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)
and a puppy agility video
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
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...
a new video
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
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
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