perjantai 30. joulukuuta 2011

Year end

Mild winter weather is appreciated by Hoppu and Neeo. Kumma doesn't really care, he is a real weather proof pal, always ready to go. Today we had a nice long walk, and a short training session with Kumma after that. Some tight turns and flips with two jumps in the garden, in one small not so muddy and wet spot. Another training session in the evening, tricks and games inside.

Highlight of the week for Kumma was two days ago when after some agility training he got a possibility to run free with all his brothers and other relatives. He was so happy! In training we did a start of a course set up by Mia, 8 obstacles total. Third one was a tire, after two jumps. There was a slight turn after the jumps, and it took some repetitions before we managed to get it working. Kumma is not yet fully confident with the tire, and it was good to see how he still managed it with a slightly harder entry angle. After the tire a closed tunnel, no problem there, Kumma loves it. But life after the closed tunnel is something we haven't really practised. There was a tight turn after, I was late and not focused, Kumma shot out of the tunnel straight looking for a toy. Something to add to our training list. I was pleased with a dogwalk, good up and down contacts. A double jump next, there I made a mistake of releasing Kumma before checking that he is focused on a jump, not on me. 2nd bar was dropped.

There has been nice progress with many agility details during past weeks, and I'm thinking of entering Kumma in his first trial at the end of January. That would be a jumping class, as we need more time with contacts. We are far from ready, if ready means perfect, but there are several reasons why I don't want to delay starting trialing too much. One is that I've had a long break, and I want to be there again :) But also I want to see how Kumma will behave in a trial atmosphere and environment, and start preparing him to trialing conditions rather sooner than later. We are ready enough!

tiistai 22. marraskuuta 2011

Kummajainen fyssarilla

Kumma kävi eilen fyssarilla, tässä yhteenveto. Liikkuu hyvin, lievä selän notko ajoittain ravissa, taipuu hyvin. Seistessä symmetrinen, rangan jousto riittävä, syvät lihakset vaikuttavat kehittyneen etuosassa, mutta takaosan ja vartalon syvät lihakset saavat aktivoitua vielä tehokkaammin. Lihaskireyksiä ei tänään selkeästi havaittavissa, nivelten liikkuvuudet normaalit.

Jumppaohjeet säilyvät ennallaan, paitsi osa niistä tehdään epätasaisella alustalla. Mukava oli kuulla, että kaveri on kunnossa!

Kennelliiton viralliset terveystulokset tulivat myös jokin aika sitten: lonkat B/B, kyynärät 0/0.

torstai 17. marraskuuta 2011

Step by step

It is starting to be more and more in my thoughs: trialing! Kumma being now over 18 months, and able to participate in agility trials, is getting my excitement increasing. I like and miss a positive stress of trialing. I have no idea how we will do with Kumma in terms of results, but I'm sure we will have fun.

But to be able to start trialing, some basic obstacle skills need to be completed.

Seesaw: Kumma can perform a seesaw with a lowered obstacle, need to increase height little by little, and make sure confidence is there all the time. Good 2-on-2-off so far.

Tire: no problem as a single obstacle, but needs more training as parts of the course (distances before and after, entry angles).

All contact obstacles: 2-on-2-off is pretty good, but lately I have focused on upside performance. This is still under work, but today's training session showed that there is some understanding and we are on the right track. I'm currently adding more handler movement as a distraction. My plan is to transfer solid performance with distractions, when get rid of the plastic box little by little, and transfer the behaviour onto a complete dogwalk and A-frame only after that. I don't want to mix and confuse Kumma's 2-on-2-off performance if he is making a mistake with the upside contact.

Jumps: I've been pleased with Kumma's jumping. He is now jumping 50 to 55cm, and there is typically zero or one knocked bar in one training session. Need to increase height to 55 to 65cm, and start training tight turns with full height.

This is the minimum, and will be our focus during coming months so that we could enter first trials early spring. Perhaps jumping courses even earlier.

From my side, I need to switch my thinking and consequently my handling and timing from one obstacle at time mode into a fluent flow mode.

Neeo is now fully recovered from his operation, doing kamikaze jumps again from the sofa. Hoppu is also fine, having sometimes too much speed considering that he doesn't see. This is making our walks a bit complicated as I need to protect him from attacking trees and poles. I have enjoyed warm autumn, nice long walks and training sessions in the garden. There is no hurry to get snow, I don't miss it at all, neither the IGs. Kumma will love it.

torstai 20. lokakuuta 2011

Mix in the morning

Nice training session with Kumma in the morning. Here is our training mix! Funny how you can squeeze 1h training into 2 minutes :)

lauantai 15. lokakuuta 2011

Seesaw and turns

Good and not so good training sessions with Kumma this week. Good ones are those that are well planned, well executed, and well stopped. How hard it can be to stop at the right point... Too hard sometimes. One more, just one more. If this one more is successful, good. But when this one more is a fail, a good and effective training session turns into a longer and blurred one. Fortunately majority of training sessions have been good with clear progress.

Turns - We have worked on different kinds of tight turns. Jumping and turning tightly, going around and jumping, and turning away from me. Plan is to start mixing these more, as well as increase height.

Serpentine - Some work with serpentine to increase Kumma's ability to find jumps independently. Nice! With low jumps, so need to increase height gradually.

Seesaw - Training with lowered seesaw, and using a small table. Free drop was ~40cm. Nice confidence and 2on2off. Practised separately staying in 2on2off when I moved the plank a little.

