keskiviikko 22. joulukuuta 2010

December puppy training

I have spent again many fun training sessions with my big puppy. Here are some notes.

2-on-2-off: Kumma offers 2o2o very well on a dogwalk (usually only a downside ramp supported by a table), and understands a release cue. To have a forward facing 2o2o, my position is still in front of him. Next I plan to start rewarding him by throwing a treat/toy, and once this is working, I can start to change my position, then add movement, lateral distance, distractions... Yesterday I introduced a full size dogwalk to Kumma for the first time. Not a slightest sign of hesitation, and a nice 2o2o at the end. What a great boy!

Teeter: Kumma has seen only a puppy teeter so far, its height is only 15cm. He was rather confident on it last time, and offered 2o2o without any cue. We could start soon working on a real teeter, with supporting tables. Perhaps some noise training as well.

Jumping: basic grid yesterday. Kumma had fun, but didn't quite match his steps with the jump bumps... He started nicely, but couldn't manage the last part of the grid. I want to see real body control before adding any height (poles), let's see when that happens. We'll go to Vappu's jumping seminar again in January and February, good to have more advice and experience.

Spin: a new trick is spinning is both directions. Only a couple of sessions behind, and I'm still using my hand as a cue/lure.

Weaving: only teaching to weave between my legs at the moment. I plan to use 2x2 method for Kumma, I used a very similar way to training with both Hoppu and Neeo. I'd like to start weave pole training on the backyard, so I need to wait a couple of months as there is 50cm of snow in the garden. Perhaps in April we could start, when Kumma is 12 months old.

Recall: more distraction training at home with treats on the floor. A fantastic puppy, finding his way carefully through the treats to me. Could add some toys next time. We are also practising recall outside during our daily walks. I can leave Kumma sitting, and run away from him, and then recall.

Meeting other dogs: Kumma has still been very social to all dogs he has met. He is eager to meet other dogs, but he is also able to focus on me when I ask for it, and pass other dogs easily. It is more challenging if I have all three hurricanes with me, but even then Kumma is the one behaving nicely.

It is time to start thinking and training handling skills. We have done some foundation training supporting handling, but it feels a bit difficult to start. Perhaps I'll review some DVDs during Xmas vacation.

Temperature is going up and down, mainly down. Hoppu and Neeo are mainly staying inside, it is just too cold for them to have a real walk. There was a little accident, and Hoppu's eye was bleeding. I was really worried, but fortunately it was only a scratch on the eye lid. I've done some clicker training with the IGs as well, and they just love it! Tomorrow I'll take all three to agility training, some fun and fast drills for veterans.

Last weekend Kumma visited Nuuksio with his aunties Fun and Grim. It was beautiful and snowy, and Kumma enjoyed  BC company. He got big chunks of snow between his toes, but wasn't too bothered about them.

sunnuntai 19. joulukuuta 2010

Jumping: set point

Jumpint training with Kumma this week: a set point exercise with a wider setup.

torstai 16. joulukuuta 2010


Warm congratulations to Hoppu's mum Sade, best IG veteran at Helsinki Winner show, at the age of 14!

lauantai 11. joulukuuta 2010

2-on-2-off training

Contact training with Kumma some weeks ago.

perjantai 10. joulukuuta 2010

Kumma 8 months

These pics were taken last week.

Another kind of agility

I spent one and a half weeks without my hurricanes due to travelling, it was tough. All three were taken care by a good kennel. For Kumma it was the first time, I'm sure it was stressing for him. Hoppu and Neeo recovered fast, they have plenty of experience. It feels good to be at home again, and today I made a nice long walk with Kumma (too cold for IGs).

Our walk raised some thoughts about walking on leash, and by coincidence there was a related question in Viiru's blog today (Kumma's brother). In the ideal world I would stop each and every time my dog is tightening the leash, and moving forward only with a loose leash. In the real world my puppy is full of energy after a day inside, it's freezing cold outside, and I might have two other dogs with me. In the ideal world I wouldn't take my dog walking with me on leash until he is skilled enough. In the real world I need to offer him exercise and experiences. Walking nicely on leash is mainly about accepting. How much pressure and pulling do I accept? I have not been able to be as consistent as I would like to. Kumma is reacting pretty well to my stopping by loosening the leash. Whenever I'm walking only with him, I'm able to control him better and react faster. Today I realized that in addition to reacting by stopping (negative punishment) I should reward good behaviour more often. Not only walking on my side with eye contact, but walking anywhere around me with loose leash. If only I could handle treats fast enough without taking my gloves off...

