obstacle discriminations, especially weaves vs. anything and dogwalk vs. anything.
  • Japanese turn timing. Actually not bad with Lu but can still improve and I think this turn is a really good way to handle a lot of stuff with her.

in the end

Well, the 2016 trialling and agility season has officially finished for us this weekend.

Thank. goodness.

Not that we haven’t had a good year. We’ve had an amazing year in terms of dogs and agility. But it has been non-stop weekends of trials or seminars for the last month and a half and all of us are ready to just stop, sleep, recover, rest. My hip-flexors are asking for a rest, my neck, my back, even my triceps, though I’m not sure what part they play in agility aside from maybe carrying the crate to and from the car. I imagine that if I have all these little niggles, that Loki is feeling exactly the same.

Some events, some seminars, have melded from last year into this year, but we have been busy. 2016 has been full. We’ve trained with some top Australian handlers, more than once. We competed in the Nationals and came so close to getting into the finals, with both dogs – at the fault of either one bar, or just not being quick enough. We’ve driven thousands of kilometers, trained with Jouni and Isabelle from Sweden, which was amazing. Trained with Dave Munnings – also amazing. I was told I could get a spot on the Australian Team for WAO but with everything else going on, didn’t apply this year. Lumen gained her Masters Jumping title, and her Excellent Agility title. Loki had no titles but started to knock less and less bars in his last few competitions, showing promise for what’s to come.

I feel like I’ve grown significantly as a handler through the second half of this year. I’ve improved my timing with both my dogs, but Lumen I think in particular, on certain handling moves, and have become more aggressive in the way I handle. I’ve learned how to work Loki through a course, and while we still have a long way to go, it’s the first time I’ve felt we’ve been a team.

My little training club on the side has grown, too, and I’ve been so enjoying seeing my couple of advanced students experience success, consistently, with their dogs.

The end of this year has opened up an idea in me, a potential for something exciting and scary in the future, for stepping WAY outside my comfort zone and embracing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. If I can make the pieces fit, if I can pull together all the threads that need to be woven, if I can find some other metaphor for ‘getting my shit together’, then maybe… maybe on the horizon in 2017 will be a year even more full, of learning, of experiences, of agility, of mountains, of hikes, of rivers and lakes and new friends. We’ll just have to see if I can pull it all off.

For now, we’re going to charge toward the end of the school year, wind down my classes at home, pack away the equipment, get back into conditioning (all of us!), hit the beach for long walks, try and avoid snakes, and sleep in.

things I learnt this weekend

It was our first trial back for a month and a half, maybe 2.

It was the first time in about a year that I entered Lumen in agility (not just jumping). My plan had been to use those two months to find a way to teach her how to do dogwalks, but then it got very wet and muddy and I trained it maybe 2 times. Still, I had a plan… though, we hadn’t trained weaves, a-frames or seesaws in those 12 months, either.

So, the learning bits.

Lumen:

  • Must train her what I’m on about if I do any kind of V-set. Once she decided that cos I was kind of in her way that maybe I meant go do the backside of the bar (but then not really so maybe just avoid the bar altogether???), another time she thought it maybe meant go out and do a tunnel somewhere???? So while I’m trying to be very helpful to her by shaping her line, she’s finding it very strange. Maybe I got in her way, I’m not sure, anyway, there’s work to be done.
  • Um…. practise on the A-frame. She missed 2/3 a-frame contacts and she’s my RELIABLE A-framer. Whoops. So, maybe actually work on an a-frame before the next competition. It’ll come back, she’s always been a beautiful A-frame hitter.
  • Maybe actually do some weave entries sometimes. Y’know. Even easy ones. Though I can’t fault her independence in them. A+
  • Holy moly dogwalks!!!! I only saw one of them, and I heard one of them and it sounded DEEP… I worked out, at home, during one of our two training sessions, that I just need to shut up. With both of them. No “go go go go go!!!”, just “GO!” as they get on, and that means go, unless I say turn. At home, Lu cottoned on to this beautifully and worked out all manners of ways to hit. Her turns of any degree still suck bigtime, but suddenly, even though she wasn’t going full speed, she always hit. What what?? So, having hardly trained dogwalks, and knowing how nervous she used to be on dogwalks, we went to this trial and I said “GO!” then shut up. One she didn’t get faulted for (I didn’t see it, too busy running) so it must have been in… one sounded deep, lots of feet right to the end (didn’t see it, too busy running), and one was a nice safe Lumen-y front foot hit. Confident and happy. Gone was my stressy high, no-separation hits that I used to get from trying to impose speed with yelling. Now she could work it out herself. And she wasn’t trotting, Lors no (been listening to “The Stand”), she was running – not full speed, but when does Lu ever do ‘full speed’? and she was happy!! So, lesson learnt. Shut up and just run, Em. She’ll make it work. She’s a good girl. Now if I can just figure out how to get her to understand turns. This is going to take some thinking, since she’s such a bouncy, non-forward-driving dog. Hmmmm….

