Thursday, March 12, 2015

Herding Instinct Test

On the weekend, Rundle had an opportunity to go to a herding instinct test. All of my Berners have been tried on sheep but this is the first time I have done an actual instinct test.  I wasn't sure what to expect of Rundle. I know he has a strong chase/prey drive so I was a bit worried that he would try to run down the sheep and bite them. At the same time he is quite sensitive so I didn't know how he would take to a stranger (the evaluator) working with him while I was outside the pen. It turned out that I didn't need to worry at all. The evaluator came to get Rundle and take him in the round pen with the sheep. He followed her without hesitation and listened to her when she called him or tried to help him out.  He was confident with the sheep (until one turned to stare at him, then he wasn't sure what he should do) and he got them moving and seemed to have fun.  He did not try to chase down the sheep or bite them, thankfully.

Since I know very little about herding, I do not know exactly what the evaluator was looking for during the test. I know she looked for sustained interest in the sheep and she looked for herding behavior as opposed to strictly prey drive behaviour. This particular evaluator had strict criteria about what she was looking for and very few dogs passed the test. I think there were over 30 dogs tested and only 5 or 6 passed. Rundle had enough interest in the sheep that day to earn himself one of those passes.  

Herding is an interesting dog activity but one that is difficult to pursue unless you have regular access to stock and a trainer.  Although this was fun to try out and Rundle showed some interest, it is likely not anything I will continue with. Unless you are working with sheep often, the dog is not really going to learn what is expected of them.  Although herding does have a natural instinct component, there are also rules that a dog must learn, and that doesn't always just involves chasing sheep in a round pen.  So, it was something fun to try and a new experience for Rundle. 

My friend Jo took some video of Rundle with the sheep. This clip as near the end of our test and you can see Rundle start to get a bit distracted - maybe from the pressure of "rules" (you can see that with the use of the flag) or not knowing what was expected of him, or maybe he was just getting tired. It's hard work trying out new things.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Learning To Weave

One of my goals for this winter was to teach Rundle to do the weave poles. If you have the room, they are a perfect activity to teach indoors, and since I have made my basement livingroom into a training room, we have been using that nice space to learn the weaves. I already had decided to use the 2X2 method to teach Rundle. There are a few different methods to teach the weaves and each have their own strengths and weakness but I like 2x2s for the reason that they really break down the behavior and they emphasis weave entrances.  I am using a modified version of Susan Garrett's method that I find is working well for us.  Here is a link to the method I am using:

So far the weaves are going well and Rundle is really starting to understand the whole behaviour. We have been working on the weaves for about 3 or 4 weeks now and he can do 6 poles with very few errors. He rarely misses an entrance and we work on challenging entrances every training session. Where his mistakes happen are usually towards the end, and right now I am chalking that up to him still working to find his rhythm in the poles. If he enters smoothly, he usually finishes them accurately. He will get there - he is a big dog and really needs to use to learn his body to get going through.  This past week we have been working on adding more speed to the poles, now that he is understanding the mechanics of going through them. I have been running with him more and recalling him through the poles more - just to build some excitement and speed. Once he is finding a nice rhythm and weaving the 6 poles with confidence and speed, I will add another set of 6. Hopefully by the end of winter he will be weaving a full set of 12 poles happily and accurately.  

Here is a video I took last week. At the time of the video, Rundle had been doing 6 poles for just 2 days. He has improved a lot even since I took this video. He is also very excited when it is weave training time. For the last couple weeks, we have been training the weaves right before supper time.  Today as I was getting Rundle's supper ready, he kept running to the gate at the top of the basement stairs and looking down into the training room. He wasn't going to let me forget that we needed to practice :) So cute!

