WAO Time

Now I’ve got my rant for the week over with (see previous post), I can go back to thinking of fun things to do with Rio.

Our goal this week is to go back and do some more motion sensitive stuff, maybe some more door-shutting stuff. We haven’t done anything like that in a while. Her tug/dead toy work is going well so we’ll keep working on that as well! She’s also doing much better on walks with Dylan, less flattening him and more getting on with being normal (as much as is possible for Ri!)

She does seem to be a bit soft and sensitive at the moment (not compared to Dylan or even Kim, but for her) so I’m not sure if that’s just the fabled fear period raising it’s head, or maybe she’s being hormonal, I don’t know. Speaking of, I wanted to give Rio the chance to mature for longer, but I am not looking forward to the whole bitch-in-season thing. I can’t wait until she can get spayed. How do people keep entire bitches?

In between training the dogs, I’m keeping track of the WAO results. I think it’s kind of sad that the UK doesn’t seem to support it’s teams in the same way as, say, the USA. Maybe we just aren’t as vocal about it. I am excited to see how some of the English guys do, especially since I actually know some of them this time. I am also a tiny bit jealous, one day I would love to be there. I have said before (even relatively recently) that I didn’t want to try to compete at Championship or above level. Apparently things change, because I now think I do want to do that. Right now it’s not exactly feasible, seeing as I have one sensitive little soul and one tiny puppy, but maybe at some point in the future I’d like to challenge myself to be successful at that level.

Sunshine

april10

april3 Finally something other than rain!

Rio’s puppy training day sadly got cancelled; the high winds and downpours made being around the equipment unsafe, and I’ll admit I didn’t much fancy going out when I saw the state of the weather on Sunday morning. Hopefully we can find another training day some time soon.

Today we mooched around Digley, with all the dogs. It’s getting increasingly difficult to take them all out together, because Dylan and Rio are off on exploration mode, and old dogs have a tendency to get left behind. On the other hand, Dylan is improving so much in his interactions with other dogs (or lack of), that I don’t feel so anxious about taking Rio out with him rather than super-awesome socialite Kim. He’s been perfect on our last two meeting-other-dogs kind of walks, ignoring and moving away from other the multitude of other dogs without panicking, including some extremely persistent small dogs who wouldn’t take a hint or listen to their owners.

april5

Rio has learnt to nose touch a target in an afternoon yesterday, so our goal today is learning to stack on blocks. Which should be interesting if nothing else!

Fetch

I want some snow, we have a lovely covering of heavy frost this morning and it really makes me want some proper winter weather.

Rio and I have been working on her bringing toys to me this week. She’s very toy focused and loves interacting with me and tuggy, or chasing toys when I throw them, but wasn’t too keen on bringing them back. So that was our mission this week! She’s now bringing everything back to within a foot of me and either getting immediate tugs or a “leave” and then tug. Time to take that game on the road I think, we’ll try it at the park next week.

I don’t think I mentioned that we have a right-spin perfected. Rio actually came up with that herself, we were running through tricks and after her left spin she figured a right spin would be appropriate. As suspected she has a tendency to offer right spins more often than lefts now, I need to remember that as we go on!

She also has “go to bed” sorted and will trot off to her crate for a nap. She’s lying in it right now watching my parents build a shed outside, with the door open. She’s also really improved at being left alone whilst we go out (or I think she has, it’s kind of hard to tell when we’re not at home). At any rate, when we come back she’s clearly been asleep, no ripped up bedding or anything so I’m assuming she’s sleeping through it. She is also starting to settle down during the day more which I like!

I am doing a bit of online-window-shopping for dog brushes this week, and also need to flea the big dogs. I’ve been putting it off as I really don’t want Rio to ingest any flea stuff but she has a habit of ragging on Dylan’s ruff when they’re playing and I can’t figure out how to keep them seperate for 2 days.

Search

[singlepic id=329 w=320 h=240 float=none]

It’s pretty cold and miserable outside, and I get as bored as the dogs do indoors. So we play games!

Search is the absolute favourite game, where I hide treats in the other room. I hold my hand cupped around the dogs’ noses, and they take a deep breath, and then get let lose to find the treats. But it gets a little competitive, these days. We can’t play all together any more, because things like vases and sofas tend to get overturned by the rampage.

I’m not entirely sure Dylan gets the game, although he actually has the best nose of anyone and is great at Search when we’re hunting down lost toys on the field. He doesn’t take a deep breath like the girls do! Mollie and Kim are so cute, they both shut their eyes and take big sniffs before setting off … not that it helps Kim in any way whatsoever, she has a terrible nose. I have to hide some in easy to see places for her, otherwise she just runs around frenetically shrieking at everyone else to stop eating her treats because she can’t smell anything.