 

And little crazy Loki-pants. Huh. Well, after 2 months of no trials he was a little high. Usually he settles by the 3rd run but no, there was no settling for my boy.

  • He has a very nice start-line stay. Good boy.
  • I have some ideas of some jumping grid type exercises to work on over the next few weeks that shouldn’t suck too bad or be too boring I hope. This was a weekend of many, many bars.
  • We should probably train weaves sometime. Maybe before a trial. I started walking him out if, after the 2nd attempt, he still had lost his brain and couldn’t do them even vaguely correctly. Boy’s gotta learn and he’s not gonna learn there’s anything wrong if he gets rewarded with more agility.
  • And dogwalks… well… they’ll come. He was just too excited.
  • I started working him with food outside the ring, doing heeling obedience-y type stuff, and this was actually lovely. He had fantastic focus on me and was able to ignore all the agility going on. No wrenching my arm off, no crazy-eyed whining as he watched, biting madly at his rope and getting my fingers in the process. Just a lovely, calm, focused dog. So, I’m hoping this helps. And I might start using food in training more, too. Let’s take Loki from OMG CRAZED NEED TO GET MY TOY AS FAST AS I CAN dog, to a bit more thinking, a bit more of a working dog. Yes. I think this is a good plan.

we did jump grids and they were fun

Yep. I don’t post in 3 months, and I’m here to talk about jump grids.

Go figure.

I hate jump grids. I hate the formulaic approach. I guess because I can’t see the improvement from them. Never have I done a jump grid and then seen actual improvement in jumping ‘in the real world’. So what’s the point?

But I saw a nice video of Justine Davenport doing “power jumping” with her dogs as part of their ‘cross training’ and I thought it looked like a nice strength exercise while not technically ‘jumping’ since Loki is sort of on a break (though, easing back into it now). Basically, from what I could see, the dogs were coming down a line of jumps set maybe 30cm high and bouncing them.

I went out and set it up, focusing for once, not on compression, but more on extension, I guess. I also set up a compression grid but we never ended up doing it. Maybe those are the grids I hate. The compression ones.

Anyway, we did this nice grid and it was nice. Then I moved a jump so he had 4 to bounce, then put in a stride, then do the last one. Then I basically made up my own rules. I spit on the rules. I’m a trainer without a cause. I did varying combinations of bounce and stride, on a whim! And we enjoyed it, thoroughly. I also love Loki not only because he is just amazing in general but also because I could stand at one end of the grid, hold his collar, point him down the grid, go: “OK, go go go go!” and he would do the entire grid in one direction, wrap a pole, and do it blazingly fast back to me. Two for the price of one grids. Winner. So maybe there is my solution to hating grids. Throw out the rule book. Do your own damn thing. Surely practise in general won’t hurt, and if he has any indication that bars knocked = not as exciting party times rewards, then maybe he’ll try a bit harder to not knock.

I wish he wouldn’t eat everything all the time though. Today he ate some foil that had melted cheese on it. Like… he had jumped onto the kitchen counters while I was at work. Also I think he ate something from the compost. I swear to god I feed him enough, but he doesn’t think so. I used to think Mallei’s food raiding was bad. Loki takes it to another level. I feel like, in general, his self control is at a 2/10. If I subscribed to the gospel of SG I would prescribe crate games and it’s yer choice.

They’re about as fun as jump grids.

agility: then and now

I was thinking, as I drove to the trial today, how I was looking forward to meeting the challenges of the courses I would run – maybe more with Lumen, in Masters, than Loki in Novice, but even with him there are challenges. I was looking forward to looking at the lines and the angles. I was looking forward to visualising where Loki would land based on the approach from the jump before. I was looking forward to making Lumen’s run as flowing and as smooth as I could, on the courses we would run.