During our family vacation to Tenerife we went to see another kind of agility to Loro Parque. I was impressed and warmly recommend this park. Our children enjoyed it too :)

sunnuntai 28. marraskuuta 2010

Winter fun

A real winter is here, plenty of snow and cold. Temperature being below -5C means IGs stay inside. By throwing cookies I can get them outside for 30sec to do what is needed. Feels strange to have a dog who loves snow and doesn't mind cold. I get my daily exercise with Kumma :)

Lots of training done with Kumma, at home and at Purina and Sporttikoirahalli. Short update:

2-on-2-off: cue has been added. I started using a toy target in front to have a better position (not crooked). I'm staying in front as well in this phase to have Kumma watching ahead. Try to change my position gradually. After some trying Kumma got the new game and made two very nice 2o2os. Good speed, full stop without hesitation, and fast release to the target. I'm reinforcing the position with cookies before releasing.

Tunnel: rear cross training. Some hesitation in the beginning, but after that fluent performance. My toy throwing and timing could have been better.

Out (going around): I've teached Kumma to go around a chair, "out" is the cue. Using this I started teaching Kumma to go around wings. Target is to teach him to go both from front to back, and back to front (having another cue). With a chair I've used distance ping ponging up to 5 meters. With wings 1-2m during first training sessions.

Backing up: this is on cue and starting to use it in other locations.

Tire: nice performance with a low tire, last time I did it with a toy target. Kumma is consistently offering tire itself, even if we have used a tire with a frame.

Recall: distraction training at home by adding a bowl with cookies between me and Kumma. Excellent work from my big puppy! He is thinking and going carefully around the bowl to show how hard he is avoiding it. Such a fun to see it :)

Down: it is much better now, I've done lots of basic reinforcement, with toys and cookies. Also some distraction training with a toy, good work at home.

Crate games: daily reinforcement at home. Door bell training is continuing, there has been some break in training, my fault. I'm now taking a crate to agility trainings as well to play the games in other locations. Crate games have been a good support for agility training. I believe all staying and releasing type of behaviours benefit from crate games. Controlled positions like sit and down, table, 2o2o... And having played crate games with distractions, I have also been able to add distractions to other stay-release behaviours pretty fast. Another group of behaviours benefiting from crate games are distance related behaviours. Having done distance ping ponging with a crate enabled doing the same with a tunnel, with going around a chair/wing, and so on. Too bad I didn't know all this 11 years ago with the IGs!

Today we had a nice training day organized by Mia, Kumma's breeder. Vappu Alatalo was instructing, both motivation and jumping. I got some good advice for playing with Kumma, to get him tugging more intensively by not accepting "weak" tugging, and to get him more excited and focused on me when other dogs are around. Yes, Kumma has realized value of friends and smells... It is good to have someone checking you every now and then, it is too easy to continue same old way especially if there are not specific problems. But you can always improve :) It was great to see Kumma's siblings and other relatives, and admire how the experienced ones jumped difficult sequences. Kumma did both basic and expanding grids, both were fluent. At the end he was really tired, and we skipped a bending exercise.

sunnuntai 21. marraskuuta 2010

Little black creature growing

Found these puppy pics of Neeo :)

1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

8 months

14 months

Aim high

I have motivation. I will aim high. List of needed skills:

Sound detection working - check
Scent discrimination working - check
Reaction time - check
Running skills - check
Jumping skills - check
Flying skills - need to work on this

Once I master all of these skills, I will reach my goal, I will go high, I will get them.

...Kumma has found squirrels...

perjantai 12. marraskuuta 2010

Little monsters

I found one fun summer picture, it was taken by my friend.

Kumma 3 months and Neeo 10 years

keskiviikko 10. marraskuuta 2010


Yesterday it was snowing, today it has been melting away. I went to a puppy class yesterday with Kumma. He was really keen to see his playmates, and his focus was not the best. On a puppy teeter he was hesitating at first, but then balanced quite nicely on it. We stayed only for 30min as I wasn't feeling too well. Today I've been in bed for the whole day, hope tomorrow is a better day.

