Puppy Updates



Many people mailed me and asked to regularly update on what we're working on with Bi. It's a hard one as, as always, I don't really have a plan - and, I'm always working on different things at the same time, I guess I have never trained a behaviour from start to finish without starting with some other things in between - so that all the time, I have many things that were started, but are not finished just yet - especially with a puppy! But well, I'll try to write every week or two what was our major focus. So...


(almost) 5 months


A quick update after a sunny day in the snowy mountains and before leaving back to the sea-side. Yeah, beauties of a small country: playing in the snow one day and swimming in the sea the next one:)



As I have mentioned before, we're staying at the little house at the sea-side now as my boyfriend works there till the end of the year and my puppy schools are all over. I never thought it's such an advantage, but wow - what a luxury it is, living in a house! You can just take one dog and do tricks without being limited with space and without having to drive somewhere. And yes, what a luxury to not go to a normal job, I'm outside as long as there is enough day light, either hiking with the dogs, walking by the beach or playing and training with them. I felt somewhat guilty for Lo, La and Bu after I got Bi as I was spending so much time playing with her, but now they all get plenty to do, I can see them all really tired by the end of the day as after trips and walks, I always work&play with each, separately, for at least two times a day (more times, but for less time, with Bi). They're so happy and so exhausted. Hey, maybe 4 is not my maximum number of dogs afterall, I can still exhaust them all! All I wish for is some more new ideas for the tricks for the "old" ones (well, not old, just older-as-Bi). 

With Bi, we're still mostly putting names to the behaviours she knows already and oh, we even started training "stay", so you can guess I really do have lots of time for the dogs to go into training that! We'll be here till the end of the year, so our agility training will be pretty much limited to that plank till January.

We didn't do much work on real equipment yet anyway, so I don't have much to show for all those, asking for agility updates all the time. But of course, we did enough cik&caps around the trees that Bi understands it really well and can be sent around any object, jump wings included. Of course, she still needs my body language to know the direction, but other than that, she understands it really well. So running mini cik&cap courses is actually very easy with her - despite I didn't do many at all yet. However, I took an opportunity of being home this weekend and taped our training yesterday - you can see here. To show the duration of our trainings, I included everything I did on that training in the video. I actually usually do just one mini course with some little parts of it at the end. This time, I did two, for you to see two examples of cik&cap-only course, as many people were asking how a course like that looks like.

And as I had an access to real see-saw too for a change, I also taped our first "training" on a see-saw. What she knew before that training is pushing the board down with front feet and (separately from that) taking 2on2off position. And of course, interacting with any strange object.

At the end, you can again see some contacts with some more angle. We'll stay on that height for some time now and start to work on different handler positions as she is finally focusing ahead enough. Now, I don't need to throw a ball ahead of her anymore to get good focus&speed, so I'll start running with her and only throw when she is on a contact. Some people asked what I did when I already threw a ball and then the contact was not good - well, I just didn't click, only took a ball and did it again. Of course, she was rewarded by chasing a ball already, but it's no big deal, as long as you reward significantly more (by playing after throwing a ball) when the contact is actually good. Bi for sure knew the difference as she was much more in a hurry to come back if I clicked as when I didn't.


Bi, meeting sister Lumi (photo by Cintia)


more photos and a puppy agility video



4,5 months



Today's update will be a boring one for all that are not interested in running contacts, so you can just stop reading here, but I owe this one to all those who went through the process themselves, I guess they will be happy to see that it's not just them, meeting strange problems on the way:). I guess they just must appear here and there to make the good tries make you smile with even more joy.

I probably wouldn't start with plank work that soon if I didn't have an ideal opportunity right now. I'm usually very limited with space, living in an appartement, but we're currently living in a little house out of town and have some grass available, so I just couldn't resist - especially after my puppy student Maja was so nice to get us a fancy new plank that is significantly longer from the one I can use in the apartment. Big thanks to Maja&Phoebe! By the way, if you ever get sick of me, not making enough puppy tricks videos, you can check Maja's channel, she has plenty of them!

