P like Patience

I haven’t written much about our trainings in the last months because, to be honest, I struggled with Tadaas motivation. I haven’t found out yet what really drives her. Tadaa is the most settled dog I ever had. Nothing gets her scared, she is open and friendly with everyone and has no problems being and playing at different places. So she’s really cool, but in training maybe a little bit too cool. Nothing really triggers her. She can watch Halli in training, she can play, she takes food, but nothing to get her fighting for it. My friends have heard a lot of my troubles (probably too much).

So I looked back how I worked with Halli. And we had some struggles too. Low interest, low motivation, hormones and for me low fun. But I never gave up. As I trained his full sister Tvitvi and followed the training with his brother Mick I knew it’s in him. We just needed to find out how to get it. It wasn’t always fun, and training with a low motivated dog isn’t actually helping my motivation. I participated in Katarina Podlipniks online class «fun and motivation», which helped a lot, but still didn’t trigger everything he could give. I lowered my expectations and only played with him for several weeks. If I only knew that patience is the most important tool I needed to have.

I continued working with him, teaching him basics, teaching him runnings (and that was a struggle! who could know that there are dogs who simply don’t get the concept of targets!). He wasn’t much into food, but liked to play. So we rewarded everything with toy. And I guess everyone who tried to reward shaping RC with only toys as tool know how tricky that can be.

Nobody is perfect

I’m not perfect, my dogs are not perfect. But being ok with that I need to remind myself sometimes. Especially that I’m not perfect. Every dog is different, they learn different, have different needs, different drives. Even through I went threw frustration, and still do, I never gave up. I like to plan my trainings, but sometimes things just go in their own speed. Halli taught me that a lot.

Competitions are experiences too

A trainer once told me trainings are for building up and competitions can build down. As we sometimes are tempted to loose our criteria. And that has for sure a good point. With Halli is started to compete early because I felt with his trainings that he needed to grow with experience. He has shown me that I was actually right with this decision. He went quite fast through a process of a little dog who was eager in training, but insecure in competitions. Not going all in and not even daring to try (like his first competitions with contacts). I never had that problem before with my other dogs who were really easy and highly motivated from the start. But that was ok. I saw with each new competition that he grew, he dared more and he experienced that «oh, that’s the same agility we do in training». I wouldn’t recommend that strategy with every dog, that’s why I want to point out that this was for his needs.

New dog – new experience

So now Tadaa is almost one year old. We didn’t get to more to tunnels and turnings or two straight jumps. With her I needed to teach her to play first, then finding out that it’s worth doing something together with me. I annoy my friends all the time with my struggles, but in the end I guess time will show what she really needs to have maximum fun doing Agility with me. I’m not the type who is giving up.

Quarantine Homework 1

I hope all of you are safe and healthy and staying home in those Corona virus times. As a doctor working in the emergency room and ambulance I know how scary such a situation can be. Please stay home and keep distance to each other to protect yourself and the weakest of our society. Staying home and being healthy is the most important measure to support the health care system. Being antisocial has never been so social. Being isolated/in quarantine means sacrificing a lot quality of life but restrictions in short time will give us back our freedom in the long run.

I know many of you are permitted from work or self employed which leads to a difficult economic situation. Many of you are excluded from agility training, agility halls or closed, competitions and seminars are cancelled – and nobody knows for how long and the most of us are in the same boat.

In the next weeks – as long as Europe is in a quarantine situation – I’ll try to post weekly puppy/agility foundation challenges you can train at home with minimal space. This are things I am training with Kairi at the moment (if my work allows some time for puppytraining). Let’s make the best of this situation and help each other, have some fun and entertain/exercise our dogs.

Holding objects – Kairi wasn’t that comfortable with the bottle falling down on her feet. I’ll try to find an object which is a little bit lighter and doesn’t make that much sound. 🙂
Cleaning up – Start with a really light object like a pen and reward for showing interest to the object. Have a bowl in the near and reward with throwing the reward into the bowl. Jackpot reward every step closer to the bowl. Try different objects and bowl afterwards. 🙂

Have fun and just write in the comments if you have questions or suggestions! 🙂

Find new playgrounds

I start playing and training new tricks at safe and known places with my puppy with as little distractions as possible. That helps the puppy to learn things faster.