On Sunday I went to an agility seminar. It was given by Janita Leinonen, and the topic was reading an agility course. I was surprised to notice how much new stuff there was for me. Like 90% of refusals happen after a tunnel or a chute. And all those handling techniques, I'm lost with those. Well, I have time to learn and decide which ones I want to use. One interesting point was that you shouldn't perform a back cross on a curved tunnel, so that you go to the back side of the tunnel. The reason is that a dog is automaticly turning to wrong direction when coming out and losing time. Why isn't it possible to teach a dog to turn to other direction, having back cross as a cue? I might try to find out with Kumma :)

Hoppu and Neeo do not appreciate snow and cold weather. I should buy them tickets to somewhere warm. They might like Florida, would there be full service retirement homes for doggies?

torstai 4. marraskuuta 2010

Ears and eyes

Hoppu in 2000

It is amusing how important ears are in the dog world. And this has nothing to do with hearing, the actual meaning of the ears. IG ears are supposed to be folded. Hoppu has versatile ears. In the show ring he carries them nicely folded and judges are pleased. But when there is something exciting, a toy, food, sounds, up they go, huge erect ears on top of a small elegant head. Neeo on the other hand has beautiful folded ears. But they are rather soft, and combined with Neeo's character, speed and overall hustle, his ears often end up being upside down. After one pair of too erect ears and one pair of too soft ones, Kumma places himself in the middle. He has cute floppy ears, and one of them is part time erect. Well, never mind about ear standards, all of my hurricanes are perfect just as they are.

Neeo the slim youngster in 2000

Kumma has an eye infection, and I'm trying to target eye drops into his eyes three times a day. Easier said than done. According to the vet this type of infection is a common puppy problem, first time for us though. 16.7kg at vet clinic, and 53cm measured at home.

Crate games with a doorbell is progressing very well. Today Kumma stayed in his crate when the doorbell rang and kids were playing noisily just next to him.

At puppy class we made jumping exercises, basic and acceleration grids. Lots of fun! I have something on video, but need to tackle technical problems before being able to release.

Would be nice to know who are our visitors in this blog, please leave a comment :)

lauantai 30. lokakuuta 2010

Kumma 7 months

My puppy is 7 months, time is flying! He weights 16.5kg, need to check his height. Here is this week's training update.

2-on-2-off: we have practiced in three locations, at home with stairs, and at Purina and Sporttikoirahalli with a dogwalk ramp on the table. Kumma is offering 2o2o position really well, my position is still close to him or in front. I can move around, spin, jump, and Kumma is holding the position. Next I plan to change my position gradually, move up and down, as well as increase lateral distance. No cue yet, I haven't decided when I will introduce it.

Down: this basic behaviour has not been so successful this week, distractions are affecting performance. Will take a step back and reinforce in familiar environment with no distractions.

Recall: we are playing daily the games that are building value on recall. Kumma's recall is pretty strong, and works with many everyday distractions like people and other dogs. Does not work with major ones like squirrels and super interesting smells.

Cars: Kumma wants to chase cars... Especially if they are passing by very close. If I ask him to focus on me, he does that and ignores a car. If I let him walk on leash without focus on me, he may or may not jump towards cars.

Crate games: at home we have practised with a door bell as a distraction (and IGs barking). More sessions needed. Today I took the crate to Sporttikoirahalli, and did some basic training and Changed My Mind there. That was fun!

Jumping: set point exercise. I took this on video, and for my unexperienced eyes Kumma's jumping looked relaxed and good. A toy target is an excellent reward for him.

Tire: adding a cue.

Teeter: made some balance training with a puppy teeter, a board with a piece of plastic pipe on bottom. First time for Kumma, and he got surprised by a moving board. I let him stand in the middle, and rewarded any small steps to either direction. Very good and brave puppy! We've done different kinds of balance training at home, so he had some foundation.