Weaving - It seems difficult for Kumma to find a pure single stepping rhythm. I will leave this for a while, and focus on entries using 6 poles, taking full set of poles only every now and then. Two reps of 12 poles is enough for Kumma, after that speed decreases.

Jumping - Height estimation this week, 45-55-60-65-50cm, nice jumping. Need to work on long and wall jumps. On courses jump height has been 40 to 55cm, could start using 45 to 60cm.

Upside contacts - Working with a target box, criteria is both front feet in the box. It is so easy to click for not good performances... Good practice for me as a dog trainer. I'm so happy I'm not training running contacts!

Relaxing loooong walk today with Kumma. Short walk with Hoppu and Neeo. A really fun shaping session with Neeo.

Kumma 18 months - pics

maanantai 10. lokakuuta 2011


Rainy weather all day long. In the morning a walk with Kumma, some recalls and playing. I decided to skip the agility class in the evening, training would have been outside and children were supposed to come with me. Some shaping sessions in the living room instead. I shaped Kumma to take a toy and to drop it in the box. Final target: collect everything (mainly toys and clothes) on the floor/yard, and to take to correct places. With Neeo I shaped all 4 legs in a box, funny how hard it is for him to understand his rear legs. Kumma offered this right away when trying to shape for the toy instead... With Hoppu some rewarding for sits and downs, and he was so happy for attention.

For some reason Kumma stopped jumping into the car. He was uncorfortable with this also earlier, but after building value for jumping into it worked fine. I believe his hesitation is due to a metal plate as a crate floor, it makes some noise when Kumma moves. I removed the plate and replaced it with a soft textil. In addition I have given majority of Kumma's food inside car crate, and this is clearly making a difference. I will continue to do this for a while, to get him to relax and enjoy being in the car crate.

During the weekend we did some turning and weaving exercises. With weaving I need to be very careful not to take too many reps. 2 to 3 reps after exercise when muscles are warm, that's our recipe now. This is for achieving a single stepping rhythm, with slightly open pairs.

I have plenty of things in mind that I'd like to train, but weather and shortening daylight are setting limits for garden agility sessions. Good news is that our agility club's indoor facility will be in use starting next week!

perjantai 30. syyskuuta 2011

Weaving and jumping

Training videos


Jumping: set point

Kumma 18 months

keskiviikko 28. syyskuuta 2011

Health update

Neeo has recovered well from his hernia operation. Stitches were removed on Friday, and no need to use a collar anymore. IGs need to use a huge collar compared to their size. They have a long nose, and are super agile and flexible, even at 12 years... Neeo had a 20cm collar, and I couldn't let him be free with it without being supervised. He could have hurt himself when trying to run or jump with it. He is eating well, moving well, and full of energy as usual. One more month on leash exercise only, but after that Neeo can again join our walks in the woods.

Kumma was X-rayed today. Hips, elbows, shoulders, and spine are all perfect!!! Official hip and elbow results will be given later by the Finnish Kennel Club.

lauantai 10. syyskuuta 2011


Pari kuukautta sitten Neeo liukastui epätasaisella liukkaalla lattialla, kellahti kumoon, ja löi takapuolensa maahan niin lujaa, että kiljahti. Peppuun tuli heti suurehko patti, joka näytti hurjalta. Vein koiran kotiin ja ajattelin seurailla tilannetta pari tuntia ja päättää sitten täytyykö käydä näyttämässä. Patti kuitenkin katosi samana päivänä ja koira oli oma iloinen itsensä. Juttu ihmetytti, mutta unohtui vähitellen.

Kunnes viime sunnuntaina patti ilmestyi taas yhtäkkiä peppuun hännän viereen. Tunnustelin sitä varovasti, tuntui pehmeältä nestepatilta, eikä ollut arka. Neeo liikkui ja käyttäytyi normaalisti. Pidin kuitenkin koiraa levossa boksissa. Jonkin ajan kuluttua patti oli kadonnut. Sama toistui tiistaina. Ja keskiviikkona. Ja torstaina. Keskiviikkona soittelin jo aikaa lääkäriin ja perjantaiaamuna päästiin vastaanotolle. Koira oli reipas ja vauhdikas, kuten yleensäkin. Kun pakkasi koiran autoon, pattia ei näkynyt. Autosta ulos otettaessa patti oli taas takamuksessa.

Patista otettiin ohutneulanäyte, ja yllätykseksi siitä tulikin keltaista nestettä, virtsaa. Seuraavaksi ultraan varmistamaan arvio ongelmasta. Diagnoosi: repeämä lihaksessa eli tyrä, jonne oli mennyt virtsarakko. Suuri riski verenmyrkytykselle. Riskinä myös, että virtsarakon lisäksi olisi voinut repeämään mennä suolistoa. Lääkäri suositteli leikkausta heti, mutta heillä ei ollut osaamista tämän tyyppiseen leikkaukseen. Hän kertoi toisella eläinlääkäriasemalla olevan sopivan henkilön ja lähti selvittämään mahdollisutta päästä sinne. Meillä kävi tosi hyvä tuuri, lääkäri oli tulossa töihin samana päivänä myöhemmin, ja tuli nyt pari tuntia aikaisemmin hoitaakseen Neeon. Ensimmäiselle vastaanotolle menosta kului vajaa kolme tuntia, kun koira oli leikkaussalissa.