Just as an aside, weave poles are quite hard on a dog's body, especially a young dog that is still growing. I waited this long to teach the weaves for that reason. I am quite certain that Rundle's growth plates are now closed as he has not grown for quite some time now (he is almost 2). Even so, our sessions are quick and short. I count out about 6 cookies and when they are gone, the session is over. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


IN dog training circles you hear a lot of talk about "motivation". How to motivate your dog, what reinforcers to use and when, how to keep your dog "up" and happy and wanting to play these silly games that we ask them to do. There is never any shortage of advise for those dogs who seem to lack motivation in whatever training we are doing at the moment. Motivation, drives, reinforcers, control - these are all topics that can keep dog trainers talking for a long time.

What if the motivation and drive has less to do with the dog and more to do with the handler? We never seem to have discussions about handler motivation. I think people, other dog trainers included, just assume that if you are actively training your dog in some sport, you must have the motivation do to so. Or else, why do it?  Motivation for training in a dog sport comes in all sorts of ways. Usually having a specific, time related related goal, such as an upcoming trial you want to be ready for or a certain title you want to reach, is a hug motivator.  This gives you something to aim for and a deadline (as well as some pressure and excitement) to get training. But what if you have no trial coming up?  No deadline? Nothing to really motivate you and give you that push to be excited to train?  That is where I feel I am at right now. 

I have always said I would not trial Rundle until he was really ready and that has not changed. The problem is that I don't even have a glimmer of when that might be.  No, trialing is not everything, but it is kind of the point when you are training specifically for a trialing sport like obedience or agility. The thing is that I really like training - it is fun and rewarding but that alone is not always enough to keep my motivation up.  So, as a result, I have not been doing much in the way of training lately. I know I should sit down and make smaller, more attainable goals to keep me going, but I don't even really have the motivation to do to that. Sometimes when you get discouraged, you just need to let it pass and hopefully something happens to inspire you again.  At least that is what I am waiting for :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Go Outs

Rundle has been working hard on building the pieces of the utility "go out" exercise. We work on the send away to a nose target adding more and more distance. We work on the directional jumping part of the exercise, with and without actual jumps. We also work on the "turn and sit" portion. None of these parts of the exercise are 100% solid in either accuracy or distance, so I have not yet combined any of them.

The other day we worked a bit on the "turn and sit". I started teaching this by using 2 broad jump boards to limit Rundle's turning radius (I want a nice, tight turn and fast, straight sit). I then moved to a platform to get a more solid sit with no forward motion. I now am just using a paw target. It is very small and right now it is mostly just a way to get Rundle to move away from me and it gives him a reminder that he should turn and sit where he is and not move forward.  He is so cute when he does this and he tries so hard.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Catching Up

RThis blog is supposed to be a way for me to keep track of Rundle's training and to have record of our training progress. I have not been doing a very good job lately of keeping up with this. So, this is a bit of a catch up post.

In October, Rundle and I drove to the Langley/Abbotsford area of BC to attend a Hannah Branigan seminar. I have been taking online classes with Hannah since Rundle was a puppy and I just love her style of teaching. She is very good at breaking each exercise down into small pieces so that they are easy to learn. I debated going because it would be a long trip, through the mountains, most likely by myself. So I emailed Hannah to ask more about the seminar (it was an advanced seminar) and she thought it would be great for Rundle. So, I signed up and off we went.

The drive was long (13 hours) but in October there is no tourist traffic through the mountains, so the drive was fairly easy. We stopped a few times along the way to stretch and for potty breaks. Rundle was a great traveller. I was worried he would stop wanting to get back in the car, but he always just hopped back in his crate and settled quietly for the next portion of the trip. We finally made it to Langley where we were staying.  I turned the GPS on to find our hotel and it took us downtown, which was not close to the hotel at all!  I then used my phone to look up the address and found the general area where the hotel should have been. But it was not there. I was on the right street, it seemed, but both my GPS and phone told me I was at my destination, but nope!  Nothing. I finally stopped at a Tim Hotons and asked where the hotel was. It was just around the corner.  I found it and went to check in. They had no record of my name. Great!  Then she asked which Sandman I was registered at. I had no idea there was more than one and she said there was another Sandman on the other side of the highway. So she gave me directions and off I went. I found it easily that time, although when I went to the seminar, it seemed like no one could get their GPS to work properly in that area, so it just wasn't me. Anyway, the hotel was awesome!  I got a great deal booking using the Sandman  app, so I booked a mini suite.  It was small but had a separate bedroom in the back, which was great, as we couldn't hear the noise from the hall at all. Rundle was awesome in the hotel and made himself right at home on the comfy sofa.