And as I thought about all those things, I remembered how it used to be – at least with me. When I would run Mallei. I would drive there wondering what would go wrong, maybe, what he would do wrong (or right), with little thought to how my actions on a course would influence him. I was just steering the ship around in a fairly general and haphazard way and hoped he would understand what I meant. Didn’t we all? Relying on rear-crosses and big shoulder pulls and just yelling their name, a lot, when we didn’t want them to do an obstacle. We (or I, anyway) never looked at or considered the lines, only wanting to make our path easiest.

I quite enjoy the technical-ness of course walking now, in a way I never have. I enjoy looking at a part of the course from the perspective Loki would have upon landing a jump and consider the need to call him, to rotate my shoulders, to avoid the sneaky tunnel trap that didn’t seem obvious from MY perspective, but was like an inviting vortex from his. I really enjoyed walking the two Masters courses I got to run with Lu – the 2nd in particular, as there were multiple options for handling multiple sections of the course, and moved from somewhat technical, to big and open, and back again. A nice balance, I thought. Talking to the judge of that course later she told me that many competitors had complained about the first part of the course. It looked like this:

Heather's course

There’s about 9 ways you could choose to handle that (in fact I worked out 9 just then, for fun)! Trying to think of the best way to run it with Lu (we did forced front-cross, Japanese and lateral motion, but I could have possibly done another Japanese or K-turn type thing after 3 to bring her in tighter) was fun! It should be fun! It should be fun to try and strike a balance between convenient running for the handler and what will work for the individual dog. I will always, if plausible, try and choose a route that keeps Lumen in extension, for example. But maybe most competitors don’t think this way. I watched one team – with a small dog, not quick. The handler ran up to a bar – well ahead of the dog, and came to a stop. Waited for the dog to catch up, and then she rear-crossed. For me, planning and running feels like such a fun little technical exercise now, and with Lu, getting to know her more and more, I try and make it as smooth and effortless as I can. I know it’s not like that for everyone, but it’s interesting that despite the increased technicality in courses, some people are stuck in the ‘drive the ship’ kind of mindset we used to have.
My camera went flat today so unfortunately I have no videos and Lumen and my cool runs together (she brought down a bar in each), nor Loki’s one-bar-only run. Next time!

lessons from lumen

I feel as though Lumen and I are hitting our stride. It’s been such a wonky, unexpected journey.

This dog, as a puppy, wasn’t motivated. Hated drills. Still does. So trying to teach her a skill that requires some degree of repetition? Painful. I sort of gave up on her, especially once I got Loki. I thought she’s too slow, she’ll never be the dog I want to handle, I’ll never be able to do all the cool stuff with her. Plus she doesn’t really like agility, so whatever. She showed that she was pretty anxious about dogwalks in trials, so I stopped entering agility, only entered jumping. I’ve always liked jumping more anyway so it worked for me. I pulled us from all the trials over summer for this reason or that (too hot, too tired, too fluffy, too can’t be bothered). I stopped training her, for the most part. Sometimes if I had a course set up for Loki or for my Monday night class I would run her through it. Every time I ran her through I was surprised by how pleasant she was to run. How it was nice to have time. Time to think, time to catch her going wide, going to the wrong obstacle, time to redirect her if I needed.

I love running Loki, it’s the funnest. But he is like running while juggling chainsaws. Any slip, any accidental shoulder turn can result in disaster. In fact, I’ve had to tone it down with Loki, become a handler I never wanted to be. Rely on distance work over running, because running just makes him so frenetic and there’s no ways bars can stay up and he really needs to be able to THINK right now. So I’ve slowed down. I do rear crosses. I send him out out out and front cross him way over here.