Leikkaus sujui hyvin ja hain Nepsun illalla kotiin. Takamuksessa on miltei 10cm leikkaushaava tikkeineen. Kipulääkettä, antibioottia, ja kaulurielämää. Toipuminen vie pari kuukautta.

Onneksi kohdalle osuivat erinomaiset lääkärit. Mielessä pyörii mitä kaikkea voikin käydä, ja mikä tuuri oli että koira on ollut kivuton ja hyvässä kunnossa, kun romahdus olisi voinut odottaa kulman takana. Onhan vuosia jo takana, mutta toivottavasti yhteistä aikaa on vielä jäljellä.

torstai 8. syyskuuta 2011

Plenty of action

2 hours of training with Zeljco Gora. I knew close to nothing of his methods or style when I decided to use this opportunity to participate. I'm happy I did, this training was excellent and gave a lot to think. There were only jumps and tunnels on the course, and Kumma did 40 to 45cm jumps. Exercises were pretty challenging for us. What I liked in this training was that it matched well  with my thoughts and plans about giving a dog his own responsibility, and not to micromanage everything by being close and using complex handling manoeuvres (because I don't feel confortable with those).

Some notes and thoughts after the training:
  • Need to work on tight turns with a tunnel entries next to a jump.
  • Go on cue needs much more training.
  • Lateral lead out with 180 jumps, followed by a front cross, was not easy for us.
  • Focus on training quality, not quantity. Keep sessions short, don't do "one more" repetition.
  • I need to think how I'd like to balance independent obstacle performance, verbal cues, and my own movement. For example I want Kumma to react when I'm changing hands without a verbal cue.
  • Kumma had nice focus and speed, but at the end he was tired and not doing his best anymore.
Agility class in the evening. Lights were not working and we were able to do only pull throughts in poor lighting.We did those in both directions with one to three jumps, and Kumma did great job. I didn't use verbal cuing at all, and Kumma responded nicely to my handling. At the end we did too many reps, and he started to lose interest. Don't do "one more"!

Jumping class with Vappu and girl friends Rinna, Sara and Sätkä.
  • Started with basic grid, 6 jumps in a zigzag. 3 reps, ok but lacking power and fun a bit. For some reason Kumma was distracted, even if the place and other dogs were familiar.
  • Next one was 6ft-jump-9ft-low jump-9ft-low jump (-tunnel). This was technically ok, but motivation was not there. A tunnel was added at the end, but still there was not enough drive.
  • Third and last was was a set point, with a 6ft distance. No sit and stay this time, play and go was the plan and it worked really well. I'm not sure how many reps there where, perhaps six or seven. Jump was a double one, starting low. At highest it was 65cm, with a 7ft distance. That time Kumma knocked the front bar. Back down, and then 60cm. It was a perfect jump! Kumma has good and fluent jumping technique. 
  • We can forget sit and stay for a while, and do everything as play and go.
  • In courses we can continue using 40 to 45cm jumps, and one or two higher ones (50 to 55cm) as surprises.
  • Excellent training!
Thursday - in Finnish due to vocabulary...
Tänään Kumppis kävi fyssarilla, toinen kerta. Liikkui suorana, taipuu ok, ravissa hieman takakorkea ja keskiselkä lievästi notkolla. Seistessä symmetrinen, syvät lihakset kohtalaiset, mutta saavat vielä kehittyä etenkin etuosassa ja vartalossa. Kireyttä oli jonkin verran etureisissä, ja oikealla puolella myös rintalihaksissa. Kumma antoi hienosti käsitellä, ja saatiin jumppaohjeita, osa tuttuja, osa uusia. Yhteenvetona kaikki hyvin, ei mitään erityisiä löydöksiä, hyvillä mielin voi treenailla.

sunnuntai 4. syyskuuta 2011

Neeo 12 years

Last week Neeo had his 12th birthday! We made the birthday walk in the dark. I was planning to take some birthday pics of Neeo, but haven't had a good moment yet. It should be sunny tomorrow, so I'll try to catch some.

Even if there is a feeling of autumn in the air, we have been lucky to have beautiful and warm days. Kumma likes cooler weather and runs around and around in the woods. Today I let Kumma and Neeo go off leash in a usual place, and a second later I realized a young man was coming from the opposite direction, partly hidden behind trees. Poor him got a shock when Kumma run full speed ahead, noticed him and barked a couple of times, then focused on other things. I apologized, and the man seemed to recover.

I'm still struggling what to do with Kumma's upside contacts. Too many options, and none of them has that bright light around telling this is it, that's how I'll do it. But despite of that, agility training is progressing nicely. We have had good training sessions in handling, jumping, and basic obstacle performance. More work is needed with special obstacles like long jump and wall jump. Kumma is jumping a tire really well, last session was done with final height, and it will now stay there. Table training has been easy, thanks to crate games. Teeter need lots of work. For a tunnel I will use two cues, one for going through and going forward, another one for going through and turning tightly. I'd like to start some discrimination training soon as well.

Kumma weaves now a full set of 12 poles. As I have only 6 poles at home, I should now work on entries, handling, and distractions in other places. Or to buy another set of 6...

We will have 3 days of agility classes in a row, and later next week Kumma will visit a physiotherapist. I have also booked x-ray for hips and elbows at the end of September, that will be the 1st anesthesia for Kumma.