The seminar was being held at TnT Kennels, about 15 minutes from my hotel. What an great facility! There were huge fields we could use to walk our dogs and a wonderful training building.  It was great to meet Hannah in person and she was a fabulous seminar presenter. She gave everyone individual feedback and was very positive and funny. The 3 days flew by. I wa a bit worried that Rundle would not be able to handle 3 days of working, but he did great. By Sunday he was getting tired, so I skipped a couple of the exercises or did not work our full time on the floor when it was our turn. I was very impressed that he stayed engaged the entire weekend and would use toys as a reward even on the last day.

Day 1:
We started by working on offered focus and engagement. We then worked on teaching specific cues for different methods of reward delivery. We also worked on disengagement during heeling and how to handle it. Hannah always stresses that the emotional response of your dog when working on something is very important. You do not want to build negative emotions into cues. So, the heeling portion of her seminar was all about keeping heeling fun, even if your dog makes a mistake. On day one we talked lots about criteria, stimulus control and emotional responses. All so very interesting.  

Day 2:
We worked lots on stimulus control. We also worked on sent away behaviours adding some distractions. Since so many of the advanced obedience skills involve sending your dog away from you to do something (retrieve, articles, go outs, gloves) your dog must be able to work simple behaviors away from before you start asking for more complex ones. If a dog cannot send to a food bowl with a person standing next to it, they are not ready to send away to a dumbbell, as that takes much more stimulus control then simply running to a bowl and eating the food then returning. We also worked on stand for exams and how to use our food delivery cues from day 1 to reward, depending on the emotional response of our dog to the approaching person.  We the. Worked on footwork stuff and figure 8s. We broke down the figure 8 exercise into small parts working separately on the outside turn, the inside turn and the straight away. We learned footwork for each portion and then used that footwork to cue our dogs. We also used eye direction as a cue for our dogs as well.  I have never thought about figure 8s so much, but when you look closely at them, they are quite complicated. 

Day 3:
We worked on building chains as well as transitions. Hannah builds chains for every step of her obedience routine, including entering and leaving the ring. It is all planned so the dog knows he is on the right path to reward. Very cool!  In the afternoon portion of day 3, we each got a chance to have a mini session with Hannah on anything we were having problems with. It was so interesting to watch her work with each team to problem solve their obedience issues. There was everything from dumbbell work, to heeling, and everything in between.  When it was my turn I wanted to work on focus around distractions, since that is a big issue for us.  So we worked on Rundle choosing to pick working with me over the environment. Rundle loved Hannah (I think he recognized her voice from all the videos we watched). So Hannah held food in her hand and we worked on Rundle working with me instead of focusing on her or the food.  It was hard at first but he soon was heeling around Hannah and her open hand of food without so much as a glance at her. So, there is hope for us yet :)

So overall, it was a great seminar and I learned a ton of new things. It was also nice to meet several people that I previously only knew through my online classes. It was so fun to meet them all in person.  Such a great group of people.  I highly recommend Hannah's seminars and I would go to another one again. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

More Scent Articles

Yesterday I blogged about Rundle's scent articles and so today I thought I would video tape our session. We added a bit more distance to the pile today, so right now Rundle is working with me about 15 feet from the pile.  Today we did 3 sends and we only ever do a maximim of 4 sends to the pile in one session.  It is interesting how Rundle is starting to develop a system at the pile. He always seems to go around the back of the pile and work his way to the front. I make sure to vary where the articles are placed so that he gets used to checking the entire pile.  I am also letting him bring the dumbbell right back to me now (no formal fronts required) instead of clicking as soon as he commits to the correct one and starts bringing it back.  If he does make an error, I just walk up and thank him for the one he brought me and encourage him to find the right one.  If he makes another mistake we just end the session.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back To Work

Summer is now almost at an end, so it is time to get back to training. We took most of the summer off of any formal training mostly because I was feeling a bit of lack of motivation. Dogs also need a training break and summer is the perfect time for that because there is always so many other things going on.  This past week we started working back on our obedience training and both Rundle and I seem to have a renewed enthusiasm. 