Back up: first sessions yesterday. I love starting to train new behaviours, it is so much fun to observe a dog to figure out what is wanted from him. I reinforced any movement backwards, and very soon Kumma offered steps backwards. Good to continue from this. With this behaviour I noticed again how much easier it is to shape a BC compared to IGs. BC is moving slowly, one leg at a time, easy to catch and reward small movements. IGs are so much faster, thanks Hoppu and Neeo for teaching me to react fast :)

maanantai 25. lokakuuta 2010

Monday stories

Heard some strange noises last night, Kumma was vomiting. Some cleaning, and back to sleep. Shouldn't have given him anything to eat in the morning, easy to say now. He vomited some more. He has been drinking and playing, so I hope that he will be better tomorrow.

Kumma felt well enough to run around and around in the woods, and went to get some awful smelling thing on him. I had to wash him, trying to hold my breath .

Hoppu and Neeo had a vet check today, rabies and kennel couch vaccinations. Rabies is valid for three years, feels strange to think that this might have been their last one. Both should have their teeth cleaned soon. For Neeo the vet recommended an eye check. Hoppu weighted 7.4kg, Neeo 7.0kg.

Days are getting shorter, evenings are dark. Here is some sunshine, the little hurricanes 10 years ago :)

keskiviikko 20. lokakuuta 2010

Puppy agility and veteran fight

There were 6 puppies in the class yesterday. I started by playing with Kumma, asking for fast sits and downs in between. He focused nicely, but showed also interest in other puppies moving around us.

Tunnel: a U-shaped tunnel, starting from a sit as well as holding a collar and directly from play. All worked well.

Chute: supporting by lifting a fabric, just to make sure there is no hesitation and speed decrease. Next time I think it is not needed anymore. Could try food target with this one.

Tire: reinforcing going through, no cue. This was a puppy tire without a frame. Fast and 100% success rate. Next time could add the cue.

2-on-2-off: a dogwalk's ramp was placed on a low table. After some trying Kumma took 2o2o position and I reinforced and released. Repeated two times. I was very pleased to see that he offered the 2o2o position with this new equipment and with all distractions.

After the class Kumma played with the other puppies outside. Love to see him interacting with others, so far he has been very social with both small and big ones.

The IG veterans caused some headache today. Kumma teased Neeo in the garden. They run around and around, Neeo with his tail up and trying to show Kumma his place. Then Neeo came inside and did not allow Kumma to come further. Hoppu was close, and Neeo turned his attention to him. Hoppu didn't like that and there we had veterans fighting. I wanted to get Kumma in his crate and then went to separate the IGs. There was some bleeding, and I thought Neeo's eye was hurt. Once I got closer look, the eye looked ok, even if there was some blood under it. Didn't find anything, so hope it was just a small scratch. Hoppu and Neeo have done this a couple of times, only once we needed to visit the vet... Neutering them decreased tension, but as Neeo is a macho and Hoppu is not able to relax and leave it, there is always a possibility.

To relax myself, I took Kumma and Neeo, and we had a nice evening walk in rainy weather. Will separate the small hurricanes for the night (they share a big crate), just to be on the safe side. Tomorrow they will be again best of friends.

torstai 14. lokakuuta 2010

Training update

Two agility training sessions with Kumma this week, one was a puppy class and one on our own.
  • Tire: almost on the ground, just reinforcing going through, back and forth. Today we used for a first time a standard tire with a frame, and Kumma offered going between the frame and the tire. I just ignored and reinforced correct choice.
  • Table: first introduction. Reinforced jumping on the table and staying there, then releasing. Went really well. Need to think what would be the position on the table.
  • Closed tunnel: first introduction. Lifted the fabric a couple of times, then Kumma went through without any help. Some hesitation, fabric was rather heavy. Today 2nd intro with lighter fabric. Wow, he was great! No hesitation, full speed to the toy target.
  • Tunnels: different colours, shapes and distances.
  • Jumping: grid work. This was too much in the class, need to do it without distractions first. I have finally plastic pipes at home, only sawing needed...
  • 2-on-2-off: position training at home, with stairs and mini A-frame. No cue yet, only reinforcing the position.
  • Games, games, games!
Hoppu and Neeo are sensing the winter is coming. They are not eager to go outside. They try to hide under blankets, pretending not to notice leashes in my hand, Hoppu even ignoring cookies. Once I have pulled them outside (coats on for sure), and their muscles start to warm up, they survive. In fact they enjoy, though not admitting it to me :)