Hoppu is doing fine, joining the walks whenever we take on leash routes, enjoying exercise and sniffing around. At home he is the one making sure their feeding time is not forgotten.

Big news at the end, Hoppu's granddaughter Kukka (Tarumetsän Pienet Jäljet) won European Chanpionship in sighthound racing!!!

keskiviikko 17. elokuuta 2011

Training with joy

This is fantastic:

perjantai 12. elokuuta 2011

Importance of planning

Planning training sessions is essential if you really want to progress with each training session. But with a dog, you can't just run through as planned. You have to be able during a session to analyze dog's behaviour and adjust a plan accordingly. On the go. This isn't easy. Some sessions are just perfect, and you reach clear results. In many cases there is something that influence training. A plan was not realistic, temperature was too high for planned activities, you were tired and could not focus, environment was too distracting, your instructor is not thinking the same way and offered opposite advice to your plans, or training time is limited. Just to mention some...

Without a plan training is likely to be just repeating same old stuff. For the dog this doesn't matter, he is likely to have just as much fun repeating familiar skills and tricks if those are rewarded. But for the handler a target of continuous development requires lots of thinking and planning. Where are we know? What's the next step and criteria? Should I move to the next level now? How can I test this skill? This problem I didn't expect, what to do now?

It has been great to follow how amazingly Kumma is responding to training. How fast he is learning, and how well he is using learned skills in other more distracting environments. He has a lot of potential, and it depends mainly on my skills as a trainer how much he will learn in agility world as well as in everyday life.

Back to this week's training. We had a good jumping training the other day, well planned and well applied. Extremely good results.

Basig grid with doubles, 3 reps. One without handler movement, two with running. Prior to third one I turned on Kumma's engine by whispering "Where is the toy?" and taking take off position myself. Excellent jumping even with high drive!

Landing exercise with a 40cm double jump, 3 reps like with the basic grid. Again excellent jumping with good bouncing.

Set point with a 6ft distance, 4 reps. 45-50-55-40cm. Nice jumps. This was the 2nd time Kumma jumped 55cm, and it looked really good. Could start using higher jumps in handling training, I have used max 45cm so far.

keskiviikko 10. elokuuta 2011

Super boy

Agility class yesterday with Kumma. What a super boy he is!

Full set of 12 weave poles, three repetitions. #1: good start but mistake at the end of the poles. No reward, redirecting and new try. #2: successful weaving, a bit slow but he was thinking :) Toy reward. #3: successful weaving, good speed, and good rhythm!!! Toy reward and lots of play. There was an extra distraction of water puddles under the poles.

Low teeter: Kumma slammed a low teeter down confidently. Combination of teeter movement and 2o2o needs practising. I need to add a cue for this (and decide which word to use).

Reminders for myself: need to practice lateral distance in lead outs, and start working on lead out pivots. Need to plan teeter training sessions properly, not just to go and try what happens...

maanantai 8. elokuuta 2011

August stories

Enjoying warm rays of sun
Last week in our agility class I worked on Kumma's 2-on-2-off on the A-frame. He did great, with a tunnel ahead as a distraction, and with a front cross. Then we performed a little test. A long straight tunnel in front of the A-frame and what happened? Beautiful jump right onto the edge of the contact zone. One more 2o2o without any speed, and he didn't touch the upside contact zone at all. I wanted to believe that A-frame wouldn't be a problem, only the dogwalk, but evidence is there. Disappointing, but not surprising. Kumma is a big boy with a strong engine. Now I have put A-frame and dogwalk training on hold, there is no point to reinforce wrong performance until I have told Kumma what to do with upside contact zones.

We have started working on this at home, using first a wooden frame, and now a taped frame on the floor. I plan to transfer that onto the training board, then to real obstacles.

Taking a nap in the greenhouse

I haven't done too much weave training lately with Kumma, some reps with 6 poles every now and then with or without a jump in front. A week ago I introduced full 12 poles for the first time. He did them twice, but rather slowly. Yesterday evening, when temperature was a bit lower, I started a training session with 6 poles. Just two repetitions, and Kumma's speed and rhythm was fantastic! I have only 6 poles on the backyard, so training a full set requires going somewhere else.

We also visited Vappu recently with aussie friends Rinna and Sara. Kumma got some new jumping exercises in front of him.He started with a basic grid, but instead of standard 5 jumps there were 9 jumps. First he run through without good body management, then he started thinking and trying. Second exercise was a combination of landing (with a 40cm double jump), bending (5 jumps), and progressive grid. I have videos, try to add them later. Comments and homework:
  • Kumma works and uses his body well, but needs challenges to keep him interested and focused. I need to keep him motivated and in high arousal zone with play and games. "Racing to a toy" is a game that can be used with jumping exercises occasionally to add fun and speed.
  • Basic grid with double jumps, height 20-25cm.
  • Landing exercise (spaces 6-9-9).
  • Mix and match exercises, adding handler movement.
Today Kummajainen enjoyed running in the woods with a havanese friend Vili. Neeo was also with us, but he didn't appreciate children's rough play. No wonder, Neeo will be 12 in two weeks! Hoppu got his own walk later in the evening. My daughter cycled and we needed to run a little to keep up with her. Running with a blind dog, something I haven't tried before... Hoppu was a happy little hurricane, he trusts me as his guide human :)

Sweet Hoppu 12.5 years
Neeo in summer cottage

perjantai 22. heinäkuuta 2011

Summer pictures

Kumma hasn't figured out swimming yet, hope he will but he might need a teacher

Neeo and Kumma

This is Kumma's favourite spot in our garden

Hoppu loves summertime

sunnuntai 17. heinäkuuta 2011

2x2 update

Summer days fly! Nice 2x2 training session today :)

tiistai 21. kesäkuuta 2011


Yesterday Kumma was introduced to sheep. For my 100% unexperienced eyes he looked like a professional sheepdog with them. Well, perhaps a little too excited momentarily. It is impossible for me to explain more due to my lack of knowledge of herding and related vocabulary. All I can say it that Kumma enjoyed and seemed to have potential.