One of the skills we worked on over the last week or so, was scent articles. Scent articles are a good way to start back training because it is easy to set up and only takes a few minutes to get thorough a training session.  You also tend to see results (or lack of them) right away.  I am very happy with Rundle's work with the articles. He is happily running out to the pile and finding the article. It is not often he makes a mistake now, so I am adding more distance to the pile and more articles to search from. We are up to 10 un-scented articles in the pile, plus the scented one.  Today we did 4 sends with 2 metal and 2 wood articles and Rundle was 100%.  I think one time he picked up the wrong one, but quickly put it down again.  

For a while, Rundle was having some trouble with the metal article. I couldn't figure it out because he started scent discrimination with metal, so I know he can figure out that part of the puzzle. When I present just a metal dumbbell, he has no trouble picking it up and carrying it, so I know that was not the issue.  But, he would get to the pile with a metal article as the "hot" one and he had a very hard time finding it. He was tasting them (which I do not like) and hesitating near the correct article. So, I did some research on scent and how it works.  Once I did some reading, it was like a little light bulb went off in my head. Wood and leather are porous, so they hold scent much better than metal. Since scent does not "stick" to metal as well, that means the scent from the metal article floats away from the article much more than it does with the other articles. So, I started to scent the metal article much less. I had been rubbing it in my hand until it was warm, thinking that more scent would make it easier to find. Wrong!  More scent was just making it confusing for my dog because all that scent was floating away and towards the other articles, making finding the correct one more difficult.  Now I am holding the metal article in my hand (no rubbing) for about 3 seconds and placing it in the pile. What a difference that has made!  Rundle is now finding the correct article with much less obvious confusion about which one is the correct one. The tasting of the articles has almost diminished.  Hopefully that was the issue and Rundle continues to be successful as we add more challenges to the scent articles.  Since I cannot smell what Rundle does, it is sometimes a guessing game as to why issues pop up.  

We have also been working on heeling since that is the main part of obedience and plus, it is lots of fun. We are working on precision, of course, but also keeping heeling fun. We are working on changes of pace (mostly fasts) since Rundle has some trouble with those. We have also started to work on auto halts and those are coming along nicely, although I do not yet give Rundle too much of a chance to be wrong.  I want fast, straight halts, so I am helping him get that every time so we don't develop too many bad habits. Heeling is hard work!!!

I have a general training plan in my head and some training goals I want to reach by the end of the year.  So, lots of work ahead for us. Rundle is still far from being mentally mature, so we still have no plans of entering a trial anytime soon, so really there is no pressure.  Just train and have fun and see where it goes.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Scent Articles

In my last post I mentioned that Rundle had a set back with the scent articles and there seemed to be some confusion there - lots of tasting and picking up random articles and not committing to the correct one as quickly as he had been previously. After a couple days of this, we just took a break. We didn't do articles for nearly a week. Tonight I brought them out again, made the set up easy by me being close to the pile and having 6 un-scented articles out, two each of leather, metal and wood.  I started with his favorite (wood) and he did two perfect scenting/retrieves from the pile.  No tasting, no guessing. He was happy and confident searching for the scented article. We then moved to the leather article and again, two perfect sends with no hesitation. When we started the session, I had planned on not having him search for the metal article. Although he can usually finds it quickly, it is the one that he hesitates the most on bringing it back to me out of the pile. But, he was doing so well with the other articles, I decided to try a metal one. He was spot on and picked it up with no hesitation.  Phew!!!

Where to go from here?  We will probably stick to this format for a few sessions as long as Rundle continues to be successful. Then I will start to gradually increase the difficulty again - more distance from the pile, more un-scented articles in the pile, etc.