And then I get to run Lu. Suddenly, Lu is so fun. So much fun. Never the dog I had expected, and it’s taken me 3 years with her to find this joy, but we have it, I think, it’s growing. Every competition, I come out laughing and loving her because I can be stupid and brave in my handling. I can look at a threadle and go: “Lumen HATES threadles!!! How can I handle this differently??” and put in a Japanese turn instead (on the course this weekend, there were 3 Japanese turns I put in because I know how much she sends out and didn’t want her thinking everything was to be serpentined and also call-offs from jumps are stupid and confusing for her, too. I need to be super obvious in my handling to keep her happy). I blind cross where nobody dares to blind cross. I race her, everywhere, all the time. I never stop moving. I shape every turn because she hates to turn so much. I trust her commitment so much that sometimes it’s too much and she runs over to me and goes; “You’re an idiot, what are you even trying to do right now?”. She will never be the winning dog, unless the winning dogs don’t make it around clear. Her jumps are HUGE, just because. She likes to get maximum height and minimum distance. Totally the most ineffective jumping style I’ve ever seen, but can you imagine me trying to do repetitions of jump grids with her? Ha! But she rarely knocks bars. And maybe with time and more experience, she’ll get more confident, get the hang of her striding, her jumping.

So I suppose Lu has taught me not to give up, to give things time, to enjoy a steadier pace, to not assume you have to have a fast dog to enjoy the run, that you can usually handle a setup in a multitude of ways, even if 90% of the handlers in the ring are all doing it the same. So today I am glad for Lu. I’m sorry to have given up on her for a little while there. I’m glad we’re a team, that we’re finding our ways to work together.

She is such a splodgy dork, after all.

in moderation

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting. I’ve actually become really good at keeping hand-written notes after our training sessions but it means I don’t need to vent here as a way of solving problems. Plus we haven’t had a heap of problems lately. Bonus.

I’ve learnt a couple of really important dog-training self lessons over the last couple of months. It’s been sort of an interesting shift in thinking. I find it fascinating when this happens.

Firstly, I’ve learnt that even if some kind of training method doesn’t look perfect at first, doesn’t mean it won’t look better on the second session, and even better on the third. This happened with our running contacts retraining, where in the first few sessions he didn’t quite understand driving to the Manner’s Minder… We’re on full height now, taking things fairly slowly, and getting consistently deep rear-foot hits. Not at speed, but I’m confident it will come. It’s actually been a nice feeling to do a session of say, turns, and see it not work, and have faith that it will come good in the session after, or even the one after that. I think it’s something I’ve never had before, faith.

Secondly, I’ve become much better at not over-training. I’m still working on this, but it’s better than it was. I couldn’t fault Loki’s dogwalk today on his second session of full height, but didn’t want to make things more difficult than I had, so we just stopped. I think last year, I would have kept going, raised the criteria, changed something or other and then become all despondent when it fell apart. I’m trying to do the same thing with sequences – run it once as clean as I can… fix the mistake part/s if I can, and then not necessarily run it again. Otherwise, take away the mistake parts to train a different way later (we had a course with a straight line of 3 threadles at the club the other night and he couldn’t really do it, so I set it up at home but made it easier and worked on it there). It’s a work in progress but this part of my training is coming along.

 

We’ve been doing jump grid type things, but in general I’ve been ignoring his bars when running sequences, unless he gets a bit out of control and knocks a bunch, or knocks one I think he should know better on. Maybe this isn’t fair and I should be consistent – either care or not, but caring made him too stressed, and not caring doesn’t teach him much, so I’m trying to go for a happy medium. He still takes himself off out of the way after we run a sequence and he gets his toy, but I no longer think he’s avoiding doing agility, but more that he goes out there and gets ‘stuck’. I know how to get him back now, so we’re getting past that problem. Stays are still a big issue for us. Big issue! The other day I tried being stern with him and letting him know my displeasure for him standing up… All of a sudden, the 2nd jump in the sequence was haunted and he forgot how to do backsides. Oh poor little stress collie. That ended that experiment pretty quickly! But I’m going to try and have faith. Sometimes I see moments of brilliance and I can actually do a lead-out… Sometimes it’s a bit of a battle between him standing up and me stopping and waiting for him to sit again, and again, and again. Faith.

herding!

I took the dogs herding today at Lumen’s breeder’s place, who also does herding lessons.

After last time Loki herded and got very, very, VERY stuck, I was curious to see how he would go. It’s so weird, the first and second times he herded, he was BRILLIANT. Kept great distance from the sheep, was so easy and natural… then we did this ‘competition’ and he was doing fine until we turned around and then he couldn’t do clockwise circles, he just got stuck on their heads… so I took him in today and almost instantly the pressure was too much. He ran at them and got all frenzied and then just wanted to stare at their heads. When I tried to wait him out, he went to the corner, sat down and stressed… so I tried to encourage him, moved around, talked to him, called him to me… lots of things… and a couple of times he got behind me, found balance, made them walk up, and then he would stress out and go back to their heads – his safe place. If he can make them stop, he’s happy. It didn’t help that Lu’s breeder was outside the paddock telling off another dog, so of course Loki was worried about that, too…. But… well, maybe herding isn’t for him.