Tires everyone out though, so maybe we should play it more often.

[singlepic id=330 w=320 h=240 float=none]

Clicker Day

It feels like this week has just flown by. I’ve been out every evening from Monday to Thursday, at work all day, and pre-occupied making decisions about other people’s dogs. I’ve been neglecting the dogs I do have, and I felt very guilty about it, so we had a fun hour playing some clicker games this evening, which we don’t do nearly as often as we used to.

Kim worked on her “fetch the cauldron” trick. Kim is a little witch, so she needs a cauldron! We made huge progress on this today, she went from being a little bit hesitant to being totally confident and throwing the cauldron across the room at me. Not quite what I was aiming for! We chilled that down a bit, and she’s fetching it nicely. The only problem I’m having is that the handle is very thin plastic, and it’s a bit sharp on her gums, so she’d prefer to pick it up by the rim. I’ll try and fleece-line the handle for next time, so she has something to grip.

Dylan worked on putting toys in the cauldron. He too would prefer to throw it across the room at me, but we made a tiny bit of progress. Dylan’s fetch wasn’t very strong a couple of months ago, but we’ve been working on it and he will now bring things right to my lap, which is good! Getting them in the bucket is a bit more difficult, but we had a better hit rate towards the end.

I love watching both dogs getting annoyed when they’re working with the clicker. I know that’s a naughty thing to say! But it makes the pay-off for both of us so much more rewarding. Kim is always frowning when she’s figuring something out, you can see the cogs whirring away, but she goes all sparkley when she figures something out, all excited and happy and barking at me in her smiley voice. She likes it complicated, she wants something to puzzle over. Dylan, on the other hand, is always impatient and huffy when he’s doing something new, he makes lots of noise and complains a lot. I always have to break it right down for Dyl, he gets too annoyed about complicated things. He reacts differently when he eventually gets it right too, by just relaxing and offering it again and again. I don’t think the tension (pressure?) he feels when he’s working on something is entirely negative, he doesn’t shut down or give any stress signals. He just finds it frustrating!

Looking forward to tomorrow, flyballing at Doncaster, and then my month of agility which I’m very excited about! I have four shows, and am running three dogs, although thankfully not all at the same competition! I have Dylan and Katie’s lovely Jet at Waldridge Fell, and then Dylan and my lovely Kim at Newton Heath. Should be fun!

Trick Training: Fetch My Hat

Well, we learnt a fun new trick today! It’s called “Fetch My Hat”, and means Kim (or Dylan, whoever is there first) takes off my woolley hat, either off my head or off someone else’s head, and gives it to me.

Dylan picked it up in about 10 minutes, but he’s quicker to offer new behaviours for the clicker and he’s always had a bit of a thing for hats anyway. Kim took a bit longer, we worked on it for 5 mins last night and she was super quick by the end, but she needs to feel it’s worth it. This morning she was a bit unsure, so we abandoned the clicker and the treats and just made it a game, which worked a lot better. She’ll happily sprint across a room and over furniture to steal people’s hats now.

I have to admit this is a hilariously fun game, especially when I ask family members to wear the hat. Dylan is super gentle about taking it off my head, but then he has to do a lap of honour before actually giving the hat back. Plus, he’s pretty dribbley, so my hat ends up kind of damp. Luckily I have many hats, so I can swap them about. Kim is not dribbley at all but she is impatient and doesn’t care how much hair she pulls out. She doesn’t mean to, and she’s very gentle around people’s face and ears, but whipping it off the top of your head when you’re sat down sometimes yanks out some hair. She doesn’t care, she just likes killing the hats.

We have to work on stopping the hat killing, actually, but apart from that the trick is polished. So, what to do next? We’ve been doing some prep work for “out of the washer and into the dryer” (our washer and dryer are right next to each other) but that’s not quite there yet. I’d like to teach them to limp, but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that yet so I’ll leave it a while, I have some ideas but they need fine tuning! I’d also like to teach “put your collar on” but Kim works with her paws, not her nose, so I’m not sure she’ll pick that up. Dylan probably could though … Hmm, we’ll see!

Growing Up

Dylan and Jet

Dylan and I had a lovely 20 minutes playing on the agility equipment last weekend – just a jump, a tyre and the single bottom part of the stretch. He’s so much more responsive than Kim is/was already, although he still gets a bit distracted! Especially since his gorgeous girlfriend Jet was there, supposedly practising her obedience for Crufts, but secretly just tempting my boy away.