This was a good reminder to go back and make things simpler when our dog is struggling. Also, sometimes taking a little break is good!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Here!!!

I have been crazy busy the last few weeks with various things - work, dog shows, family stuff and everyday stuff. Hopefully most of that is behind me and I can concentrate more on training Rundle. It's not that we haven't been doing anything, but our training has not been as regular as it should be. I do need to sit down and make up a training plan for how I would like to progress on various things, but for now we have just been working on a few fun things here and there.

I try to work on a bit of heeling everyday and Rundle can now heel with accuracy, attention and enthusiasm for longer stretches at a time. We still break out lots and play or add in things like go around or hand touches to keep the fun in heeling. We now need to start adding more distraction to our heeling and since Rundle is easily distracted, that will be a challenge for us. 

We continue to work on all the obedience exercises a little bit at a time. Rundle thinks the broad jump is the best thing ever!  He also is loving the go outs to touch an object or mark - he can do this the entire length of the yard (I don't have a huge yard). I am teaching him a formal "mark" cue as well as starting to combine some of the directed jumping behaviours. His turn and sit still needs work at a distance though, so it will be a while until the entire chain is solid. But that's okay - baby steps are the key to training complex behaviours. Here is a short video of Rundle learning to do the go out between 2 jumps. He can do go outs and touch from across the yard to the stanchion, but since I added in something new (the jumps) we went back and made the distance short again so that he would be successful. He had no problems with this except for the time that my body language told him to go over the jump.  Oops! Video recording training sessions is great to see what we as handlers do wrong.  I could see exactly what I did to make Rundle take the jump - another reason I am such a strong believer in positive reinforcement training - Rundle simply got no reinforment for this.  If I were a compulsion trainer, I might have been tempted to "correct" Rundle for this "mistake" when in fact he did not really make a mistake, he was just going where I told him. So, nothing happened and he got to try again - neither of us were frustrated or confused.

We have had some regression in the last week or so on Rundle's scent articles. He was doing so well and was almost 100% on bringing me the right one.  Lately he has been tasting each article and has just seemed to have lost some confidence on which one to choose.  So, we have gone back a few steps, made it easier and hopefully we will get back to where we were soon.  There are always ups and downs in training so I am not worried about this. Rundle has a good foundation on the articles so I am sure it will all come together again soon. 

We have been working on the drop on recall, which has been very fun!  Rundle has a strong reinforment history for solid, fast downs so now adding them into the recall has been fun for him. It is fun for me too to see all our foundation work paying off. 

That's about all for now :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Some Heeling

I am posting a video of Rundle heeling. At this moment in time, this is about how much heeling I am asking for in a typical session. Not very much at all. Heeling involves a lot of attention, focus and precision and I would rather take a shorter session with all these components than a longer session that starts to get sloppy.  I also break the heeling off lots to keep up the reinforcement and enthusiasm. You can see in one spot, I asked Rundle to "get in" and he thought maybe he didn't want to. So, instead of forcing the issue and perhaps adding some negative connotations to our heeling, I changed plans and asked him to go around the pole (do you see a theme with the pole in much of our training). This added enthusiasm and fun to the rest of the heeling. Yes, I will need to go back and work on our set-ups but that was not the point of today's training so I didn't force the issue.

I have been trying to add in a fast pace to our heeling but Rundle seems to think that means jump on me. So we have a bit of work to do on that. I also have not been asking for sits at stops. I guess that is because I don't really stop much when heeling. I stop to reward with a toy or cookie. Or I break off the heeling by sending Rundle around a pole, through a tunnel, or a weave through my legs. I guess one day I should start to add in formal halts but there just seems so much more to do before I start that. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


Just a short video of Rundle working on the broad jump exercise. Of course, Rundle has not got to full sized distance yet because he is still young. Eventually he will need to jump three boards and about 38"- 40" depending on how tall is is when he finishes growing. Right now I only have him jumping about half that distance.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop On Recall

It is so fun to see all the pieces of our training start to come together to create something that is on the way to becoming a real obedience ring exercise. Rundle has been working on all the pieces of a drop on recall since he was a wee pup and now we are starting to combine them.  Recalls, downs and wrapping around a pole are all things that Rundle has been practicing since we brought him home. We are now starting to combine these into one fun exercises.