tiistai 5. lokakuuta 2010

Autumn days

Last week I took Kumma to his first puppy agility class. Five puppies were there, Kumma was the oldest and the biggest. I had no idea how he would focus having other puppies around. For sure he was extremely interested in them, but as soon as I asked his focus, he gave it 100%. I played several games with him, and trained basic behaviours like sit and down. We did some tunnel work, and also I introduced him to a puppy tire. This is an adjustable tire without a big frame around it. I've used a bike tire at home, holding it myself, and rewarding going through. It took Kumma only a couple of seconds to offer going through the puppy frame. Next time I can add a cue. At the end of the class puppies had a nice play session together. I was surprised to see how bossy Kumma was, suppose he used the opportunity being the oldest.

Some days ago I decided to weight Kumma. Trying to do it, I realized that he was too heavy and big to be taken in my lap. I went to get some cookies, and only after a couple of tries he was standing still on the scale. That was a piece of cake having used all kinds of balance boards and boxes in training.

Kumma 6 months: 16kg and 51cm.

I'm using crate games for a new purpose now. Kumma's crate is pretty close to the front door. I've given up retraining the oldies, so I put my energy to training Kumma an acceptable doorbell behaviour. I've used both food and toys as distractions, but now I'm adding opening and closing front door as well as doorbell to the list. I'm thinking that finally I'd like the sound of the doorbell to be a cue for Kumma to go to his crate, and stay there (with the door open) until released. This would make life so much easier!

We have enjoyed sunny autumn days by walking in the woods almost daily.

sunnuntai 26. syyskuuta 2010

Kumma 6 months

Kumma is 6 months today! Yesterday he run around the garden with Neeo. Nepsu hurt his front leg and was limping today. Hoppu was not too eager to go for a walk, so I decided to take Kumma alone. As usual, we started our route in the woods. It was so lovely to see how Kumma enjoyed running here and there, everywhere. Pure joy, puppy power. He is extremely interested in birds, wondering why he can't climb a tree. Whenever there is a good moment, I try to hide somewhere and let Kumma to find me. It's lots of fun! There has been more people in the woods than usually, looking for mushrooms. I've been pleased to see how well Kumma has reacted on recalls.

Nice leash walking is difficult to train when having all three doggies with me. Kumma is doing ok, but could do better as there is often a light pull. Today was a good opportunity to focus on this, and not to allow any pulling. I also reinforced heeling on left and right, as well as focus whenever there were distractions (cars, bicycles, other dogs and people).

Contact training: I've started to do stair work with Kumma. He is holding 2on2off position really well, and now also starting to offer this position. I need to think when to add a cue, and what it will be. I've used "pinta" with Hoppu and Neeo, but taking into account their not so consistent contact performance, I think I'll choose something else. Just to have a new positive beginning :)

Kumma's tugging has improved a lot lately. There was a weaker period, and I think it was due to teething, there must have been some pain or unconfortable feeling. When his tugging became stronger, he hit my hands a couple of times. This is something I really hate, so I reacted very strongly even for the smallest hits, and within a couple of days he started thinking and got it.

Hoppu is thinking he doesn't need to go outside anymore if it's below 20 degrees. He is ready to spend the wintertime under the blankets, concentrating on sleeping, food and cuddles. Let's see if he will be an old grumpy grandpa ;)

Agility and balance training can be done differently:

tiistai 21. syyskuuta 2010

Autumn rain

It has been raining for the whole day. Real autumn feeling, walking the dogs in the darkening evening. Light rain. Streets were almost for us only, others stayed inside. Hoppu and Neeo had their coats on, and looked relatively happy and warm. Kumma was 100% happy, trying to go to all directions at the same time. A leash limited his path, and we had several silent moments of negotiation about what kind of speed was allowed.

At home a nice surprise was waiting for the doggies. We had lamb for dinner and guess who were the lucky ones getting meaty bones and other leftovers? Food is rarely wasted in our household, suppose it's the same for most families with dogs.

A week ago we had the 3rd and last day of Vappu's jumping seminar. Topic of the day was bending. I was really pleased to see how well Kumma focused on playing and jumping. It is such a joy to work (= have fun) with him! Bending exercises for advanced dogs were really challenging, and seeing the dogs thinking and trying was great. The more I learn about Susan Salo's jumping method, the more I like it and believe in it. It just makes sense. If only I could push myself to buy pipes and saw them into jump bumps. The thing is that I should emply all kinds of stuff from my car to fit it the pipes. Maybe tomorrow...