We’ve had a really good week this week; Dylan seems to have grown again, and he suddenly doesn’t look so much like a puppy anymore. We’ve been working on all our usual commands, and we’ve also mastered “heel” (left side) and “side” (right side), and “through” (through my legs).

The poor lad won’t have much to do next week, since Kim and I are at Crufts. Dylan will be staying at home with my dad and sister, but he won’t be doing any special training.

Dylan's Blog – Feb

Dylan’s first snow! And we’ve had a lot more of it that expected. Not quite as bad as Wales or the Southern counties, but still a couple of inches more than we were predicted to have. Anyway, Dylan has had a fantastic time playing with the girls and generally being loopy, and he also thought this morning would be an excellent time to go chasing the ducks. So he came back from his walk dripping wet as he swum right out into the center of the res after the ducks, despite the water being absolutely freezing. He didn’t seem bothered though! Dyl was very chuffed with himself, and luckily he didn’t get cold.

Obviously because of the weather, any outdoor training is a bit difficult! So I’ve been working on his tricks again, and this week we’ve almost mastered Speak (bark on command) and Stand-up (on hind legs), and he’s doing Back (backing up) really nicely now too. I can see why people get so hooked on having collies; they really do have a lot of enthusiasm for whatever you ask them to do.

Dylan might be coming to the flyball competition tomorrow with us (providing it the snow clears up!) but he might also not, since it depends on how we fit the box into the car. Due to a whole bunch of unforseen circumstances, my mum has ended up being team captain for tomorrow, and so we have to take the box, the balls, myself, my mum, K & Poppy, Kim & Mollie down to Newark. Unfortunately there might not be room for Dylan! He will definitely be coming to EMDAC with us next week though, and probably to Newton Heath the week after.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I have been completely caught up watching Dare (Altricia Wishing Silver at Borderstorm AW) on her webcam, waiting to see if the latest litter of Borderstorms have arrived yet! Very sad, but we’ve been following Dare’s Puppy Blog since her last litter in 2006, and it looks like she’s got a lot of people wondering what she’s going to come up with this time! From the number of hits on the webcam, it looks like I’m not the only one being nosy …

The weather has been so bad over the past few days, here as in the rest of Britain, so I haven’t been training outside. Agility training is a bit hard to do in the hallway, so we’ve just been working on little tricks and commands, to keep Dyl’s brain working. Over the past few days we’ve mastered “beg”, which is a bit over-enthusiastic at the moment! Dylan’s paws are enormous, and his beg doesn’t quite have the cute-factor that Kim’s does!

We’ve also been working on “dead”, which is going quite well, providing there’s nothing to distract him. It’s hard to persuade a 9-month old Collie that lying very still is a good idea!

Dylan is looking great at the moment though. He’s very obviously Patch’s pup, but he looks a lot more ‘Border Collie’ than I thought he would; Lassie looks a lot like Mollie, and Dylan does have some of that about him, particularly in the tuck of his tail and his topline/shoulders. He’s also quite dark, which I didn’t think he would be. As a tiny pup he had quite large white markings, but the black has taken over! His face is still quite white but the rest of him isn’t. He’s also developing speckles in his coat, although they are quite sparse still. I wish I could get some photos of him to show you all! Unfortunately the camera is on the blink, so I’ll have to wait until I get a new one/fix this one. It won’t be tomorrow though – Kim is competing and Dylan is going to have to stay at home, despite (or maybe because of!) the fact that his lovely girlfriend Jet is competing in her first official competition tomorrow. Dyl sends lots of kisses your way, Jetly!

Dylan's Blog

We haven’t really been working on anything new this month, just improving what we already have. Lefts and rights are nailed, and target training is going really well. Plus all the basic obedience seems to have kicked off – finally! – too. His heelwork is getting nice, presents and finishes are good, and his stays are really improving too. He’s kind of got “dead” too, although my Dyl boy always looks suspiciously alive when he does it, usually because his tail is wagging.

I have to say I’m really pleased because he’s learnt “catch” too. You wouldn’t believe how long this has taken to teach him – for some reason he couldn’t grasp the concept of having to move his head and open his mouth to catch something thrown at him. Toys and treats just bounced off his head! He’s got it now though. I don’t think I’ll be doing Crufts flyball with him in the future, but if I do, this is a great command for him. I’m using the same technique I used for teaching Kim to catch, and Kim is amazing at catching. Dylan is first put into a down, and then he get’s the command “catch”, which actually means prepare to catch. Kim demonstrates this best when she effectively goes into a play-bow, which is ideal for Crufts flyball. Dylan is beginning to do it, which I’m really chuffed with. And then I throw the ball/treat/whatever. It’s such a silly small thing, but it’s an achievement for him!