Rundle started learning a stationary down as a tiny puppy and once that was solid, I started adding a bit of distance. Then we added a moving down while Rundle was walking beside me or following me. Now I am asking for a down when Rundle is moving at a trot or run beside me. Basically, I want him to be able drop quickly no matter what he is doing.

What does wrapping around a pole have to do with a drop on recall?  Well, nothing really, but at the same time a lot.  Rundle learned how to wrap a pole and come back to me when he was about 10 weeks old. This behaviour has a long history of reinforcement for him and he thinks it is very fun. I can now use this fun exercise to make an otherwise boring exercise much more exciting. When you think about it, the drop on recall can be a boring exercise. Sit and wait until called, then down on cue, then complete the recall. When drilled over and over this way, it can be very boring for the dog and the handler.  But, add in something fun, like a pole, and it's a whole new game!  I can send Rundle out to wrap the pole and then on his way back, I can ask him for a down.  So this way, I can practice all the elements of the DOR, with the exception of the "wait", without turning it into a boring, formal exercise. Fun for everyone and a great way for a dog to learn. 

Now that Rundle has a bit of speed, he sometimes takes more steps than I would like before he drops. When this happens, I don't make a big deal about it, I just reset him and make it easier by going in a step or two towards him, then reward when he is successful. I also don't drop him after every wrap - sometimes I ask for a front, sometimes just a recall. I do not want him patterned to think that he wraps the pole then he drops. I always want him to be thinking and wondering what I will ask him to do next. As he gets more confident with this, I will start adding more distance until we can get to a full ring length with successful drops.  So, for as much work as we have done, we still have much more to do.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I have been working a bit with Rundle on hand signals. He was doing okay with this but then I tried to progress too fast (added to much distance before he was ready) and we started to get some creeping on the behaviours, which I do not want. So, I had to go back a couple steps and re-start the signals with Rundle right in front of me. What I want is a fast and clean response to the signals, which means a nice fold back down and a nice tuck sit, with no forward movement on either of them. Right now we are working on a down from a stand, a sit from a down, and a front from a sit.  I am happy with how the individual behaviours are going, so I will slowly start adding distance to each of them. Once I have some good distance, while still keeping my criteria of no creeping forward, then I will shorten the distance again and start to combine the signals.  It is so tempting to add more distance or start combining signals when your dog is doing well at the beginning stages, but when you go too fast and skip too many steps, it sucks to have to go back and start all over. So, the second I see any sloppiness, I need to go back a step to where Rundle was successful.

Patience seems to be the name of the game in dog training. We all want to get to the end result so quickly, but when we try to move ahead before our dog has a solid understanding of the basics of the behaviour, it often falls apart later in training or when we start trialling or adding pressure (proofing) to our training. So, it is often a battle between the thrill of seeing our dogs progress quickly and holding ourselves and our dogs to criteria that will hold up in the long run. The number one thing we need to remember is that dog training is not a race. In fact, a great deal of frustration often comes from trying to push ahead too fast.  So, if it takes me 6 months to work up to 20 feet of distance in our signals, so be it.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Training

Finally it is starting to look like spring around here. That means that we can actually do some training outside where there is more room and more distractions for Rundle to learn to work around. Rundle is a dog that is very aware of his environment and so even the backyard can present enough distraction to add challenges (in a good way) to our training. Learning to focus and work amidst distractions is an important part of the training process, and so even in the yard with familiar distractions, it will help Rundle learn to ignore the outside environment while he is training. Or at least that is the plan :)

Rundle's heeling is coming along nicely. I mentioned before that we were doing a heeling class through the Fenzi Academy and it really helped me set my goals for Rundle's heeling. The class was very intense and worked entirely on the precision behind heeling. This meant that for 6 weeks we worked on where heel position is. By the end of the 6 weeks, we were just starting to add movement to our heel position and Rundle and I had not completed all the skills set out at the beginning of the class.  I think that only one or two people actually got thorough all the skills, that is how tough the class was.  I think it was worth it though and Rundle seems to have a solid understanding of where heel position is and how to stay there. Now we just need to put in the hours and hours of practice that it will take to get that nice heel position all the time. Building duration for heeling will be a gradual process as I don't want to lose the precision. 

