Tag: kelpie

Time flies!

Time flies!

I can’t believe it’s bee two weeks since I visited my blog! Well, you know what they say – time flies when you’re having fun…

A little update:

November is here. 

I have a small obsession about leaves right now. The color, the shape, the texture…

My first school assignment is done. I haven’t got my feedback yet. Kind of nervous. I handled the nervous energy as I always do – turned it into something creative.

And I soon found out I needed dividers in my yellow “Happy book”. Fixed it myself!

And I got water! Running water, hot and cold! I’m in heaven…

Maybe the most important thing: my neighbor cut the grass. We now have no less than THREE big fields to train on. Niiiiice!

Oh, by the way: even if this blog has been silent, my Instagram is very much alive. I have three main accounts:

TheCreativeKelpie  if you’re all about planner stuff

KelpiePhotography if you like dog photos

and the brand new Kelpie.asa if you want to follow my life in general.

I’ve even learned to use Stories… ๐Ÿ˜€

The bucket game

The bucket game

Even though I try to make the life of my dogs as pleasant as possible, there is one area that I could improve: nail trimming. They cooperate, I can trim their nails without problems, but they really, really, really donยดt like it. They put up with it because I make them. Gently but firmly. With treats and praise, but still…they would choose not to participate if they could.

Am I happy with that? I was once. I’m not any longer. I’d like to think that I learn more and become a better dog trainer as the years go by, and now I see all around me new ways to train the dog (or any animal) to freely participate in and have control over “not so pleasant” procedures that need to be done. As the animals get a voice, the right to say “no” and to be listened to, things like nail trimming, ear cleaning, taking blood samples, vaccinations, and so on, become less stressful and the animal freely participates. It chooses to do so to get a reward. It’s in control.

Yes, I know this has been going on for a while. Sometimes my mind is sloooow on the uptake…But better late than never, right?

For those of you who have only a vague idea of what I’m talking about, here’s an explanation of what I want to train:

1. The Bucket Game

As explained by amazing Chirag Patel: https://www.animaltrainingacademy.com/podcast/training-tidbits/chirag-patel/

2. Start button behaviors

The podcast Drinking from the toilet is always worth listening to, here with two of my friends: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/hannah-branigan/drinking-from-the-toilet/e/51441310

And if you have no patience, here’s the quick version:

Bucket game (my version, not exactly as described by Chirag)

  1. Teach a trick, like “put paw on hand” (or look at a bucket of treats)
  2. Add duration.
  3. Add distractions.
  4. Add touching paw, nails, pull on nails.
  5. Add do the same with a pen.
  6. Add do the same with nail clippers.
  7. Trim one nail.
  8. And so on.

The important thing is: she is free to remove her paw at any time, and that makes me stop. She is in control. If she doesn’t put her paw on my hand at all – we don’t play. Again – she gets to say when, and she gets to say “no”. It’s up to me to do this in small steps and make it rewarding.

Start button (again, my version)

  1. I show clippers – she looks at clippers – click – she gets a treat. We get a rhythm going.
  2. I interrupt the rhythm. She does something – anything. Clippers come out – click – treat. The behavior she chooses is her start button behavior. When she does that she tells me she is ready for the clippers.
  3. We build a chain. I put a treat on the floor. She looks at me > I put out my hand. She gives her paw > I pick up the clippers. Her paw stays put > I continue. She removes her paw > I stop.
  4. We build new chains for different procedures. Lift back paws, put head on chair (ear cleaning), put top of nose in my hand (check and brush teeth). And so on.

My spread looks like this:

We’ve come a bit further than this, I’ve started to pull on her nails a bit.

The training looks a bit like this, so far:

It’s really interesting to work with! For both of us, I think. I’ll keep you updated on our progress.

