Collar Graduation

Figgy has pretty much outgrown her puppy collar at this point, so I had to make the decision to either buy her a new one, or see if she’s ready for the collar-free lifestyle.  The fact that I feel she’s ready means that I think she’s grown up enough to make some good decisions. Doesn’t mean that she will, and I’m not going to put her in a position where a wrong decision could be dangerous – but I’m going to test her out and see how grown up she is.

She’s made some good decisions, we let her ‘herd’ the sheep again and then asked her to come away from the pen with the sheep on her own. And she, eventually, made the right decision. And I’ve asked her multiple times the kennel up after her turn was over – and she does – mostly. She’s got some natural goodness in with her naughtiness, I think she’ll be a nice dog when she grows up.

What she has not been doing better with is biting the other dogs when overaroused, such as out running in a group. And as she made Haku bleed the other day, she’s officially on probation until she gets her group privileges back. Hiking is fine (er, mostly), but not when dogs are running. So that’s annoying, as it is far easier to bring everyone as a group – but, thankfully, finally Fall has arrived. Which means that I can start leaving dogs in the car again! So I can do shifts of dogs at the park, and have some place to put naughty puppies if they can’t behave themselves.

Basically with this sort of issue it needs to be an all or nothing rule – no biting dogs, ever, or the fun ends. And that’s a pain for a while, but as long as I’m consistent, hopefully it won’t be TOO long. We shall see.

Training-wise, maybe because she’s not been getting as much physical exercise (for multiple reasons), training has been a bust this week. She’s also busy teething, and I think that can affect things as well. We have started circling a cone, which she can offer, but she’s not really focused on – she’ll just run off to grab toys or harass the other dogs, and that’s fine. I do hope at some point we actually get to train some fun stuff though, I LIKE training dogs. They are ready when they’re ready though, and she IS related to Dove and Navarre, who were most definitely slow to get into training. Can’t rush it though, just hope that she’ll be ready to do something before she has to go home! We shall see.

I am working on cone circling because Navarre has gone back to remedial agility. We are taking an ‘Advanced Agility Exercise’ class with Polona, and step number one is the basic standard circling foundation. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go back and reward the basics, once again. Funny enough, I just started at the very beginning, free-shaping a cone wrap (admittedly on a very small cone!) and Navarre had NO clue. So we really DID get to restart the whole behavior. And, for now, I even renamed it. I’ve never liked ‘check’, so we are doing ‘dig’ this time.

It’s helpful to see even when looking at this as a whole new behavior, he just can’t bend well. So looking at his honest efforts to circle a small cone, he just isn’t tight. And I looked back at when we originally trained cone and standard circling – and he has NEVER been tight, even when he was younger. He just doesn’t bend that way. It’s amazing to then ask Bright to do it – OMG, she’s ridiculously bendy. And Bright can ACCELERATE through the behavior, for Navarre to go ‘tight’ he has to go to a walk. I had already figured that was the case, but I now have solid proof.

So a fun experiment, now that we’re standing up and it looks more like ‘agility’ he doesn’t have any question what we’re doing anymore, and his commitment is solid – but even on the bigger wing, not tight and not fast. We also looked at a fun exercise from Justine’s latest puppy class, playing ‘tag’ around a barrier – wow, he just can’t turn to catch me around the edges, WOOoosh, so wide, even when he’s TRYING (which, admittedly, sometimes he’s really not!). All good information to have.

Poor dogs, things have been really busy and they really haven’t gotten much action at all. I had wanted to go to the beach this week, but too many things I still need to get ready to start classes next week. We will get there sometime soon, I should stop leaving everything for when I’m ‘on vacation’, apparently. Dogs have had some conditioning and some limited jumping to get ready for the USDAA trial this weekend, but I didn’t enter them in much. Just one day, Bright just has two runs at 16, Navarre has 3 runs at 20 inches, which is pretty easy for an almost 22 inch dog. We are also entered in a half day seminar with some instructor I’ve never heard of, because why the heck not. So, yeah, agility – we’re back! I love agility ❤

And then Heidi got new sheep at Poodletopia! So no more dealing with the old crotchety ladies. Heidi took them to auction this week, kind of sad, they had a lot of personality, we got to know them well. And ‘my’ sheep was the biggest bitch of them all. Grand old lady, I hope that other than being annoyed by dogs occasionally she had a good long happy sheep life. We now have three LITTLE dogbroke babydoll sheep. Much less likely to take us out, and, at least at this point, they actually MOVE. Haku and I don’t know what to make of that – but we can finally work on some driving.

It was kind of funny, my border collie breeder was visiting over the weekend and Dove showed her what NICE things she could do on sheep. And maybe just to prove a point, Navarre was TERRIBLE. Even more than normal, he was high as a kite and not listening whatsoever. At this point I’m pretty used to it. I will look into sending him to Dave this winter and see if he could get Navarre to a functional place to actually do some novice herding stuff. But, if not, that’s okay too – I’m totally okay with Navarre not having any real feel for herding, it’s just his enthusiasm for the activity that keeps me bringing him to play … as long as I’m there anyway with Haku. Love my Navarre, he doesn’t need to turn tight or be a good herding dog, he’s just perfect the way he is.

Oh, I did bring Fig back up to Joan’s pool and she got to do a little more swimming. We made some progress, but she’s still not quite up to jumping in on her own. She likes the water though, and no problem swimming and loves to retrieve the bumpers. I may look into taking her to the indoor pool in Hillsboro this summer, as I do think she’s just one or two exposures away from really feeling comfortable with swimming. We shall see.

So, yeah, I feel like life is ready to resume after being on ‘pause’ for the summer. I always kind of feel that way. And sometimes it’s nice to just ‘stop’ for a while, but we’re all ready to get back to action around here. I’m ready for fall leaves, rain, clouds and fleeces. Good times.


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