Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Water baby

Sonic following "puppy vs hose"...
We're drawing to the eight months of age mark and as the one year mark gets closer the prospect of starting real agility training is a very exciting thought. I can't wait to see if my screaming, overzealous puppy loves agility as much as he loves everything else in life.
Training is still progressing slowly but surely. I've begun work on proofing his stays in different locations with new distractions. I have to be a little careful when I practice them at trials as if he does decide to break then he'll be off in the blink of an eye and I don't want him running through an agility ring. Thankfully he is 99% of the time totally focused on the job at hand. I'm also very pleased that I can take him out off lead by himself and feel pretty certain that he'll come back when he's called. If we had another dog come running past chasing a ball it might be a different story, but we're working on it!
Probably our weakest area that we need to work on right now is our circle work. He's great when I'm walking or jogging, but as soon as I try to run fast he tends to go all over the place. So that exercise will take priority for the next few weeks. If he's as fast as I think he'll be, having great circle work will be very important to his training. We're also still doing the jump bump grids every one or two weeks. We generally do a progressive grid one week and a balance grid the next. I'm not going to do the other grids until he is over 12 months and jumping normal height.
I've added the puppy chute tunnel to his training list and he's really enjoying it along with the flexi tunnel. We try and work on the bang game each week as well as lots of two on two off on a perch. I've been neglecting our target work though so one thing I want to focus on over the next few weeks is building his nose touch to the target.
Sonic is a working dog to the bone. When I take all the dogs out for a run and a puddle of water is in the vicinity you can guarantee that young Sonic will give himself a soak. It's strange as none of my other dogs would dream of lying in a puddle of water (might mess up their coats...) so it's a game he's learnt all by himself. Very clever idea I think!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Built for speed?

Sonic is now just shy of the 7 month of age mark. Thankfully no more massive growth spurts have hit although he looks more and more like a racehorse each week. I've had to increase his meal sizes as he was looking a little too light for my liking a couple of weeks ago. I'm really impressed with all the pups structures from this litter. They have a lovely length of neck, not too straight in the shoulders which seems to be a common working border collie problem and they also have a really nice turn of stifle. Although Sonic is slightly bum high at the moment he is still a lovely balanced dog. It goes without saying that he is incredibly athletic and I have watched him become more and more coordinated as the months go by.

About three weeks ago I took Sonic and Riot down to Capel for a day of working sheep. Riot had quite a few goes on the sheep and slowly improved over the day. He hadn't been on sheep since last September so I wasn't surprised that he was way over the top and blowing the sheep up at every opportunity. Thanks to some great advise from some experience three sheep triallers I managed to nip a couple of his bad habits in the bud. Then Sonic had his first go on sheep and was fantastic. I had Jenny Parson come into the round yard with me both times to stay with me and give me advise as he worked. I'd prefer to avoid me wrecking him already!! I doubt I will put him on sheep again for quite a while but it was great to see how natural he was and gives me faith that I may be able to Sporting Register him a bit later on. Not that having him on the SR will make any difference to his agility career but I like the thought of having him registered as Macs SuperSonic so that he is representing Richard and Sam's dogs.

Sonic is now also less a set of testicles. Kriszty organised for him to go up to her VetWest surgery in Clarkson where one of the experienced vets performed the operation. As one of his testicles hadn't come down we were a bit concerned that it may have been right up in his abdomen. Luckily although it was up a little, Tom had no problem locating it and all up the operation took about 40 minutes. Ten days later he is completely recovered and is having his stitches out tonight. It slowed him down the night that he came home from the surgery but he was pretty much back to his normal nutty self by the next day. I must admit that I'm really glad that it's been done and I don't have to worry about it anymore.

On the training front things have been going well. He is mega keen as always and does everything with much gusto. I used him as my demo dog for my Introduction class at ACWA a couple of weeks ago. I had five students and puppies for the evening and Sonic was the picture of a focused and enthusiastic puppy and a great example for my class to see on what type of results you can get from a positively trained dog. I always get my class to sit down on the grass with their puppies and while I was sitting there with Sonic he lay in front of me totally focused on whatever I wanted him to do. It was way beyond his maturity level but then he just loves to work so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. I haven't got any particular training plans for the next month or so. I'm still focusing on proofing his sit stays, building his recalls and working on shadow handling. The decel game is also going really well and he is learning to dig in hard when I'm cuing a turn. So I shall keep building on those and maybe start working on the bang game a little more. Maybe I'll just start shaping some more stuff on bits of the puppy gear as he picks that up really quickly. I could probably even do a tunnel or something. A bit of variety never hurt anyone!!