And then I got Lu. Lu, my dog who cares less even when the most exciting dogs are running agility… who doesn’t show much interest in dinner, and none in car rides… who had been yipping and trying to climb the fence to get to go play with the sheep… DRAGS me down to the paddock, comes in with me, sits at my side and stays, solid, ready. I send her around, she’s a little crazy but not bad… and then she’s doing it, beautifully. She’s learnt from last time – when was that? 6 months ago? She’s not coming in as close, she’s not weaving back and forth, she’s keeping her eye out and working beautifully. Her stops … well, they need a bit of work, but she was happy enough to call off the sheep and come out with me after her turn, and then DRAGGED me to the water trough. This girl knows what she wants.

And then Mal had a go!!!! 12 year old Mal! Who has a herding title but was never very good because he just wanted to sniff their butts. Omg he was so good! He’s ‘old school’ herding style, before they taught them to kick out and give more space, but he cantered around and around and around and had the best time. THE BEST. He was so stoked. He proved he could hear me before we started, turning when I called him to me but then became conveniently deaf when I tried to stop him once he was working. He was lovely. He didn’t bite them, even if he cut one out to chase it. And he was happy. And so good for 12. I’m so glad I took him with me, I wasn’t going to give him a go but we decided why not?
THEN, Lu got to go out in the big paddock! There were 3 sheep out there and they were flighty as… running like CRAZY when we got in, even with Lu on lead. So we had to walk back and forth trying to calm them (which was actually a good exercise for Lu too – YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO OBSESSIVELY STARE AT THEM)… and when they calmed a bit, we released her and um… sheep everywhere… She had the best time, getting to do these BIG FAST runs to fetch them. And they were being NAUGHTY, and she wasn’t having any of it! She was bumping them with her shoulder, barking at them. Kate (the breeder) was really impressed that she didn’t give up – I think her litter sister had a habit of giving up, but not Lu! Finally we got them to me and they calmed down a bit and Lu worked on doing big circles, and then we put them through the Y-chute which was a new skill, and she did really well for her first time.

So hey… my girl is a herding dog, that’s for sure. She can do agility, whatever, but herding is her thing. So… I have to try and find time to do it with her, cos it was pretty fun today, and she loved it so much. She was a different dog when herding… especially compared to my, “sigh, do I have to? FINE..” agility dog… I wouldn’t say she was necessarily more attentive, as such… but hmm… different. More present. Yes, that’s what I’d say. More present and more purposeful. I liked that. I really want to try her on cattle, too. Apparently her litter sister looooves working cows… I reckon Lu would too, to get all cocky and angry at them, and not back down even when they put pressure on her.

Now to find some free weekends from agility… HA.

running & visitors

So I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about Loki’s dogwalk. In the session below we worked on soft turns to the right to start with, then changed to straight exits. It was the first time we’d done soft turns and so his style changed a bit and he had more misses but I do think he was trying, and I do think that if I keep working on those turns he’ll get better at it.

Some of his hits in this video aren’t necessarily the prettiest but I’m working on understanding at the moment. So I’m doing a lot of ‘starting on the plank’ and close wrap starts and letting him choose the speed. So this isn’t Loki full speed, this is Loki thinking speed. I figure once he really understands what he has to do, he’ll add his own speed especially if I stop using the Manner’s Minder at the end, too. What I’m really enjoying seeing is the amount of effort he’s putting into… I think hitting the towel? I think that seems to be his goal… which is what my criteria has been – feet solidly on the towel. Those high probably-accidental foot hits? Reward. One foot solidly  a third of the way down the towel? Jackpot.  He’s never seemed to TRY to hit something before like this – not the target mat, not the contact area… It’s so interesting to see him shorten or lengthen his stride as he comes down in order to hit. I’m also getting front feet hits which he’s never done before (not since we first started RC training anyway)… And which although Silvia discourages, I don’t mind. I think one of his big things is not wanting to put an extra stride on the down plank because it would take him too close to the edge. If he feels confident putting in that last stride and getting close to the edge, he should be getting lovely deep hits!