But after some training sessions it’s time to test playing and some learned things at new places. To generalize training is important to me, and new places shouldn’t be uncomfortable or scary for my dog.

Tadaa always joins for trainings with Halli, competitions where I compete or and Jan Egil judges. And I always take the opportunity to play with her there.

Ask as many different clubs, owners of training places or friends as possible if you can book an hour or find a little time to play. And if you are competing for example with an older dog, take your puppy out in the breaks and play with it.

A friend has her training field next to her ponies. I had to take this opportunity to play next to them.
New surroundings and new surface.

Keeping an almost 10 year old dog in shape

05.10.2010 – the day I met Liv for the first time. I can remember how excited I was when I woke up that morning. The 5 hour train ride to Munich airport, the first cuddle, the car ride to the breeders home. Especially the car ride home, thanks to the smell of little Liv’s vomit over my jacket haha. We were (and still are) inseparable the next 10 years and we have experienced so much together. Liv is and always will be my baby girl. And if you have a soul dog, your first and forever baby, then it is especially hard to realize that time is going faster than you wish. And all in a sudden, Liv is turning 10 this year. Where did the time go?

Liv is coming to an age where it is common to retire sport dogs from their active sport carrier and of course I spent a lot of thoughts on this topic. Whenever I tell people that she is turning 10, I see surprised faces and disbelief. Liv has barely white hair, flawless movement, pitch-black fur and an unbelievable liveliness. Nobody told her that she is coming to an age where she needs to take it slow and I decided to keep it that way as long as possible.

I have some doubts to retire a perfectly healthy dog just because of age (which is just a number). And sometimes I get sad seeing people buying a bunch of dogs and dropping all of exercise and activities with their «old» dogs because they «need to retire». Or is it because some dogs don’t have the chances to win the first places on the big international competitions anymore? Don’t get me wrong – I believe that NO dog in the world needs competitions and there is nothing wrong with dropping them. And of course, prevention is better than rehabilitation. But to stop all activities, (including training and all those things we crazy agility people do to support our dogs to reach peak performance) from one day to another isn’t fair in my eyes. Do happy and healthy dogs deserve to sit on the reserve bench because they are not as successful anymore? I don’t have the answers but I didn’t chose this option for our Gronendael Ginny who I needed to take out of competitive agility and training due to severe stress-related epileptic seizures. A 7.5 year old working dog in the best age. Retiring – or worse, putting the dog down – is and never was an option. We started with canicross and she found her passion in pulling us through the woods. Away from other dogs, people and other scary things which she can not cope with. Liv on the other hand is fit as a fiddle and she loves the quality time with me. Just the two of us. We started training running contacts when she was 8 years old and we still learn something new every day we spend time together. No dog is too old to learn something new and I love to see the excitement in Liv’s eyes when she can use her brain and body.

To retire a dog is a difficult and highly individual decision, depending on size, body structure and co-morbidities of the dog, as well as ambitions of the owner. Liv is a small dog without any kind of anatomical/structural extremes. She gets annual health-checks and had an orthopedic and cardiologic check-up when turning 8. She never had a single severe or/and sport-related injury in her whole life. And I don’t know if this is due to good genetics or an efficient work-rest-balance. But seeing Liv so healthy and happy is making me think even more about this topic and this is what I am doing to keep Liv in shape:

Agility: We train agility 1, max 2, time(s) per week and most of the time we are just training sequences. Maybe every other week a full course, together with some friends.

Physio: Once a week, guided by a professional dogphysiotherapist. This includes balance, strength, coordination and swimming training. Look at the videos to see what kind of exercises we are doing and look especially at the feet. We spent a lot of time to work on proper feet position because Liv likes to step around like the penguin in happy feet. Proper position is important for the right execution of the exercises (which means more gains and efficiency, less incorrect loading).

