speed demon

I’m trying something new/old with Lu.

I know, I know what you’re thinking, “Em, you do this every couple of months”. At the moment I’m waiting on a reply from Polona about what I do next but basically the other day I set up a super easy little sequence.

And then I back-chained. And after each go she got a thrown ball and either a big jackpot play or hose game or something. And she seemed to really like it. Here’s the video from the other day:

(I left in all the inbetween playing bits for Polona)

Then I did a new sequence tonight which used a similar concept- building on really simple little sections  that didn’t involve any thinking or slowing down. Big open courses with no discriminations, no consequences for doing things wrong, no hard tunnel entrances, just RUNNING…
And… I think she likes it. I think this could be good for her. Really good. Really get her to understand that agility is about running fast, and about having fun, and just about go go go… and then when she’s doing that, add in a turn here, or a discrimination, or a tricky tunnel. Just one, and the rest about running. And then add another one. Which means no tough sequences for a while, no ‘international’ stuff. Just fun ‘novice’ level stuff. Which is ok.

A lovely thing was despite running running running, she hit all her contacts beautifully tonight. I love it when she does a good job- it’s just such an obvious hit – 2 front feet, smack bank in the middle/lower third of the contact zone.

Still working on Loki’s RC. He did 2 hits from a close wrap start today that were AWESOME… and the next 3 were leaps. But at least we’re doing the whole thing so he’s getting to the contact zone with some speed. Now it’s just a matter of him continuing to run down rather than leaping off cos he’s going too fast.



Our graduation video for Polona’s “Let’s Play!” class. Not much on there agility-wise but I think everything we’ve been doing will help Lu’s attitude so much when we finally get into our new house and have our own field to train in. Plus there’s plenty more games and exercises to help with putting together longer sequences that we’ll get to try then, too.



things and other things

I’ll do this one in dot point format

  • Tonight I took Lu & Loki out for a walk. I noticed that Loki doesn’t have that natural ‘turn back’ point that dogs seem to get – y’know, how they know their distance threshold and wait for you to catch up? He seems to just go and go at the moment. I started to worry about how the hell I was going to teach that to him and then I remembered I’d never done the ‘run off and hide’ or ‘turn around and walk the other way’ game. So I did that. Hopefully it will instil a healthy amount of panic in him that he’s been abandoned and he won’t go so damned far ahead of me.
  • I may have figured out a solution to Lu’s dogwalk turns problem. And I’m talking turns from 45-90 degrees, so nothing extreme. I noticed that even at that angle she was leaping – I think she was trying to get off sideways and quicker because I was cuing the turn nice and early for her, but it made her need to exit early… So I remembered how Silvia trains hard turns with a cone, stick, twig and decided to use the same principle. All I had lying around was a jump wing so I put that up against the end of the DW and BAM… no more leaping. So I think I’ll use the small white poles I used for our original RC training when it was flatter, and when she has the hang of that, transition to using a twig. And then fade the twig. Hopefully this will help her understand she has to stay on ALL THE WAY DOWN.
  • I’ve lost 2kg since Nic’s been away. 2kg in 2 weeks isn’t bad for not trying, hey? It’s what they call “malnutrition”. 😉
  • Penny got me a cool birthday present. Posted below.
  • I did cik/cap around a tree today at the highly-distracting-park-of-distractions but instead of boring old cik/cap, I initiated a game of 500-balls, and as she came flying back to get the next ball, I wrapped her around a tree and sling-shotted her out for the next ball, and then did it again, and then she got one just normally thrown straight. Speed into wrap=very very good. Yay!
  • Also, I won this polar-fleece rope toy at the competition the other weekend and tried playing with her with it, and she was all like: bleh, so I was like: ok, hows about I shape you to tug it? and at first I got little piss weak tugs and then more and more energy and now she’s tugging for food with energy and strength. And it’s funny because I remember looking into this ages ago and you read all over the internets how you shouldn’t do it this way, but why not? Polona says for dogs who love food that they learn it’s just another way to get the food. Meanwhile we’re connecting and playing a game and she’s focused and intense, so that’s got to be ok, right?
  • This might sound a bit funny but Lu is actually drooling for food now. I don’t think she’s ever drooled before, but she’s seriously drooly at the moment. It’s cool. I love seeing her WANT something. And yet, in circumstances where she doesn’t want the food (eg. out on a walk) I don’t even bother offering it now… it used to be like, if Loki did a good recall, she’d sort of look over like: oh, do I get some too? And Mal would do the same thing and everyone would get an obligatory biscuit… She doesn’t even look now, and I don’t even bother feeding. No more obligatory biscuits, and I actually think she’s happier like that. Sometimes if I try and give her something like an obligatory biscuit, like if she’s just gotten in the car, she hardly wants it. She’s all: “sigh, if I have to”. Funny dog.
  • We’ve been having fun doing “all in” sessions for Polona’s class. Basically it’s 30 seconds of FULL ON intense work – whether that’s agility or tricks. Usually it’s tricks for us because I just don’t have enough access to equipment (except my 2 jumps and I don’t want to overdo cik/cap figure 8s… Though I did do something else the other morning with a backside of the bar and a blind cross and some other stuff)…. But basically she knows there’s a bowl of food, and she’s figuring out really well that she just needs to work hard and fast for a really short time and then she gets a whole bowl to herself! And maybe there’s little rewards in between but usually it’s just the one big one. We like it. She seems to like it. I’ve never had such enthusiastic leg weaving. I can’t wait for the end of August when I can actually go out into my own agility field and do this exact thing with real equipment around and then go for a walk or something. It’s going to be so cool. Tell you what, this class has been fantastic for us. Yay!
  • I have a weird splinter in my heel and it hurts a hell of a lot if I push on it. Don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Hoping it comes out by itself.
  • Lu and I are adjusting to her constantly being on lead during our daily walks. Since she’s now attached to my waist she’s so much less annoying but I worry that it’s just making her more and more crazy for roos that we hear. They go crashing off into the forest and she jumps around at the end of the lead and then drags me down the track. Am I ever going to be able to let her off the lead? I really don’t know. I think this is just making her more desperate to hunt them. But my stress levels are much lower because she can’t, so I don’t have to worry about how long it’ll be until she comes back… I just don’t know if she’s going to be able to enjoy off-lead walks in the forest ever. Poor Lu.
  • I think a hoard of possums just crashed across the roof and freaked Lu and I out. That, or it was a freak burst of thunder with no clouds around.
Super cool birthday present! Done by team small dog. It's very cool and very accurate. I love how even Lu's weird brown-eye-splodges are there.