Also brother Viiru and sister Peak were there. Viiru was a novice as well, Peak had had some sessions earlier. At the end of the evening litter mates had a good run together.

keskiviikko 8. kesäkuuta 2011

Agility class

Yesterday we had a good agility class with Kumma.

We started by having some fast pace tunnel entries from different angles with a U-shaped tunnel. Kumma found the entry easily even from behind.

Next we tested 2-on-2-off (dogwalk ramp on the table). I run past Kumma. Three repetitions. He offered excellent 2o2o every time. I released to a thrown toy. Once I went back and rewarded with treats the 2o2o position. Kumma also made a full dogwalk twice. The first one was a bit slow, I run ahead too fast. The 2nd one was better, Kumma needs still me being close when he is going over the dogwalk. But he is relaxed and not hesitating. Speed will come with confidence. Nice 2o2o, and release to the thrown toy. Homework: decide how to train upside contacts, and START TRAINING. I cannot postpone this anymore... Kumma has done only a few reps on the full dogwalk, and I have already seen that the upside has to be trained...

Handling theme was a pull through. Simple exercise with two parallel jumps. I haven't made this with Kumma, only some preparation training with one jump. Kumma reacted well to changing hand, even if I didn't use any verbal cue. From right to left push through was excellent, but from left to right we struggled. Partly due to Kumma getting tired. Partly due to me getting tired :) It was great to have an instructor, even if this is a very basic handling exercise. Getting on the spot comments and advice on my own timing and movement is really valuable.

The last exercise was about speed and fun: three jumps in a line and a U-shaped tunnel. Plan was to take off together with the dog, and encourage him to go on. This worked well when we took two jumps and the tunnel, but when taking all three jumps, Kumma started slowing down slightly before the tunnel. Homework: teach a go on cue.

After the class Kumma run and played together with girls Rinna and Sätkä. Idyllic warm summer evening. Suddenly Kumma disappeared into bushes. He responded well to my recall, but it was too late. He was smelling %#*%#. Evening shower, I tried to hold my breath.

Health care

All three visited the vet last week.

Hoppu: Weight 7.5kg. Teeth were cleaned. X-ray was taken prior to operation, and there was a unpleasent surprise. Hoppu's upper jaw bone has a fracture. Also one of the teeth was broken, it was carefully removed. It is likely that he has hit himself against something causing these two injuries. Poor Hoppu, learning to live without seeing. I haven't noticed him showing any signs of pain. Luckily the jaw fracture is such that it should heal by itself. Only advice was to give soft food for 6 weeks. And avoid further accidents... A new X-ray will be taken in 3 months. If everything looks normal, then two additional teeth will be removed. The vet told that this case was a good example how important it is to have X-ray taken before cleaning and removing teeth. The broken jaw could have been seriously damaged if teeth had been removed closeby.

Neeo: Weight 6.9kg. Teeth cleaning. No surprises. One tooth was removed.

Kumma: Weight 20kg. Basic vet check and rabies vaccination.

lauantai 28. toukokuuta 2011

1 month of 2x2

I started 2x2 weave training with Kumma 1 month ago. Today he took a jump, I made a rear cross, and he weaved 4 poles in a straight line! Next steps will be adding 3rd pair of poles, and hitting harder entries from full speed using a jump before the poles.

I don't want to hurry by progressing too fast. Kumma is a big boy, and needs time to learn to use his still developing body. He is thinking hard during training sessions, and I need to keep the sessions short. If he gets tired, he starts slowing down.

sunnuntai 8. toukokuuta 2011

Jumping seminar

I spent a whole day at Vappu's jumping seminar. Familiar dogs and handlers, it was great to see how they had developmed since our Jan seminar. Different breeds, different jumping styles. Again I learnt a lot.

How about Kumma? Plenty of new challenges were introduced for him, and he managed them well. I'm proud of him! He thinks what and how to do. Vappu also commented that he is still unmature, and needs time to develop physically, but for his age and type (big strong bc) he does good work. He focused on his tasks really well even if he was starting to be tired mentally and physically.

New for Kumma:
  • Power grid (Nice!)
  • Steady 1 stride (1st try was difficult, one knocked pole and no good rhythm. 2nd try was great!)
  • Double jump (Over without hesitation!)
(Mistake in video, first jump after "Double jump" title is not a double, but a single jump of 40cm)

Uncle One was also at the seminar, he performed incredibly hard exercises with such speed and precision that it was just amazing.

torstai 5. toukokuuta 2011

Kumma 13 months

Short training update for Kumma who is now 13 months old.