Rest: Liv has 1-2 months agility break each year. This means zero agility and this is so important to have to chance to let potential micro injuries heal. When attending a handling seminar, I use to enter just one day – this because those trainings are usually very intensive and I don’t want to train with a tired dog, especially in that age. On rest days we go simple walks like everyone else. Preferably off leash and in the woods.

Liv @atletisk Hund

Here are some general recommendations:

  • Don’t overtrain your dog. Keep the trainings short, effective and remember enough rest days. Don’t repeat sequences and obstacles in training you and your dog already master. Don’t overtrain your dog.
  • Warm up and cool down. Before each competition, each training, each run.
  • Prepare your dog physically to upcoming tasks before adding too much speed and drive. Try to train behaviors without obstacles if possible, without involving too much speed, repetitions or concussion.
  • Give your dog an agility-break each year. This is so important for regeneration. Liv has 1-2 months of zero agility every year.
  • Keep the body of your dog strong and flexible. Invest some time to train strength, balance, coordination, duration and body awareness to prevent your dog from sport-related injuries! Be sure to have enough experience or get help of a professional dogphysiotherapist to guide you through the exercises. Some exercises can be contra productive if they are executed wrong.
  • Get check ups of a veterinary in regular intervals. If you wish for chiropractic treatments, I tend to recommend chiropractors with medical background.
  • Use your head and do some research before feeding your dogs supplements. Don’t spend a lot of money on supplements without any scientific evidence.

First things first: Playing

There are different ways to reward your dog. Playing, treat with food, treat with voice or treat with physical contacts. Not every dog is into all of it and not everything has the same value. Halli is a really good player, but when he was young he wasn’t into food. Tadaa is much into food but playing is not so interesting.

Not every dog is a natural born player, some dogs need to learn it. So this for sure the first thing I test with my puppy. How is it playing? What kind of play does it like? Is it more a chaser or a tugger?

Example: Tadaa

Tadaa likes to run after balls, but she doesn’t like tugging with me with the ball. She also liked chasing the long tuggy toys but again, not tugging.

What I did:

  1. Find out what she likes. She likes balls but nor tugging them. So I used a long tuggy toy from havohravo.com which has a soft part and a ball in the end. She got interested because of the ball, but likes to bite in the soft part more. After some time she realized that it was really fun to tug.
  2. Find secure surroundings and have at least distractions as possible.
  3. Separated training and just playing- No expectations, just having fun.
  4. Be interesting. Running like crazy with the toy from her, make her wanting it. Maybe even using a squeaky toy to get the attention.
  5. Separated playing and food (in the beginning). Once she got food she wanted that for sure more.
  6. Give the play a command. It helps getting in excited mode.
  7. Let her win.
  8. Cheer cheer cheer. It’s for sure exhausting running, cheering and playing at the same time, but she loves it.

Choose your weapon

There are many different kind of toys for different kind of players. The hard part is to find out what kind of player is your dog and what he likes most. The favorite toy can also change.

Chaser

Chasers like to hunt and run after toys. I recommend rewarding with long tuggy toys which can be dragged on the floor or just throwing balls. It will get the dog in hunting mode. You can try to make a tugging game when the dog has catched the toy or you let him win it.

My recommendation: Holee rollers. Because you can also tug a little. Long tuggy toys with soft (faux) fur.

Tugger

Tuggers like to pull the toys and have a little fight with you. Even though rumors say a dog should never win this tugging game otherwise he will be the «leader», I think this is bullsh*t. Some dogs loose motivation if they never win. Some dogs like to tug hard with you, others like more personal space. It’s important to make the tugging comfortable for the dog. I recommend short tuggy toys or holee rollers which you can grab.

My recommendation: Tug toys with a ball in the end. It’s easier for the dog to grab.

Healthy playing is more fun

Always make sure you are playing so it’s physically not harming the dog. Try to have the toy on the dogs height, so the head is not getting pulled up. Be careful with playing while puppies are changing the teeth. If playing is uncomfortable it’s less fun.

