Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. I am up north with mum and the dogs of course :) My plans for 2014 also include more blogging!! So keep watching this space

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Mental Game

Todays post is part of

Dog Agility Blog Events

Please visit http://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/the-mental-game/ to see all the other blogs who have posted on this subject as well.

Quite alot I am getting comments from my pupils about how on earth you can remember a course of up to 21 obstacles for you and your dog to get round.

Now I know at shows in many countries you get course diagrams to be able to read and think out in your head where you are going. In Scottish shows that is not the case. I do love looking at course diagrams from other places and imagining in my head where I am going to go, what type of crosses and what position I will be in

Although when you get things on the ground it sometimes really changes what you think as you can possibly see different lines or there is more or less room than you imagined.

In Scotland we get to walk the courses once they are built, and actually last year I had the crazy moment where 3 rings opened up at almost exactly the same time, I walked 2 in a row and had to try and keep they both in my mind - then on the 3rd I didnt even get the chance to walk it, I had to try and learn it from watching others run it.

Have I got a super memory?? Very much not! In the past I have been stuck in the middle of courses trying to remember where to go (even had a couple of judges giving me a sneaky point in the right direction)
What has changed
Over time my memory has improved - thats right - agility improves your memory :) there is a benefit I never expected! And the other thing is you get to learn patterns

Have a look at some of the course diagrams posted here.
There are setups that repeat themselves straight lines to obstacles and recognisable shapes.
So instead of remembering 20 things remember a pattern
Look at the course to the left

From jump one slalom 3 jumps, up the centre to the tunnel , down 2 round the star, up 2, in the tunnel bottom, outside ark till before the weaves, loop round then jump weave jump

OK it may sound daft but that is the thoughts that are going round my head - instead of 20 obstacles to remember there are about 6 points to remember.

Yes you get more difficult courses sometimes with more things to remember, but your memory has improved by the time you get there and you recognise the patterns more

Thats not to say you will never see me in the middle of the course with a blank look on my face :D but hopefully that happens much less now.

Thankyou for reading - now get back and support all the other blogs out there

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Needle felting - quick fix - Oh no! The ears are too big

 Every had a felting disaster? Actually the great thing about needle felting is you can save just about anything
Here is my quick fix for a common issue I have
My cat is almost done but I just dont like the ears, I have pretty much reached the limit of how much smaller I can felt them and for me they are just too big.

I could take them off and make new ones, I could cut them off and remove some from the bottom - but let me share with you a quick trick I discovered to shrink them and still retain the shape
 Carefully cut a V shape into the tip of each ear so the centre is now lower than the edges
(poor thing, he looks a little odd now!)
 Pinch the edges together and CAREFULLY (dont stab your fingers) felt the edges together

Occasionally if you have felted VERY firmly you might find you need to add a tiny bit of fluffed up fleece over the top to get the edges to bond but usually with ears I dont find I need this
Repeat for the other ear and hopefully your ears are now shrunk how you like them

Of course you can always just buy yourself some ready made custom felt animals from my shop - check out my sale section for some amazing discounts!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The fuzzies are taking over the madhouse!

Last week the horrible happened. My computer hard drive died along with everything from the past 3 years.

All them images of my fuzzies! Thankfully most of my real life fotos are saved due to me sharing them on photobucket and facebook

 A very good lesson to me to back up things.

So now I am sorting through my drawers of fuzzies trying to figure out which ones I need a new photoshoot for
(not the best now we are heading for winter and the light is rubbish for photographs)

Pulling out everything I see just how many fuzzies I have made in the past 5 years!
Many have gone to loving homes all over the world but I also have quite a lot still with me

They really need a home somewhere where they can see the light of day

and I really need less clutter in my house

So I have decided to have the biggest sale I have ever had!!!

check out my sale section,
It is like the biggest ever spring clean in autumn :)

 Many of these items have been in my shop for a while and have had some amazing views, likes and been in many treasuries, this is why I have been resistant to selling them off cheep, but now is the time!! Lots of there are way less than 1/2 price

So if you have loved needle felted sculptures but been a little weary to start your collection there has never been a better time
Have a look and see, everyone tells me how much better these wee guys are in real life

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

That dont impress me much!

