AHBA Herding Trial

The Dove puppies are 20 weeks now, how time flies! They are still squarely in the middle of the Fugly Four month old stage, they all look ridiculous. But they ARE having fun ear adventures again, so that’s really cute. Asher is particularly funny because his ears are SO BIG, he looks like dumbo when they stand up and flop about when he runs. They mostly just come up when he’s excited, and I’m sure they’ll end up adorable airplane ears in the end, but I’ve really been enjoying his funny ear stages – I love a good ear adventure. Who would have thought he could get those big things up so far though? He looks like a totally different, and much more mature dog when they are. He’s still got a lot of teeth to go at this point, lots of teething ahead. Which reminds me, need to buy more bully sticks …

We seem to have turned a corner, suddenly Navarre is just not all that concerned about Asher any more. He’s no longer refusing to come into the house when the puppy is loose, he’s not acting out, he’s not pouting or hiding in the other room. He’ll even play some tug with the puppy, which is not his idea, but he doesn’t seem to mind. So just such a huge weight off the household, and I’m no longer worried I was going to have to send Asher back. I think the magic was just waiting for the puppy to grow up some, and while he seems MORE annoying to me now than when he was younger, the dogs seem much less offended by him. So that makes me very happy!

Asher has also gotten WAY more snuggly, which is very appreciated as well. He’s now coming and snuggling when it’s bed time and in the mornings too, he’ll come and snuggle on the couch as well.Ā  Of course, on the flip side he’s had a sudden surge into teenage ‘I don’t want to, you can’t make me’ going on too. He’s been such a good, easy puppy that I’ve taken it for granted. Suddenly we’re having to go back to basics and, yes, there are rules around here. I think this stage will probably last a while. Sigh. Still, he’s a good boy at heart, we’ll get through it.

This week we hiked with brother Ravi, and, yeah, those puppies just have it out for each other. They are BETTER than they had been, but Ravi and Asher were worse than than Flavia and Asher last week. Littermates just have weird relationships. I do assume they’ll get over it eventually, little hellions.

Not too much new in the world of training with Asher, we continue to look at heeling, just heavily reinforcing for position. I’m doing both sides, as it’s good for agility too. Then cue discrimination, which kind of depends on his mood. We finally achieved backing up to an object, and he can now do a 2o/2o with speed into position. Which I’m claiming is not actually agility training šŸ˜‰ Our next project is working his sit-up, and eventually hugging with both feet.

We never did get around to editing any video for the TWO puppy classes we’re in. I just don’t have much patience for fussing around with video, especially when I don’t really have any questions. Still, I have enjoyed both classes and we’ve worked on all the material that Asher has been ready for. Was nice to have some concrete homework and we’ve been having a great time. I just loving training puppies.

Bright, Navarre and Haku finished up their Performer Trick titles this week, Asher wasn’t ready for that one yet. So that was, mostly, fun to do this summer. I was about ready to strangle Haku, I swear he just keeps getting more difficult! So no training anything NEW for him, and getting him to actually shut up and DO the tricks is quite the feat as well. Still, at least Navarre really enjoyed learning some new tricks. There were quite a few that I took for granted that they’d be able to do. Like pulling a bag of objects, OMG, Navarre is such a wuss about this! He finally figured it out though. Let it be said, the other dogs did not have such an issue …

And guess who escaped from Ian and joined Navarre and me herding this week? Asher is a little troublemaker, but he did find it very fun and was much more interested in the sheep and moving them around. So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say he won’t hate sheep.

Then we did a little crash course in arena herding as both Haku and Navarre were entered in an AHBA herding trial locally this weekend. I was looking around for other things for Haku to do, and this just all kind of fell together to enter for just one day this weekend. Now, I had no illusions it would be pretty, but the hope is we’ll have fun and learn some new things. We went up and practiced a bit in the arena at Brigand’s and that was amusing. Navarre … was Navarre, complete with a total lack of outrun. Haku and I couldn’t pen anything. We need to practice patience and going slower. That seems to be a theme.

The trial was fun and quick, and I thought the dogs did very well considering. This is all stuff we never practice in a tiny area. I had very low expectations as even though I parked someplace they had never been before and they couldn’t see anything going on, Navarre got out of the car VIBRATING and so excited he couldn’t even pee. Not a good sign. Naturally, Navarre got to go first. People were very kind and helping me through the process, which I hadn’t done before.

We entered the advanced level as it is no help at all to me to walk with the dogs, though you can still do quite a bit of going with your dog in AHBA. And Navarre was trying, up to a point. He was actually lying down and he did do an outrun and I was trying my best to be patient and keep him moving slow and precise with LOTS of lying down and waiting. Slow and precise is a relative term, of course. But we did the little drive through the panels, which was the part I felt the most confident with because, well, that’s what we mostly practice. Penning I just don’t know how to handle yet, and Navarre was being REALLY good as I put him in a down at one end of the arena after we turned the panels and went to open the pen and the sheep came right with me … and I ended up with the sheep right at the entrance of the pen, but my dog on the other end of the arena – ha! So maybe if my dog had been closer we could have gotten them in, but not so much after. And I’m so not used to sheep that will just run you over, I didn’t feel like I could help with the penning. But, yeah, that’s something to work on. And after the pen Navarre was just too keyed up, but we did our hold and sort and put them away.

So, hey, I’m calling it a win for our first ever competition together. It may not have been pretty, but I’ve felt MUCH worse out there with him. And Navarre, of course, had the BEST TIME EVER. We can now say we have trialed once, which is not something I ever thought he’d be able to do with Navarre. Everyone has start somewhere, and I can see us doing it again in the future. With the small arena I feel much less frantic, though it still felt super unnatural to try to work in a small area.

As for Haku, this was our THIRD competition together, it’s not like we’ve done much more than Navarre! And I felt much more relaxed with Haku, of course, though same sort of issues – still couldn’t pen, even with Haku much closer. But we did the other things, more or less, though not in a very straight line. Funny enough, Haku’s score wasn’t much higher than Navarre’s, but it felt much smoother to me! Haku also had a great time, I’m really glad we went. It gives us something concrete to work on. Now, I don’t know when they may have another AHBA trial up there, but I would definitely do it again. Maybe practice some penning before then šŸ˜‰

And Asher and Bright enjoyed hanging out at the trial, but, more importantly, very much enjoyed swimming at Joan’s pool afterwards. Asher has never seen a pool before, but he just jumped right in. Less good at getting OUT, I had to rescue him multiple times as he hasn’t grasped the concept of the ramp. That boy loves his swimming and his water, and that makes me happy. As do all the dogs, they had a great time. And it’s crazy how fast Asher is growing, suddenly we’ve moved from SUPER narrow puppy to adding more substance, he definitely just looks bigger all around. Knock on wood, I was really worried when he started running around Joan’s metal agility equipment, but he does actually pay attention to where he’s going, thank god.

Dogs have very much been enjoying summer vacation and getting to do a lot more doggie activities, and we have a couple more weeks to go!