Our favorite dog toys are from floramicato , havohravo and dog’s craft.

Kairi Puppyclass

Kairi and me are participating at Silvia Trkman’s puppyclass at the moment and I can tell already that every minute is worth it. Especially for someone like me who is working (more than) fulltime and in shifts are online classes essential. I am trying to train 5 min x 2 everyday and this can be at any hour of the day. And although I do not have the time to record and edit every session we are doing, I am learning a lot by observing my classmates when I have the time..

Here are some videos what we have learned so far. I can highly recommend to take just 5 minutes everyday to teach your puppy tricks. Tricks improve coordination, body awarness and the BRAIN. Teach your pup to think on it’s own and how to be creative. How to use those legs, paws, nose and head. Try to teach useful, silly tricks and have fun together. 🙂

Happy New Year

We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

So much happened in 2019 – hundreds of days with happy memories. Some days of success, some days I’d rather forget. And a few days that showed me that life can be brutal and unfair. When I think about the past year, I don’t want to think about the moments I can brag about. I want to think about the moments I am thankful for. Thankful for being loved, being in love, being healthy, being able to work, being supported and surrounded by the best family, friends and dogs I can imagine.

I have no fancy new year’s resolutions this year. Life has been good to me and it’s time to give something back. Bring it on, 2020.

Ami

DIY balance/contact board

Making a training board isn’t really hard and not expensive. Here is another diy-tipp from me.
I bought a shelf which is 300 wide. (how long is depending on dogs size), a yoga matt and furniture pads. I already have a small balance pad from before. So I cutted the yoga matt in the same size as the board (a little longer, so it’s over the edges), I glued it on, put the furniture pads at the end on the underside and that’s it. Waiting until the glue has dried.
I used the Yoga mat because it’s made for not slipping. It’s also possible to use carpet or bathing mats.
I want to use it for pre-teeter training. Tadaa should get confident with the movement under her paws. It’s also possible to use it for balancing. Happy diy – time 😉

Kairi 6 months

Happy 6 months, Kairi. This is what we have learned/shaped so far (from 15 to 24 weeks).

  • Handtouch
  • Nosetouch
  • Sit/Down
  • Twist left/right
  • Turn left/right around objects
  • 2on2off
  • 4in
  • Target mat
  • Heeling position
  • Watch other dogs run agility
  • City walks
  • Going on a leash
  • Sit stays with short distace and duration
  • Balance pads
  • To not fetch own poop
  • To not eat poop of dog siblings
  • To not eat guinea pigs

Happy Birthday Tvitvi

Three years ago my little surprise was born. I wasn’t sure if I would have a puppy until this day, I remember it like yesterday. When Jan Egil showed her picture to our friends and said «This will be our new dog».

Tvitvi was my first small dog and my first Papillon. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her. She was small, fluffy, confident, funny and biting us all the time. After some time she got also really cudely. I remember watching her while she was sleeping and even telling Jan Egil that she is just the sweetest creature on this earth.

In 2017 we travelled a lot. From Czech, Austria, Germany, France, Northern Norway. Little Tvitvi was an easy and fun traveling companion. Afraid of anything, facing every adventure together with us. She made so many friends, and I think she made quite an impression to some people too.

She was so unbelievable clever and motivated. I had so much fun training with her, I had to take myself back to do not too much. But we had so much fun together.

I remember her warm body rolled together on my lap, she always chose to sleep in contact with me.

And then on january 21. in 2018 the accident happened… I still can’t talk about this day. Only that it broke my heart. I still can’t understand why this most innocent soul had to leave us so early.

I’m thankful for all the nice memories we could share in the short time we had together. I’m forever thankful to Elli, her breeder, who gave her to me. I’m also thankful to Elli and Rebecca, the owner of Tvitivs sister Funny, for becoming my friends.

Fast as the wind, brave as a lion, beautiful like the midnight sky.
I miss you. Every day. My beloved Tvitvi.