Plan your dog training with a “projects”-page

Plan your dog training with a “projects”-page

For a few months now, I’ve tested my idea of a “master project page” in my work-life as well as my dog training. It works GREAT! I get the overview that I need, and it’s easy to see what needs to be done. Let me give you a walk-through:

And if you prefer to see the pages one by one, here goes.

This is the “master page”. At the moment we are working on recalls in the forest (obviously NOT the same as recalls in the fields says Midori), I planned a trick show that we had last Saturday (needs another star), I want to work on the bucket game and we did the Snoot Challenge (and we got featured!). Every project gets a page. As this is a Filofax, I can easily put in more pages if I need to, and the first page will be the “cover page” for that project.

The recalls are getting better day by day! For this page, I chose a simple layout where I just listed my criteria. It’s easier for her to work when it’s just her and me, so the last gold star is when it works with the whole pack (my other two dogs are on leashes – one of them is totally deaf and wanders off, and the other one hunts).

The trick show was a lot of fun and nothing serious at all – we represented our dog club at a big store and showed a few easy tricks to keep the crowd interested. For this page I made a “to do”-list, listed the different tricks she knows very well, and then I wanted to make an evaluation of the training after.

We’ve just started on the bucket game. She knows how to look at the treat, and I’ve started touching her. This – I hope – will end up in nail trimming on her terms and not my terms. I will also add a “start button behavior”.

And the snoot challenge is done! It looks like this:

Out and out endurance – self care continuous

Out and out endurance – self care continuous

This is week three of my self-care investment. I’m proud of myself! 

As a reward and a kick to step it up, I joined Out and out endurance dog and training class. Not dog training – dog and training. Training me while out walking my dogs. Can it get any better?


Above: My setup for three weeks to come. Rรถrelseboken is about the dog’s anatomy and movements, to make sure that they get the exercise that’s right for them.

Below: This week. And a giraffe, because…well, I like giraffes! Oh, and fruit. I actually ate a banana today. I’m still alive.

My setup for the three training sessions recommended in Out and out. It’s Tuesday today, and I’ve been out running! For real! My dogs couldn’t believe it…And the stickers I’m currently obsessed with.

And last but not least I present to you…Proof! A picture from today’s run!

To be continued…

30 days, 30 seconds, 30 distractions!

30 days, 30 seconds, 30 distractions!

Two weeks ago I started a focus challenge in my Swedish bullet journal for dog trainers-group. Or, as I prefer to call it, a staring contest. Teach your dog to keep focus in 30 seconds, with 30 different distractions, and you have 30 days to do it.

So far, we’ve had some fun with this! It’s easy. It’s simple. It doesn’t take much time. It makes me work with distractions in a creative way. 

After every session, I color a piece of the puzzle. O the right, the distractions we have tried and how many seconds she managed so far. Two distractions are really hard: Dad comes home when we train, and walking by the side of the main road. Walking up and down stairs, training inside the barn with the cats, and follow me when I back up, are also hard. Most other environments and distractions have been OK so far: dogs and people, toys and treats on the ground, stationary position or moving, she is naturally good at keeping focus.

But not as good as she will be in another two weeks!

Art exhibition, hammerhead shark, and rally obedience competition!

Art exhibition, hammerhead shark, and rally obedience competition!

I’ve done a lot this easter, but I haven’t felt busy or stressed – on the contrary, I’ve had time to try new things. Like drawing sea animals and color them with watercolor pencils. Let’s start there:


This hammer head shark is part of a series, and you can see them as I make them on my Instagram @artbytck .

Easter has been about more art than my drawings: I’vr been part of an art exhibition at my dog club. Four artists, four days! Here is some of my work:

The photos to the left are mine.

In the south of Sweden it’s a tradition to show art during easter, and it’s a lot of fun driving around and visit studios and artists. It’s been a dream of mine to show my work during easter for a long time, and finally it’s happened!

You can see all of the artwork in this movie:

And last, but not least, we have competed. The Princess and I defied the snow and the cold, and we both did really well! The first rally-competition in a long time, and it was very nice to see that some of the things we have been training really worked!