2x2: we started 2x2 weave training 2 weeks ago. We have had max 2 sessions a day, sometimes only 1, and several days of no training. I was planning to have videos of all sessions, but this didn't happen. I need to use short opportunities to go outside to train, and don't usually have time to find a camera, and get it ready to shoot. Kumma started to offer going through one set of poles right away, and I added 2nd set of poles only after a couple of sessions. At the moment I'm using 2 sets of poles, 4ft apart, and their position is 1o'clock - 7 o'clock. I plan to close openings slowly, always ensuring that all entry angles are managed by Kumma. His drive during these training sessions has been excellent! I should also take the poles to other locations, we have been practising only in our garden.

Jumping: jump height has been up to 40cm. For my eyes Kumma is always thinking what to do, and jumping fluently. Basic grid height has been 15cm, and I've started to add handler motion. Both distance and height estimation have been successful. This week during our group agility class Kumma had some difficulties with the basic grid. I was thinking that it was due to distractions (other pups), but only later I realized there were six jumps instead of five I have used. No wonder this was challenging for Kumma! But he managed 4th try :)

2o2o: with this I need to take a step back and build again value for 2o2o position. Then next step is to start building drive for getting into 2o2o position even if I'm behind. When I'm ahead of Kumma, he has good drive and nice 2o2o.

Handling: it is nice to have again a weekly class with an instructor. We have done drills with 3 to 4 obstacles (jumps and tunnels), and it is funny how exiting it feels to start putting puzzle parts together and see how Kumma can manage drills of several obstacles. It also feels great to do some real handling after a long break. Nothing fancy, just very basic FC and RC.

Start line stay: last but not least, I have to say that Kumma's start line stay is just perfect. I have to remind myself to reward that often.

As usual this is not all. Next Sunday we'll go to Vappu's jumping seminar!

Vet check

All three doggies visited a vet today.

Neeo: blood test, all results that were checked right away were good. Some values need to be analyzed by  a lab. No changes in his heart, a light murmur is still there. Teeth are again in bad condition, and will be cleaned soon. Weight 6.7kg.

Hoppu: fast pulse, but Hoppu was nervous. Also Hoppu's teeth need cleaning. Blood test will be taken on teeth cleaning day. Forgot to take his weight.

Kumma: vaccination was given. Rabies vaccination willl be given at the end of May. General health check was done, and everything was normal. Weight 19.5kg.

Before going to the vet I had all three on leash and we had a nice walk. It is difficult to understand that Hoppu is blind when he is on leash. He is walking so confidently, sniffing around like always. Kumma has been recently a very nice leash walking company, managing to keep loose leash most of the time. I'm really happy that the pack of three gets so well along, even now when Hoppu doesn't see anymore.

sunnuntai 1. toukokuuta 2011

Hoppu is blind

How ironic that in my last post I wrote about how both old IGs are in good condition. Now Hoppu doesn't see any more. It was only one week ago when I noticed his vision (with one eye, other one has been blind since end of 2008) is not normal anymore. It got worse everyday, and on Thursday both IGs had their eyes checked. Hoppu's diagnosis was exactly what I anticipated, due to vitreous degeneration a retina was detached (like in the other eye earlier).

Now we'll see how the grey hurricane learns to live without seeing the world around him. He moves inside and outside, but less than usual and gets sometimes confused. Today I took all three for a walk on leash, and Hoppu was moving happily and confidently.

It is hard to understand that Hoppu will never again run free and fast.

Good news is that even if Neeo also has vitreous degeneration in his eyes, he has no early signs of retina detachment. This disease is fairly common with IGs (and whippets), but rarely the end result is blindness.

keskiviikko 6. huhtikuuta 2011

Kumma 1 year

Long time since last update. Kumma spent his 1st birthday at a dog kennel with IGs while we humans were enjoying sunshine on the other side of the world. He didn't seem to mind, he had a nice young boxer girl to play with.

Kumma weights now 20kg and is starting to eat adult kibbles. Let's see for how long he'll be a puppy in my mind... He is clearly a teenager now. Going after all kinds of smells, having more interest in other dogs, all kinds of behaviours which belong to doggie life. But not too strongly, he is still a nice young chap.

With more light and higher temperature, Hoppu and Neeo are becoming more active. I'm really happy that both of them are still in excellent condition and I can take all three of them for long walks. There was a small incident two days ago. Hoppu got a small scratch between his eyes, apparently from Kumma (by accident?), and replied by attacking Kumma. Kumma reacted by being as small and still as possible on the ground, and situation was over some seconds. Combination of Kumma's thick hair in his neck and Hoppu having not too many teeth left resulted in no injuries. Despite of this, everyday life between the three is working well.

Some training update with Kumma

Say Yes started Recallers2 e-course in which we are participating. This is a good opportunity to go through all games and exercises again, now increasing level of distractions and challenges. Also, course material is so heavy stuff, that I'm sure this second round will deepen my understanding further. It is relatively easy to understand laws of dog training in theory, but when applying them in practice it's all about little details. Criteria, timing, reinforcement. Planning, achieving, challenging. Building value, adding distractions.

We have done jumping exercises regularly, and I've been very pleased with Kumma's progress. Jump bar height has been up to 35cm and I think Kumma is ready to go higher. There is no rush, but having seen him jumping over a garden fence so fluently, I might start increasing the height in a set point exercise. The fence is now higher, so hopefully Kumma will not take that as a jumping challenge.

I have also started to do more handling training with Kumma. Basic exercises for taking a jump: jump ahead, jump and turn tightly, go backside and jump. Serpentine basics, pull in basics, front cross, back cross. All of these have been done with one or two jumps, without speed, and recently with 20cm bars.