"Method" seems to be an important word in agility nowadays. Which handling method are you using? What kind of training method do you use for weave poles, contacts, this and that? I like methods. I like good consistent methods that help me to improve my handling, and allow me to choose a training method that I think best suits myself and my dog. But it's always good to think and check and double check that offered methods are really for you and for your dog. I remember when I got the first handling DVD of Greg Derrett, it felt like many loose ends tied together and I finally understood something what good consistent handling is about. On the other hand I've heard all kinds of advice that would have been a disaster with my IGs. IGs just wanna have fun :) Even if BCs have more built in motivation to work with their humans, I want to evaluate carefully any offered advice and method.

Our Say Yes Recallers e-course is finished. I have learned a lot, and we have plenty of new fun games in our toolbox, embedded in our training plan. We are still mainly training at home, but puppy agility classes will start soon offering good selection of distractions. I'm also planning to train once a week on my own, being able to have veteran agility fun with Hoppu and Neeo, and to start obstacle training with Kumma.

lauantai 18. syyskuuta 2010

Big puppy

My little puppy has disappeared, Kumma is a big puppy now. Looks like a dog, not a teddy bear anymore. 15kg of energy and action. These pics were take a couple of weeks ago.

torstai 9. syyskuuta 2010

Contact action

My next dog will have brilliant perfect 100% reliable contacts. Familiar thinking? With Hoppu and Neeo I used a target with a paw touch, kind of running contact with a target. It worked, sometimes, even pretty often. But not always. Micromanaging contact performance at trials is not motivating, not for a dog, not for a handler. But I do have to praise Neeo's teeter performance, it is fast and reliable. Well, as fast as it can be for a lightweight dog. Thinking - planning - action! I started contact training with Kumma today. My plan is to train 2-on-2-off starting with a simple flat board, without any target.

Very nice walk in the woods today, sunny and warm September day. Kumma was running and exploring, finding his own ways. Hoppu and Neeo usually stay on a path, that's better for their delicate paws. But if there are any real or imaginary signs of a bunny nearby, they become fearless (and deaf). Being sighthounds, they come back when they can't see the target anymore. This combination of delicate elegance and bursting power in a small package is something I particularly love in IGs.

maanantai 30. elokuuta 2010

Jumping seminar

I spent the weekend at a jumping seminar with Kumma. Vappu Alatalo was teaching, based on Susan Salo's method. Kumma was the youngest participant, all the other dogs were 12 months or older. Contents of these two days were basic jumping exercises: set point, grid work, and estimating distance. There will be a third day in September, focusing on bending. Even if I heard of this method many years ago, it took some time to really study what it is about. With easy jumping IGs I thought this is not for us. I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking that way... Only now I can understand how much benefit there would have been for the IGs as well. Neeo could have gained speed, Hoppu tighter turns. I like Salo's method because it is consistent and clear, and fun. It can be taken dead seriously, but the point is to let the dog go and have fun, and he learns and improves jumping skills simultaneously. He figures out how to jump so that it feels good.

I was excited to see how Kumma would take the long weekend, lots of people and other dogs. Wow, was he great! He showed fantastic focus for his age. We had practised going to a toy target at home and it helped a lot. I'm proud of my puppy :) Now I should go to Bauhaus and buy some pipes to build (or cut) speed bumps. I'm going to introduce them to Hoppu and Neeo as well, safe fun for the veterans.

We recommend Vappu's seminars!

perjantai 27. elokuuta 2010

Kumma 5 months

My little puppy is a big boy, 5 months, 13kg and ~48cm.Cute and sweet as always. Teeth are changing, many of our games have been bloody :) Kumma got a new huge crate where he has enough room for his long legs.

sunnuntai 22. elokuuta 2010

Neeo 11 years

Happy birthday Neeo, 11 years today!

He is enjoying life every day. It's all or nothing, black or white, love or hate for him. He still behaves like if he was born a year ago. He forgot to grow up. I hope he never will, I'm sure he never will :)

These pics were taken today.