This was my goals and my training plan up to the day:

As you can see, we stuck to my plan until the very end, and it worked. Safety goal – no problems. Realistic goal – almost! I put my feet wrong in one place, and she moved just a little in the stand, but SO MUCH BETTER than it used to be! We’re on the right track ๐Ÿ™‚

My evaluation: what worked well, what do we need to train more, and what was the best things. On the opposite side the course and the critique. She did so many moments beautifully, she was happy, she was quiet!

Note to self: do not keep her dummy for retrieving in the same pocket I keep the tug-toy. Misunderstanding is easy…:D

And I’ve planned our starts for this year, and made a plan for next competition (obedience).

A bit late, but still: happy after-easter everyone!


New competition – new plans!

New competition – new plans!

Last week I was at a clicker training camp with students from five different schools, and that kind of took all my time and energy…And Monday I got some new toys for my camera that I have been playing with, but today I have made the time to think about our next competition!

This time its rally-obedience. We have competed in the highest class a few times with decent results, but it’s been over a year and I’m curious – what will float and what will sink?

The last two weeks se have done some training, mainly right-side-heeling and endurance, and it works well. Our struggles are the same as ever, keeping still. But I’m happy to discover that other things seem to really work, like understand that she has to listen to the cue for stand/sit/lie down in front, and spins in both directions both sides.

So this is the plan:

Design: metallic gel pens (gelly roll), for the first time in my Nuuna. I can’t decide if I like them or not, I think I’ll keep them for my black book only.

First page: Day by day schedule, with a smiley to the right to measure the feeling.

Left side: my goals for this competition. Dream, realistic, safety.

Let’s see how this works out!

Oh, and if you’re curious about my new camera toys, check out the blog on www.kelpiephoto.com!

Competition done!

Competition done!

Sunday, after two weeks of NO training, we still competed. I and The Princess had a blast!

The arena was inside, and the whole thing was very well arranged. I felt really welcome and taken care of! That’s important, it makes it easier to remember that no one FORCES you to compete – that is something you choose to do for fun! These days I have no trouble remembering that, but ten years ago competitions could get really serious in my head. Thank god I don’t feel that way anymore!

So…How did we do? Terrific! Attitude, fun factor, teamwork – a clear ten for ten! Now, if you want to talk actual points…not as good. The Princess kind of put her own spin on things, and combined with the sound effects there weren’t many points left ๐Ÿ˜€ 

Do I care? Not in the least! I have come to a point in my life where I truly only compete against myself. To see what works, and what doesn’t work. To – actually – have fun! I know that sounds like bullshit, I know that’s actually kind of provocative to some people, but it’s true. Of course, it’s extra fun if we get good points as well, but that’s not my reason for competing.

One of the most important things after any test or trial is to review, think about what happened, and think about what I want to do next. So here goes, exercise by exercise:

Heeling: 5. I had already decided to help her with my voice and body, so that was no surprise. She worked really nice, with a god straight back up, no levitating dog when running, and really good focus and position. 

Stand during march: 0. She moved – no surprise there. It worries me a bit that she moved ore that she usually does, it’s clear that she doesn’t know this exercise well enough.

Recall: 0. This is the only thing I’m not at all pleased with! the fact that she followed me tells me that she was insecure, and I don’ like that for her! We need to train more in new places – and with new people – to make her feel safe even if I leave her.

Lie down during march: 0. She did a beautiful lie down (jumped up in the air and landed on her belly), and then, as I took my first step back towards her, she stood up and directly lied down again. You know, the extra spice to the exercise! She was really cute and so sure of herself…I couldn’t stop smiling…

Square: 0. This was actually a surprise! We took start position, she looked straight at the square, I could see the tension in her body, and on my command, she ran to the…left…? Happily looking for…what? I have no idea! Oh well, I guess she knows, but won’t tell me ๐Ÿ˜€

Retrieve: 6. She stopped when she got to the dumbbell and looked at me like “it can’t be THIS one, can it? Really? You know, there’s SLIME on it!” I knew what to do and just stood still. sure enough, she picked it up and delivered it to me with a whine ad a chew.