We are doing lots of other fun training too. I am starting to add the real scent articles into the discrimination game, so instead of just indicating the correct article, I am going to be asking Rundle to retrieve the correct article. He is retrieving all three types of articles well so now it's time to start combining that with the discrimination. We are also starting to work on go outs, doing more work with the broad jump, and adding more distance and movement to our downs. So, it's a good thing we can train outside as we will need more room to do all of these. 

Since I have no picture of Rundle working, I will post a video. This is Rundle working on "wait". The wait command is different from the stay in that I want Rundle to be ready for action. So with this cue he should be watching me and waiting intensely for the next cue, which is usually an action cue (come, utitlity signals, or release to agility equipment). I don't want any movement until I give another cue, as that gets you into all kinds of trouble. You will hear in the video some noise from next door where the neighbours were getting new siding put on their house. Rundle really wanted to go see what was going on (ie bark at the workers) but was a good boy and focused on the task we were working on. I need to work much harder in these situations by keeping the sessions short and interesting (using a tug toy instead of just food) to make sure he is successful around these kinds of distractions. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Birthday

Today Rundle turns 1 year old.

It's hard to believe that Rundle is growing up so quickly. He is maturing in some ways but still so very puppyish in other ways. He is a completely delightful dog and keeps us laughing every day. Rundle loves to cuddle and will snuggle right into your shoulder and sometimes I literally have to pry him off of me.  He loves to play and I have more than my share of bruises from Rundle trying to play tug with my sleeve.  Rundle loves everyone he meets and cannot contain his excitement when he gets to visit people he knows. He is such a fun puppy to live with and to train. I am so very greatful to his breeder for trusting me enough with this sweet boy to send him across the country.  We love this boy more than words can say. 

Happy Birthday, Rundle!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Where We Are Going and How We Are Getting There

It is no secret that one day I hope to have Rundle ready to compete at the Utility level in obedience.  It will still be a long time before we step into the obedience ring, even at the Novice level.  Some people have a specific goal in mind of when they want to take their dog in the ring, but I do not. Right now, I figure somewhere around when Rundle is 3 years old or so, but that will all depend on how he matures and how our training progresses. I do know that I will not take him into the ring until he is ready and that I want him to be fluent in all the exercises through the Utility level before we debut in Novice.

We have so much work to do but when I look at how much progress Rundle has made in the last 8.5 months since I brought him home, it really is amazing. He now has bits and pieces to make up all the exercises in all the obedience levels. Of course, we still need to learn much more and then put all those bits and pieces together and work on actual ring prep, but if we keep working steadily, we will get there.

For all the obedience levels, heeling is very important. In my mind it is also the most difficult exercise to teach and have your dog maintain enthusiasm for.  Right now, Rundle is learning about heeling - mainly, where exactly heel position is and how he can get there and stay there.

Novice level:
Rundle has the basics of fronts and finishes and stays (sit, down and stand) as well as the recall. I need to introduce the exam for the "stand for exam", but Rundle needs to be more solid on his stays before we add the excitement of someone trying to touch him. We have not combined any of these basics and I won't until each component is strong by itself.

Open Level:
Rundle is working hard on a formal retrieve.  So far we have split the components and have a hold, a carry, a pick up and the beginnings of a turn. Once each piece is solid, we will combine them into one full retrieve.
We have the beginnings of the drop on recall which are a fast response to the down cue and a down at a short distance.
Rundle has the basics of jumping.  We will introduce the broad jump this week.

