Finally managed to get Dylan up to the club! This was our first Sunday training session of the new year, and Kim worked nicely in the morning on her dogwalk contacts in particular. Dylan and I only worked for 10 minutes or so after Kim and finished, just playing around the equipment and through a few pipe tunnels. He really enjoyed himself, and so did I; he’s really responsive, but looks to me for direction a lot more frequently that Kim did. Hopefully his confidence will grow as he works more and more around the other dogs and on working a course by himself. He’s still a bit leggy so his speed can be a bit hit-and-miss, depending on where his legs are going!
The A-Frame was on a lower height as well today, so I took the opportunity to walk Dylan over it a few times. The first time was a bit scary for him (!) but after that he was trotting over it beautifully, completely unfazed. I left it at that; no jumps or weaves, although they were available, since I want to make sure his growth plates have settled before he begins anything overly strenuous. I think that will end up being at about 14-16 months, so we have a long time to perfect everything else first! He also had a great time making friends with Bailey, Tilly, and Farley, and trying to say hello to Woody who shares Kim’s general dislike of puppies, and tried to bite his nose.
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 has had a very naughty few weeks! He’s getting a lot more boisterous with the girls and is tending to push his luck more often when we’re training. He hasn’t been so naughty as to annoy me (but then again, I’ve had lots of practise with the stubborn terrier in Kim!) but he’s definitely testing his limits! I think poor Mollie is suffering the most – and I think she might end up getting knocked down the pecking order in the end. Dylan will already steal her toys, treats and breakfast/dinner if he can, and she doesn’t do too much to stop him. Poor lass!
A very clear example of his general naughtiness is that he has eaten all the harnesses we own – and we own quite a few, since each dog has a flyball harness, a spare, and then some spares. (Although he did leave Mollie’s untouched, for some reason!) He was quite crafty, and ate only the buckles, so the harnesses looked intact but sekritly were destroyed. Sometimes I think he’s just pretending to be stupid!
Training is going really well though, he’s got so much enthusiasm and he’s really enjoying working. Just sticking with obedience and things like trotting poles, left/rights, go-ons still. We start back at agility training in February so hopefully I’ll be able to do some basic stuff with him then – Kim will be missing Sunday training for a while since she’s competing on Saturday’s pretty much throughout Feb – and so he’ll have my full attention.
It’s been a whole week of new experiences for my Dyl this week! The Christmas Tree has gone up, which was very confusing, but he’s been very good with it. I did find a chewed up bauble this morning, which was undoubtably him, but I think Kim had something to do with it too, since she looked very guilty and ran away when I picked it up. Our normal routine is just generally disrupted at the moment, what with late-night shopping and unexpected guests popping in, and there being no agility/flyball training.
Also introduced him to some “trotting poles” which in theory will make him think about his paws. In practice, he just knocked them over with his nose, but we’ll get over that. We used to use trotting-poles to regulate the horse’s stride, encouraging him to extend or shorten as required. In this case, even if it just gets Dylan thinking about where his paws are and where they’re going, it’ll help for obstacles like the dogwalk, or jumps. Speaking of obstacles, I got out the big hoola-ring today and propped it up with some sticks. It looked like a very enormous tyre, and after some initial wariness Dylan was running through it without a problem. I’d rather introduce him to things like this now, then the “real thing” won’t be as scary.
We’ve also been doing a little bit of target training outside, but nothing too much. Both Kim & Dylan are getting there with it – Kim’s been practising on the staircase, but I’ve held off doing that with Dylan because of his joints.
Anyway, generally very proud of the lad today, he did a full 25 minutes worth of training. I’ve been varying the length of time I work with him, starting off with only a couple of minutes and then 10, 15, 20, and so on. Tomorrow I think we’ll only do 15 minutes or so to balance it out (depends on the weather!)
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!
Tuggy-work is out of the window at the moment, because pup is getting his new teeth through. He tries to tug but just ends up splashing blood everywhere, so we’ve working with ice-cubes and treats right now. Poor lad!
Anyway, he is starting on his right turns now, and I’m hopeful that he’ll pick it up. Fingers crossed that those big teeth come through quickly!
Dylan is growing like a mad thing, and is officially past the big 6-months mark now. I’m really pleased with his progress at the moment, he’s responding well to all his commands and is eager to work. His “left” is brilliant, and his “right” is coming on nicely, which is great.
He had his first agility competition trip last week, to the indoor Lune Valley show at Myerscough College (Kim was competing!). He did himself proud, since he behaved perfectly, charmed everyone and wasn’t even the slightest bit phased about the noise, the hundreds of dogs, or the people. He had a great time watching the rings too! Seemed particularly interested in watching dogs weave, which bodes well!
Yesterday we had a trip out and visited K’s house. Dylan had a fabulous time playing with Jet, but we did a very quick 10 minutes with Dyl on tunnels and weaves (well, not exactly weaves – wide open channel weaves, so he only had to run in a straight line). Tunnels were no problem, he was bombing through those in no time. Weaves took a bit longer but we had some good speedy walk-throughs, so I was really pleased.
I’ve decided to start a blog for Dylan. Dylan is a 5 month old Working Sheepdog puppy, my first proper Collie dog and my first dog bought with the intention of doing agility and flyball in the future. That doesn’t make him any less loved, of course, nor is he missing out on his puppyhood. At the moment he does 10 or 15 minutes of training a day, currently just basic commands. At the moment he knows sit, down, paw, heel, recalls, fetch and has a nice present and finish. Then we have 5 or 10 minutes of what I tend to call “flyball training”, although it’s equally as good for just letting us play by ourselves without the girls for a while.
Flyball training, by the way, consists of one puppy, one tennis ball, one tuggy and me. I chuck the ball across the garden and Dylan bombs after it, currently without much co-ordination but lots of mad enthusiasm. He has to fetch the ball back to me, and then he gets to play with his tuggy. The tuggy is always the reward and I never keep going for too long with him. He’s already got a fair turn of speed, but he’s also a very lanky boy. Patch, Dylan’s dad, is a big collie and has had some injury trouble from starting to run off the box at a) too young, and b) with a slammer’s turn. Because he’s going to be such a big dog, I’m going to do low jumps etc with him at 12 months, both for agility and flyball, but the box will have to wait until next winter. That’s a long time, I know, and some dogs would probably have been competing in Starters by the time that Dyl learns the ropes, but I’m in no rush and neither is he.