Distance work: 5. She did the changes of position beautifully with nice movements. Unfortunately, she also moved a little bit (still laying down) as I left her and returned to her, and there was some sound as well.

Jump: 8. Perfect, except for sound. 

Around: 0. My mistake. She ran out to the cone, but did not go around it, and I missed that.

Sit in group: I decided not to do that, as there always is a possibility something might happen. I will only do that if we have a chance of getting the points we need to get to the next class, and we sure didn’t this time…:)

Overall impression: 7

Yes. There are lots of things we need to work on. LOTS of things! But it was really fun and good to try the new rules and the new exercises “for real”. I always say that my focus as a dog trainer should not only be “what can get better” but also “what did we do well”! The things we did well are the things we want to grow and expand. This is what we will keep doing:

  • She could find “training mode” very quickly in a new environment (that’s something we have really worked on!)
  • She is always kind and polite to other dogs at a competition (not necessarily in other places…)
  • The rewards worked really well even though there was no treats or toys involved.
  • Her focus and attitude only got better during the program.
  • She has beautiful movements and body control.
  • I made her feel on top of the world even if she started a bit insecure – she didn’t want to leave when we were done!
  • I had patience in the retrieve – good choice.
  • I helped her when I needed to – good choice.
  • She got a BIG reward and a nice walk at the end!

Lot’s of good things for both me and her, to think about and grow bigger! I’m really proud of my little Princess, and I’m a bit proud of me too ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up is a competition in Rally-o, so we will focus on some right hand heeling this week. That will be FUN!



Dreamgoal, realistic goal, safety goal…

Dreamgoal, realistic goal, safety goal…

So. Competition in four days. I am just recovering from The Flu From Hell, and my body is tired and the cold weather makes me cough. My beautiful plans to keep working endurance to get Her Majesty to shut up are still just plans. And to top it off it’s snowing like crazy right now! Snow = no training outside.

In times like this, I’m glad I have a safety goal!

Dream goal: everything works, and we do our best session ever, win our class, and are ready for class 2.

Realistic goal (at least it seemed realistic until last week): We do a solid program. Maybe not our best work, maybe a little whine here and a few steps there, but all in all we do the exercises more or less the way they are meant to be.

Safety goal (this is where we are right now): we start. That’s it. The goal is to get there, prepare for the competition, get the mood right, and start as well prepared as possible. Everything that comes after that is a bonus.

All the training we did during our obedience boot-camp is still made. We have improved every exercise, and we have had fun doing it. Nothing is wasted – there is always another competition!

So, that’s my goal for this Sunday: show up, do the best we can, give my dog a memory that will make her long for next time, and give the audience a glimpse of two individuals that enjoy training together and have fun together.

Next time I’ll be able to follow my plan, next time there won’t be any snow, and you know what? We will be even better prepared because of the work we have already done! 

Vacation and back to boot-camp

Vacation and back to boot-camp

Just home from a week at Fuerteventura, I blog about my trip on Kelpiephoto and you will see some inspired artwork here in a near future ๐Ÿ™‚

While I was away, my to bigger dogs stayed with my parents and lived a life of luxury. Midori, who requires a bit more…active “hotel”, stayed at a dog training friend of mine and her two dogs. She has had a terrific time playing with her new friends! Unfortunately, my friend got the flu and the planned boot-camp training was canceled.

That means that this week will be repetition and mini-chains with emphasis on retrieving and distance work. My setup is a big tracker, it looks like this:

On the top, each exercise has a color (today I chose my new zebra mildliners, they are beautiful!). On the left all the days starting with today, and columns for training chains, competition like, other places, and distractions.

20 days to go until competition!