2-on-2-off training: I have started to add rear cross and front cross as distraction. Last training session was really great, suddenly there was much more speed and still very good 2o2o performance. I didn't use any toy target in front, and rewarded 2o2o a couple of times separately. Mostly I released to a thrown toy.

I haven't paid too much attention to speed with Kumma. I'm trusting on DASH principle. Speed will come when understanding is there. and I have seen such flashes of Kumma's speed that I know it is built inside :) I'll be happy if he is not one of the fastest BCs, I'm sure there will be enough challenges for me as a handler in any case. Kumma will not be a limiting factor.

But Kumma being a big male BC, I want to focus on building good jumping and turning skills right from the start. This will be important foundation when there will be more speed.

Looking forward to start 2x2 weave training. Just waiting for rest of the snow to melt away.

sunnuntai 27. helmikuuta 2011

Kumma 11 months

Kumma is now 11 months old, strategic measures are 19.6kg and 57cm. Big boy.

Today I made a nice long walk with all three dogs. Lovely sunshine!

The big boy went once to the other side of the fence, checking if he could see his friend behing neighbour's living room windows... I have started to reinforce recall in from the backyard, back to basics.

lauantai 26. helmikuuta 2011

Cold, colder, and some light at the end of the tunnel

Finally weather is more reasonable, and I was able to take Hoppu and Neeo for a walk. Only 15 minutes, but they clearly enjoyed it. After that it was Kumma's turn. We met a new retriever friend, and Kumma had a good play and wrestle session with him. That was needed, he was such a jumpy fellow after spending daytime quietly at home.

Bad news is that our agility club's indoor facility will be closed for some time due to issues with its mechanical structure. No jumping seminar that was supposed to be next week, no weekly puppy class for some time.

I haven't had time to write too much about Kumma's training, and now don't know from where to start. I try to put something together here.

Crate games

At home we have concentrated on two things: increasing time (stay inside, door open) and how to behave when a doorbell rings. The doorbell project is challenging, but I have to say that Kumma is proceeding well. Challenging factors is two IGs which go nuts whenever there is someone on the door. With Kumma I have builded a lot of value staying in the crate whatever happens around him. Mostly he does that really well. I have also started to introduce the sound of the doorbell as a cue for him to go into the crate. It is not enough to go there, but he has to stay quiet as well. Two barking dogs are more than enough. I'm getting more and more frustrated with Hoppu's and Neeo's behaviour, but retraining two oldies is not possible now. Since Hoppu lost a vision from one eye, he has become more and more vocal. Balancing lost of one sense with another (can't see you, but you hear me...)? So I'm trying to a lot of effort in training Kumma with all of these everyday distractions...

I'm using a soft crate during training sessions. There are two reasons for this. I'm able to practice crate games each time, and I'm able to control Kumma's behavior better when he is waiting for his turn. I don't want him to start barking white waiting, and I'm trying to avoid those situations as much as I can. This week when I had a 1 hour training session with Kumma, I was able to keep the crate door open all the time. He stayed nicely inside whenI was moving obstacles or doing other preparations. He was able to relax and rest while keeping eye on me. Only once he moved his front feet outside the crate, then I just closed the door for some secs. There were only the two of us, so minimum amount of distractions. Once another dog was barking outside, right behind the wall, but Kumma stayed in the crate, quiet.


I wanted to add fun and speed to 2o2o training, and started to add handler movement. Last time I also added a tunnel as a distraction, but also as a reward and I could release him into the tunnel. I haven't started training a full dogwalk yet. Kumma has done it only a couple of times, just to have something to think of. Being a big BC with long stride, I have to decide what to do with upside contacts. I've been thinking of a box method.


Basic grids, expanding grids, bending, adding handler movement, adding a jump bar, adding a tunnel after a grid.

Success with one jump

I've been watching again this great DVD by Susan Garrett. It includes good foundation exercises with one jump, and we have been practising some of them. Once we can start garden agility, I can focus more on this type of exercises (and start 2x2 for weaving).


Handling training done so far has been really simple. Front cross, some rear cross foundation, going around. There are so many handling terms nowadays that I don't know half of them. I have time to learn and decide which ones are for us. I don't want to make it too complicated, and rather use time for foundation and consistency.

Scent discrimination

Only one session left, this course has been really good! Last time we had one instructor only for us, following each step and giving advice. Kumma was offering too much movement, and not using his nose clearly enough. After some changes he started to use his nose, and pointed the jar with tea scent clearly.

This is not all, but enough for today.

perjantai 18. helmikuuta 2011

Jump bar!

As Kumma is now a big boy, a jump bar was introduced to him yesterday. Only four jumps, and he was clearly tired after that. He had a lot to think :)

Today evening I took Kumma for an evening walk. It was really cold, -24C, and I decided to put his brand new red coat on him. Kumma was so amazed that we had a peaceful walk, no pulling and jumping. At the end he was ok with the coat, even had a few runs with fun style.

Neeo joined agility training yesterday. He was full of energy, and we had some fun drills with low jumps and tunnels. Once he got out of the tunnel pretty slowly. Later I noticed some blood in a crate, and found out that one of his nails was broken. Good news is that it does not bother him.

