Haku is off with Carol for another AKC herding trial this weekend. Hopefully they’ll have a lot of fun. I was really pleased with Haku in practice this week, for me, at least, he’s getting so easy to work with. He is SUCH a good boy and tries so very hard. He works best with Ian’s flighty sheep, he may not have much push, but with lighter sheep he looks really good. We didn’t do much other than practice all our basics with the hope they’ll carry over to Carol. But he was doing nice outruns, lying down, his driving looked great and he was super happy and relaxed. And then, of course, there was Navarre. Where Ian was like, “You’re a completely different handler with Haku than Navarre.” Which is so very true, but I’m not sure how to fix it.
So we started out just showing what a shitshow Navarre and I are together. And Ian’s like, ‘You need to slow him down, all his problems come from being too fast.” This is not news to me, I’m well aware of the that fact – but I got nothing other than constantly lying him down, which is not handling so much as just attempting to manage a trainwreck. So then Ian took over and Navarre was much happier and has no problem slowing down for ‘hey’ and ‘you listen!’. This doesn’t work for me. So, me and Navarre on sheep is still not working – but he was VERY happy to be back working for Ian and Dave. I think he feels they know what they’re doing.
Truly, I’m totally okay with never actually working Navarre myself. I would not have continued herding with him if I were the one working Navarre. We just make zero progress together and I think it’s a mutual frustration. Something just doesn’t seem to work with us, as I’m not like that at all with Haku. And they are two very opposite dogs, was talking about it with Dave how lot of people prefer dogs that are ‘too slow’ rather than ‘too fast’. Both Ian and Dave prefer the ‘too fast’, so they like Navarre. For someone like me, the ‘too slow’ with Haku is much, much easier. And I do think all the running around in circles around sheep with did with Navarre when he was young taught him that when he’s around sheep with ME, he does it a certain way.
Still, herding makes Navarre very happy, and it’s not easy for him by any means. He has to think and respond and there is a lot of pressure and it’s WORK. It’s an incredible mental workout for him and we will continue to do it as I do think it’s good for him. I truly don’t care if I never actually work with him or he ever competes, just enjoying watching the process and he always says he wants to continue. So we will.
As for new puppy, we will definitely give herding a try. I do assume that he’ll have interest, both parents are very keen. However, it’s not really something we even need to think about until he gets older. But I have some ideas about what I would do differently now that I know a little more. The plan is for me to work him, not farm him out like Navarre. I’m hoping he’ll be more responsive like Haku, but with a little more power and push (but not so much as he thinks I’m extraneous to the process!). Who knows though. I actually like how Dove works a lot better than Navarre. While Navarre is all about GET UP THERE on the sheep, Dove has always worked farther away, which is just way easier for me. This, of course, doesn’t really mean anything as to how Asher will work, but time will tell. I’m excited to try it though, I feel way more prepared now and maybe we can do it ‘right’ this time. Heh.
Navarre did work with Dave this week too, I forgot that Haku was going to be gone so it was just an hour of Dave and Navarre doing ‘brain work’ the whole time. Navarre was mentally wiped by the end of the hour, that is hard work for the goober. For other people he really is trying so hard, I was really happy with him this week too. The herding dogs were fun, happy and continuing to progress – it’s fun to see that. And it’s nice to have a good week too, that is not always the case.
Haku and Carol had lots of good stuff up at the herding trial over the weekend, and some unexpected issues. He just could not seem to figure out where the sheep were on the B course, even though they practiced the day before he and he had no issues. Admittedly, the B course field has lots of trees and obstacles, and he’s not used to that, but you can see that he knows where the sheep are, and then today just crossed over like that is what you’re supposed to do. So that’s puzzling, as outruns are usually one of his better things. Other than that issue, sounds like they had some nice runs with a very pushy Haku. Go figure, he’s been so good with me! They finished his Advanced title and won some championship points. So now I think they should most definitely finish his herding championship. I don’t know when the next AKC trial is though.
Oh, and I started Navarre working more on herding with toys, which herding people just hate. And I get that it’s not teaching him about feeling sheep, but it’s real hard to be dealing with sheep while learning directionals at the same time, if you ask me. Navarre can now do flanks around a toy, and, not shockingly, they’re SUPER tight. However, what we were working on was a ‘wait’, stopping in a stand on his walk-ups. And interestingly enough, even with a DEAD TOY he would still just blow through my commands. So that’s actually a good thing, we can work on that. If he can’t even do it with a dead toy there is no way in hell he’s going to do it on sheep. So we’ll keep working on it. Our homework is working on getting his ‘wait’ and going from ‘walk up’ (which for Navarre is REALLY FAST) to a ‘steady’ (slow walk) back to a ‘walk up’. So he can start having a ‘slow down’ button. Just need to make sure I never ask for a steady from a stop, only when he’s in motion.