I actually first started it on our agility field as we have a really thin A-frame that can be put completely on the ground, so it sounded as a good start as the a-frame becomes one long, thin and wide plank that way. The only problem was that I had to do it by myself and as Bi doesn't stay so that I could do recalls and didn't show much speed when running to a stationary object like a toy on the floor or a bowl with food. So I decided to just send her cik/cap around an object to get better speed to start with and then throw a toy as soon as she gets on a plank (A-frame), I didn't expect any jumping anyway. - But she proved me wrong again, she sure is full of surprises!

Already on her second session, she started to prolong her last stride! She was first still landing on the end of the plank, but of course, not for long anymore, my little puppy was soon missing the contact all together! I'm not really sure why that happened as the A-frame I was using was really comfortably wide, very thin and completely flat... So I guess it must have been me who produced that, probably I was sometimes throwing late and a toy, flying above her head, made her prolong her stride... And of course, stupid me, I even clicked it several times as I was not expecting it at Even then, when I knew I have to be careful, I just couldn't get my clicks right: they were either too many, or missing or too late, a complete chaos, I can understand now why some people chose to mark the contacts with the voice instead. I always knew at the moment I was clicking that I shouldn't have, but well, too late! I had no idea it can happen even after training two dogs by myself, helping with training many other dogs too and seeing hundreds of videos... Obviously, it can!

Everything looked really bad on that A-frame, so I tried if things are any better on a plank - but of course, they weren't... I tried with recalls and sends to a toy afterall as it couldn't be any worse anyway - but it also wasn't any better... I even tried to put a little bit of an angle to the plank, just to see if it helps her understand better what I want - but it didn't... We had several really horrible sessions, like 90% of prolonging the stride, I was shocked...


But in the process of trying all those things and thinking what went wrong, I finally learned to anticipate her striding better and finally got good at clicking. That was obviously all she needed as it went from 90% of jumping to 90% of running in just few sessions, I just couldn't believe my eyes! It looks really good now, even when I put a plank higher it doesn't make her jump more. Let's hope it stays that way! Will keep you updated on our progress - or regress...



more pictures - and a new video



4 months



As we have another ugly, rainy day, here is another update on Bi. She is still in her fear phase. Well, in fact, she is completely normal in situations I exposed her most to: noise&crowd of agility competitions don't bother her at all and she is o.k. in busy city center too, but I did forget about some other elements like traffic in my initial socialization and she completely changes in situations like that. She also gets really scared of everything new that appears in the apartment and just can't get over it. So I think that at this point, exposing her to new things would be rather counterproductive and we're just trying to avoid situations like that and still hope this is just a phase...

When not afraid of something, she is still my wild pup with no manners:). I'm really terrible when it comes to teaching manners, as I find puppies just way too cute. My only well mannered dog is Bu, but that's just the way she is. She doesn't steal food, she doesn't throw stinky toys in your face when least expected, she doesn't tug on your sleeves and she is not bouncing from the walls. Bi does it all, what a nice change!:)



She is still very quick at learning new things, but I guess it's time to put some names to behaviours we already mastered first as things are getting somewhat chaotic. So, for everybody asking if I put names to all the behaviours I teach: I don't, I never name things where an object presented is a cue itself, like a skate is a cue to push, an open drawer is a cue to be closed, a closed drawer is a cue to be opened... But of course, most tricks are on verbal cue. At this point, she understands "down", "sit", "back", "crawl back", "nose", "weave" (figure 8 backwards) and probably some more without any help and we're working on knowing names for all four legs and a "a fly" trick (a really funny snap in the air that was again mostly her idea - my idea was originally just for her to open her mouth, but then immediately went with the snap and I am now shaping as much teeth as possible to get more mean expression:). With most tricks she knows, like left&right, cik&cap, right/left legs up she still needs some more help than just a verbal cue to know what I mean. But eventually, we'll put all those on verbal only too, of course, it's just not my preferred part of the process, so I mostly just let it be and then she gets to understand the names by herself somewhere on the way.

As I said, we don't have so many new tricks to show this time, but we'll be doing another video as soon as the weather gets better, just for you to see how much longer legs we're having now:). - And how very well we know where they are and what they're doing.

And, oh, as you can see bellow, Bi has got some serious competition in ear size. It's her sister Lumi (photo by Cintia Darnai). What cool ears, huh? Just as Bi, she has black eye brows on left side and white on right side and also her favourite hobby is herding the other BC.


more pictures



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