IGs are living inside. Perhaps next month they can join for a walk?

torstai 10. helmikuuta 2011

Tea time and Feb pics

I don't like coffee, I don't drink it at all. Tea is my thing, black tea, no sugar, no milk. Darjeeling is my favourite. And I'm going to have a tea dog! Well, at least for a while. I wanted to try something else than agility with Kumma, and decided to take him to scent discrimination training. This is completely new for me, and I find it really fascinating. Smell of tea is used in training, but similar training method can be applied for any other smell and purpose. Perhaps chanterelles and other mushrooms? Missing gloves and socks? Car keys? Kids?

Now it's too cold for IGs, but here is some evidence they are not always hiding under the blankets

I'm never hiding, I'm Mr Action.

Shall I look like this when old?

Does this artificial greying make me look smarter?


maanantai 7. helmikuuta 2011

On the other side

Our garden fence is not a limiting factor for Kumma anymore. On the other side, there is neighbour's puppy, a fun friend to play with. With the help of high snow level this new buddy can be easily reached. No need to jump, just step over. Great.

sunnuntai 6. helmikuuta 2011


Yesterday Kumma had an opportunity to burn energy with our neighbour's puppy (4-months-old bichon havanese). We had a walk in the woods, and puppies were wresting and running. In the beginning it was a bit out of control, as both of them were over excited. Pretty soon they got their brains back, and I made some recalls and playing with Kumma, and then let him run off again.

Today I was working at our agility club's trial, and Kumma was with me in the office. He was able to relax in his crate for several hours, even if people came in and out all the time. He has a short playing session with another puppy, and I took him outside a couple of times. At the end I had a playing session with him, and he was very excited and well focused. This was good practice, as next weekend we'll have a jumping seminar again.

I took him to see some agility trials during summer time, guess we should start it again. Indoor trials are so different, more noise, less room.

I have started writing our training update, but meanwhile, here is something in video format.

maanantai 17. tammikuuta 2011

Hoppu 12 years

Our lovely grey superfast cute beautiful elegant fun serious small but huge personality Hoppu has his 12th birthday today!!!

We celebrated by having a nice walk in zero degree weather. It was raining, but never mind, we enjoyed.



2002: half brothers Hoppu and Musti. They have a strong relationship...

2002: same guys (gays?)

2002: half brothers and soulmates at SIC Open Show





perjantai 14. tammikuuta 2011

Training videos

keskiviikko 12. tammikuuta 2011

Old and new tricks

Hoppu will be 12 years next week. I bought a present for him in advance: a dog finder toy. Both IGs have tried it and have learned to find the treats under the bones. It can be made more difficult by adding bones. Good and easy activity for cold winter days. Kumma might use too much power with this toy, so he hasn't tried it yet :)

Today I had a lovely evening walk with all three dogs. Air was still, and temperature was just below zero. Hoppu and Neeo enjoyed exercise, Kumma would have enjoyed faster pace. We met some retriever dog friends, and Kumma had short energy burning playing session with them.

Yesterday there was our weekly puppy class at our agility club. Some basic handling training with Kumma: front and rear crosses. Front crosses were really good, even though my timing needs practise. Rear crosses were done with a toy hidden behind a second jump. We did only a couple of repetions, and I noticed Kumma didn't have his usual drive. I decided not to train him anymore, he was clearly not focused. I think he was still tired from Sunday jumping seminar, and no wonder, he worked a lot there and experienced many new things like resting in his crate next to other dogs. We ended the puppy class evening by having a nice walk, Kumma playing with an aussie friend, and me chatting (about dog training, of course) with her owner.

sunnuntai 9. tammikuuta 2011

Jumping seminar

I spent today at a jumping seminar with Kumma. Instructor was again Vappu Alatalo, and the seminar was organized by our agility club HAU. There were three groups of dogs, depending on experience. Here is what Kumma did (everything with jump bumps), and some notes of each exercise.

Basic grid (equally spaced 6ft): there was some lack of motivation, and as a result not enough speed and energy. Leaving a toy as a target, and getting Kumma to play with another one was something we haven't done before. One more thing to practice :) I've been rewarding a sit too much. If I'm increasing Kumma's drive by playing with him, rewarding with treats can decrease the drive. Jumping itself was good, Kumma managed all grids. I kept changing my position, left and right, close to Kumma and close to the target.

Expanding grid (6-7-8-9ft): at first Kumma was distracted by the audience. It worked best to place Kumma in a sit position, run to the target, and release fast. Nice jumping!

Basic grid with zigzag jump bumps: since Kumma was affected by the audience, all participants came very close. I left Kumma in the sit position, run to the target, and released him. Wow what a great pup! No hesitation at all even if he has never seen this exercise in front of him. He was not distracted by a group of people around him. Good jumping! Third time I sent him to the target, and this was fast and good as well.

Bending, five jump bumps as an arch (180 degrees) and a U shaped tunnel: two repetitions, first to the tunnel then jumping. Again, no hesitation, off he went to the jumping part so fluently I almost couldn't believe my eyes. Same to the other direction. According to Vappu clockwise direction was slightly better.

We got plenty of advice what to practice with jump bumps before even introducing a jump bar:
  • Basic grid with jump bumps in different directions or slightly offset
  • Handler distractions, starting with static positions, adding movement gradually, lateral distance up to 15m
  • Bending
  • Set point with a special puppy setup
This was an excellent day offering a lot of new learning opportunities and great performances. The more I know about this method, the more I like it. It just makes sense.