I didn’t do any agility with the dogs this week, but Navarre ran at 24 with Robert (the Super Runner) in class and, OMG, he looked amazing! I really actually like him at 24 watching from the outside. A lot of dogs struggle with that height, but Navarre is just such a fluid jumper – love seeing that. I really hope that Asher is a nice jumper, fingers crossed. Haven’t entered any agility trials, I think I’m just too picky these days. For some reason one of the clubs up in Ridgefield changed their trials to one judge – which means SUPER long days for trials that size, so scratched that one off the list. It’s okay for the small trials in Eugene, but not up in Ridgefield. Another trial has that same judge that I had to ask her to fix terrible contact approaches THREE TIMES at the last trial she was at, and I’m done with that. I am still contemplating an outdoor trial near me, as I’ll have the puppy then and it will be good to get him out and about. USDAA Regionals up at Argus this weekend, I really miss when it was local, too far for me. Oh well, we get plenty of agility just throughout the week, I suppose.
Obedience-wise with Navarre we’ve just been playing with lots of waits and downs out of motion in informal setting with a toy. He’s doing a lot better, so it’s working. Still not what I want for the drop on recall, but it’s certainly acceptable. Because it’s the same damn issue we have in herding though, I want to fix it so that down means RIGHT NOW, not several steps. Still need to refresh the broad jump and proof the retrieve over the high jump, but continue to feel like we can at least squeak through, even if we’re not perfect. I’m probably spending way too much time looking at position changes from a distance when we don’t really need to do much variety since we’re entered in Open A, but hey, it’s fun.
And Asher continues to grow. And GROW. Good lord those puppies are beefcakes! But so sweet and people focused and TROUBLE. I babysat this week and wanted to try to teach the puppies to wave. So I got my cheese and chicken all chopped up, got my clicker and then attempted to get only ONE puppy while leaving the rest outside with Dove. OMG, they are SO FAST and determined! I spent most of my time trying to fake them out and beat them to the door and not crush any little heads. Fat little troublemakers.
Still, they all did REALLY well, on Thursday they were still only 5 weeks old and they all caught on pretty quick and were offering waves. A couple puppies, Eagle and Kestril were the stars, they were actually offering it without any prompting. Falcon, Asher and Kite (aka Flavia) were less excited about the food, so not as quick on the uptake. But they were all focused and trying and they all figured it out. I did two short sessions with each puppy, was really fun. Waving is a really easy behavior with heathen puppies, need to think of what I want to teach them next week. Target stick maybe? With Bright’s puppies, they were super uninterested in food, though they were a bit better maybe the last week before they left. These puppies seem very advanced for their age and didn’t seem ‘infantile’ in their learning, but were very engaged.
The puppies were also RUNNING out in the yard, I had my dogs out with them and they had no issues with that. Falcon tried to hump my dogs – ha! Great little tuggers, so I have to watch my hair. Just solid pups so far, no issues, they are all really nice dogs – not a bad one in the bunch. Really excited that three (including Asher) are staying local, will be so much fun to watch them grow up together. Dove continues to be a Super Mom, and my dogs continue to be completely uninterested in them. Fingers crossed Asher just slides into my household like he’s always been there.
Took the pups to Home Depot over the weekend, I imagine we won’t be doing much of this as they get older – they were wild and wanting to fling themselves from the cart. But certainly not worried at all, they took the car ride and cart ride through the store in stride. I never worry about them and meeting new people, they love everyone at this point. Navarre was more interested in them today, I think they’re getting to be real dogs. We introduced a wading pool today, but no big takers for that. Asher is going to learn to swim, one way or another. Next week I think we’ll be taking them to a pool, so we’ll see how that goes.
Been thinking a lot about puppy stuff, I should have this down to an art by now, but they’re all so different. And I’m doing two puppy classes this summer, which is always fascinating to see how the different personalities and breeds progress as they grow up. I think I walk the middle ground between the ‘feral puppy’ plan and the ‘your puppy never has a moment unstructured’ idea. I think not training a puppy you miss such a crucial learning stage in their life, but people get way too uptight about it too, and doing it ‘right’. As long as the dog is having a good time, explore, learn, play – it’s all good. I really love puppies. Two weeks and counting until we become a four dog household again!