I figure my plan is to keep this setup for a while longer, until turns are looking pretty solid.. then I’ll raise it up and do the same thing again.. up, up, up… once we’re on full height… work on adding speed… and then gradually fade the ‘ground’ end of the towel, and then fade it all together. By that point it should be a pretty ingrained behaviour, it’ll just be changing the picture of where the ‘end’ of the DW is (because right now the end is hidden by the towel, of course) so depending on what he uses as a marker of where to hit will depend on how removing the towel affects him.

We have a visiting dog in our house at the moment. Lumen’s breeder let me borrow a young dog to do some filming with for a class I’m going to be running. I needed an untrained dog and so I’ve welcomed Zuma home for a week or so.

It’s been an interesting few days with her… my little ‘pack’ has really banded together to keep her on the outside, and she’s used to bitches being bitches that she’s not pushy and so hasn’t really tried to get anyone to play or be her friend… Loki has been the most interesting one, showing a lot of teeth if she goes near his face, snarking once or twice at her for little things… She’s tried to play a game where she chases him and then bites him on the back. That’s gone down as well as a ton of bricks. Lu has squashed her pretty badly twice- once being possessive over Nic (I suspect Zuma pushed in when Lu was having cuddly time with Nic), and once for a reason I don’t know. I’d been training Loki in this DW session and Zuma had been trying to climb through the fence… and the next thing I know Lu was pinning her and yelling in her face, and she’s crying and trying to get out. I suspect Lu was telling her off for being naughty for trying to get through the fence. She’s sensitive about things like that (she loves it when dogs or cats get in trouble, and she goes over to help tell them off. Apparently her Mum does exactly the same thing).

But this morning Loki and Zuma were starting to play outside, though Loki was a bit rough for Z… and a bit of wrestling inside until Lu decided to be the fun police and tell them off. Gives me hope though that when it’s actually time to get a puppy that their world won’t fall apart, and they might all get along and be friends. Even my socially awkward border collie.

running type learnings

So, I’ve been playing around some with Loki’s dogwalk again. I was using a target mat but as soon as there was any speed or turning he’d stop targetting. I don’t think he likes targetting so much. So recently I’ve started doing more like what Isabelle did with Finn (Fyn?) and Jenny did with Lili and letting him choose a speed to run down to a Manners Minder, and rewarding for low hits. I’ve put a towel over the end of the dogwalk to hide the edge a bit to try and desensitise him to it a little as I think he’s in a habit of hitting in certain ways at certain points…

Anyway, everything is looking pretty nice, I’m getting a variety of hits, a mix of quite low, and one paw near the middle, one near the top of the contact (still a good hit!). We’re working on a 60cm dogwalk, even though most people seem to do it with a plank from a table, we don’t have a table so I can’t do that.

I’ve also done one session with hard turns, using a pole at the end and that was really nice… and once I feel confident he’s understanding his job more, I’ll work on soft turns by moving the MM.

But like… I don’t know if I trust my own training skills… There’s a class that Martina Magnoli Klimesova recommended – a Portuguese trainer, and I was thinking of signing up… but I kind of like what we’re playing around with, I think we’re heading in the right direction… I don’t want to start something completely 100% different… So anyway, I emailed her with what we’re doing and if it’s kind of similar maybe I’ll join. An extra eye and more experienced expertise can’t hurt anyway. I just don’t want to spend a crapton of money to then not really get much out of the course/not like the method/whatever. Hmm…

 

We also played on our fancy new height see-saw today (90cm at the top end! Yes!!!) and Loki did so awesomely. He doesn’t do the big powerful SLIDE onto the contact, but he gets there quickly enough for a first session. I don’t know if he’ll ever slide… maybe he will with more confidence. He did very well on the new height. He’s a lovely friend.

Weaves are on hold during break, as is jumping… I’m working on stays and have a bit of a plan of attack, including a new ‘setup’ routine that will help him get ‘unstuck’, as he’s getting VERY sticky when training at home.

One thing I do need to work on is listening skills… Once he has it in his mind to do something and is committed to it, it’s so hard to get him to do something different. And his commitment point for most obstacles is like, 7 meters away. 😉 I’ll think of some games I can play for this kind of skill. LISTENING GAMES, LOKI. ❤