Utility Level:
Rundle has the beginning of the retreiving he will need for the seek back. 
Rundle is loving the scent articles and we will continue to make them more challenging and then add in a retrieve once he is solid on that.
Signals - Rundle knows the position changes but we need distance and hand signals only. 
Moving Stand - we are making good progress on the moving stand. The exam by the judge will take a lot of prep - jumping on the judge is not scored well ;)
Directed Jumping - Rundle has the basics of a go out, both to a nose and foot target. We also have been working on the directed jumping and that is going well, although Rundle does have a side that is much stronger.

So, that is our progress up until now. Bits of this and bits of that. Someday all the bits should come together into the various exercises. Until then, we will keep working and having fun.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Moving Stand

I have started to teach Rundle a moving stand. His stands on command are fairly solid so now we are starting to add in some movement. Right now I am rewarding Rundle for still feet once I ask him to stand. Once he is stopping quickly with no foot movement I will start to add in some distance. Eventually, I should be able to cue the stand/halt and he will stay in place no matter where I move. 

The problem we are having right now with this exercise is that Rundle has been strongly rewarded for his fronts. So often, he tries to sit in front instead of halting. To stop this I am careful to stand at a slight angle in front of him.  I will also start tossing the cookie to him instead of handing it to him so that he doesn't think the position I want is always close in front of me. Once
We put everything together, he will be in heel position, not in front of me so it shouldn't be too much of an issue later on. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Scent Work

Rundle is still working on his scent articles and he is really loving this game. I have now started to make things harder for him by hiding the scented article and letting him find it. I also have added some distractions into his training. Here is a video from a couple days ago. Rundle is finding his article hidden among his toys. I started easy with just one scented article then added a couple more unscented articles to work around. His accuracy is nearly 100% right now so it is time to make it even more challenging :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Just Photos

Continuing with my 52 Weeks project.

Rundle loves his toys but would rather run around with them than bring them back to me.  That is one of the things we are working on :)

5/52  Got It!!

It has been bitterly cold here this week so Rundle has been stuck in the house quite a bit.  He mostly just runs out for a pee and to chase the birds away and then it is back in to the warm house.
6/52  Wishful Thinking

Friday, February 7, 2014

Agility Update

I have mostly been posting about Rundle's progress in obedience but we are still working on some agility stuff as well.  Rundle thinks agility is a lot of fun and he is doing well with all the skills we have been working on.  Rundle is still learning all the foundation skills and has seen very little in the way of actual agility equipment.

There is so much for him to learn before we get to the "big dog" stuff. Rundle is learning to take a straight line of jumps without me cueing each individual jump.  He is learning the 180 jump pattern and can now do this with a fair distance between the jumps. Rundle also knows how to take the backside of the jump on cue.  We are working on running across planks on the ground and Rundle thinks this is very exciting. He has pretty good coordination for his age and can stay on the plank even running at full speed (I'm sure this will give me a heart attack when we move to full sized equipment). We have worked a bit on rear crosses but I need to do more of this outside of class so that he really understands.

The only full sized piece of equipment Rundle has been learning is the teeter. We started doing teeter bang games (Rundle jumping on the end of the teeter to make it "bang").  Now Rundle has started running up the teeter to the end with the teeter propped up so it can't fall. Rundle gets fed standing on the end up in the air and then I lift him off. He has no problem with this at all. Last week he mis-stepped and fell/jumped off and turned and got right back on again. So he is not at all worried about the teeter so far. Soon we will start moving the teeter up and down a bit and have Rundle "surf" on the end of the board.  He still has a long way to go before he is doing the teeter all on his own, which is fine with me as I am in no rush with him. He will probably be in the foundation class long after the puppies who started the same time as him move on to the more advanced classes. Rundle, being a large breed puppy, will not be able to physically (or mentally) move to more challenging training or full equipment until his growth plates are all closed, which will not be for quite a while still. So, there is no need to rush anything - we have lots of time to work on all the basic agility skills we will need.