Super cool birthday present! Done by team small dog. It’s very cool and very accurate. I love how even Lu’s weird brown-eye-splodges are there.

dog of iron

Part of our “Let’s Play” class was to do some “Iron dog” tricks, to make sure they’re fit and strong enough to be able to run full speed.

What you’ll see below is the result of all Lu’s food play over the last few weeks as she obsessively wants to stand up on me because this is her new favourite trick, and the fact that she is now so intensely interested in the food that her brain is trying to explode a little. The whole sit pretty-stand-sit pretty bit where she’s basically just losing her shit is just her not being able to get her brain together to do the trick like I know she knows how to do. Bye bye thoughtful thinking dog!!


And look, she’s not Loki-like in her absolute frenzy of behaviours in the way that he is, but she’s so much more animated and keen than a month ago. It’s really cool.


So I’m doing this play class with Polona Bonac, and at the moment we’re working on food play. One of the things I’m having to do with Lu is for her to become really pushy and rude about food. So she’s being rewarded for poking, biting, clawing my hand with food in it, for climbing on me to get the food, for standing on me for the food. Sometimes I think she’s doing well until I see Loki when he knows I have food and he’s practically performing backflips against my leg to try and get to it. Now THAT’S pushy.

And I’ve had some time to think about this, and what it all means, and I remember reading Silvia’s updates on when Bi was a puppy, and she said:
And when she can’t do anything, when she is in a crate and other dogs get to play, she sure gets MAD! I was really hoping to get stronger, more confident dog as Bu is and well, Bi sure has tons of it! In her “it’s all about me” attitude she really reminds me a lot of La. I just love dogs who care more about how much *they* enjoy what they’re doing over my opinion. As I stated before: I don’t want my dogs to work for me. I want them to work for themselves.

And boy that first line reminds me of Loki. If I’m doing anything with Lu and he’s crated- even if I’m OUTSIDE with Lu and he can’t even see what’s happening, he SCREAMS. You can hear him from outside, screaming the house down. I don’t think he necessarily has an ‘all about me attitude’ entirely, because he does seem to care what I think, a bit, but you can tell that he WANTS the food, he WANTS the toy- for him! Not because it’ll make me happy, or because it’s what he should be doing, but because he wants it.

And that’s the difference with Lu at the moment I think. I think she does her tricks and gets her food because she wants the food, kind of, but also because it’s what we’re doing and it’s her job and it’s what she should do – same with agility. And toys – well, sometimes she plays because it’s fun, like when she brings me toys, but try and get her excited about toys in agility and it’s then what I want to do – what I want her to do, not what she wants.


So making her pushy for food is all about making her WANT that food. To put energy into getting the food without prompting from me. I need to be better about not telling her to “get it!” but let her just mug me. It’s such a weird change- if you follow Susan Garrett she does the ‘its yer choice’ game and all that impulse control stuff (and I did it with Lu, too), and now I have a dog who is very polite, and who would rather just relax about it than try really hard to get it.  Maybe Polona says it better than me:
The desire to do something has to come out of a dog. That might be the single most important thing when we are talking about motivation… I want my dog to be pushy, not the other way around. Pushy behaviors can be annoying sometimes (barking for food, jumping up and down when expecting to go for a walk,…), but remember – once your dog is willing to put energy to get something he wants, we can very easily channel this energy in to productive behaviors.”

So it’s sort of a change of mindset, though a very obvious one, I suppose. Just not something I’d thought about in great detail before. It’s funny, doing these exercises and games, I’m already noticing that she’s getting ruder when it comes to having food around. Which is GOOD! It means that when I come to wanting her to DO something for the food, she’ll actually WANT the food and work for it! Just in the meantime I have to laugh while she noses her way in as I’m eating something while driving.