Oh an earworm and a ranty post all at once - its a twofer Wednesday

Take a wee look at this video
Some of you will look at that and think 'Amazing' 'What control to have so many dogs under control offlead beside a busy road'
And I suppose in some respects if you are struggling with your dog pulling you all over the place and not listening to you this can look pretty impressive.
A few questions to ask yourself there.
Whos benefit is a walk for? Would you like to be those dogs? What is being gained by them being offlead there?
Have a look at the dogs body language, see how their bodies are all curled in on themselves - this is not just the conformation of the dogs, they are keeping their heads and tails down, making themselves look small and unimportant so as to not draw attention to themselves. Notice how they are doing their best not to look at anything as they walk about, their entire focus is making sure they stick to their position.
Dogs need mental and physical exercise every day - walking like this without looking and sniffing is only physical exercise, they might as well be on a treadmill
Notice how they dont want to look at their owner at all and he dosent want to look at them either, I love walking WITH my dogs, smiling at each other, spotting what they have seen, seeing their happy faces when we take the turn to the park, watching the different shapes their waggy tails make when they sniff different smells (I can even tell by the wag if one of their friends has just gone into the park)
Could I walk my dogs offlead to the park? Yes I am sure I could - BUT - it is risking my dogs for the sake of my ego - betting their lives on my training - and all for the time it takes to stick a lead on.

If you are having a bad day and stressed that your dog is pulling a bit - look down at them - smile and be rewarded with that waggy tail - a little bit naughty for me is 100 times better than a depressed robot

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Old Mill dogs

Thought I would share with you all my lovely pupils who have been training with us at Old Mill Dogs
The agility classes and at the end the lovely puppies making a start on agility equipment (note - they only do equipment suitable to their age and breed, there are plenty of exercises you can do with a puppy before you start agility with them)
Most of these dogs have been training with us for 6 months or less and they are doing amazing :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Im ready for my close-up

I feel my photography skills have been really holding me back with my fuzzies, so I decided on a real photoshoot for them
I love the results

What do you think?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Mias first agility show

Forgot I haddnt shared this here yet
Many of you have followed Mias story, starting off with her being scared of about everything, hating all other dogs and trying to run off whenever offlead.
Well Im not saying she is 'fixed' but the other weekend she did something I never thought
She competed at a fun agility show in a public park with dogs all around her!!
First run I was even brave enough to let her off the lead

Monday, 5 August 2013

Myths about positive trainers #2 Treat training makes dogs fat


Fat is caused by consuming more energy than you burn

Its as simple as that.

So yes if you give your dogs lots of treats and dont reduce their meals or exercise them more then your dog will gain weight.

But many pet owners give their dog some kind of treat, I know lots of people who will give their dog a dentistick or boneo or something in the evening to keep them occupied. This is WAY more than my dogs get for training, I give my dogs lots of treats when training that is true - but - they are tiny treats. For example something the size of a cocktail sausage gives my dogs up to about 25 treats or I use tiny slivers of dried liver 1/2 the size of my pinky nail.

Mental exercise uses energy as well - so learning things IS exercise

Also if you train your dog to walk nicely with you or be happy in different situations then you are able to take them more places and walk them for longer walks so they are less likely to get overweight.

Myth busted - overfeeding/under exercising dogs makes them fat

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Myths about positive trainers - 1 Positive trainers just advise difficult dogs are put to sleep

I honestly dont know when this myth started. I know lots of followers of a certain TV celeb seem to strongly believe he is the last chance for many aggressive dogs because other trainers would just have the dogs put to sleep.

This is as far from the truth as is possible. But before I go into that lets look at the fact that yes, many dogs are put to sleep

In the world today we have more dogs than we have homes for and so it is a sad fact that in some rescues some people have to make the difficult decision to put dogs to sleep.
That is not a failing of the rescues - and it has nothing to do with any trainers - positive or otherwise. The blame there is firmly on the heads of the people producing too many dogs.

Yes often it will be aggressive dogs or dogs of a certain type who are put to sleep, there are two reasons for this, it is harder to find good homes for these dogs, there are plenty of homes for small fluffy puppies so it makes sense when you have to free up space to go for the dogs that are unlikely to find a home anyway. Also if a dog has bitten in the past many re-homing centres have policies of not rehoming these dogs incase they bite again, not only would the people in the centre feel responsible they also may end up being sued and that will have a cost impact on how many dogs they can help in the future.

Some trainers may refuse to work with aggressive dogs, that does not mean they are saying the dogs need to be put to sleep, just that they either do not have the experience to work with this type of dog or their insurance does not cover them for this type of work.
That is fair enough, there are specialists in every walk of life, you dont go to a pet dog trainer to teach your dog to be an obedience champ, dont expect all dog trainers to be aggression specialists.

Referring you to someone else is NOT  saying the dog needs put to sleep.

For a behavioural issue you need a behaviourist (try the APBC in the UK, these people have to be qualified to a high level with lots of experience in the field as well - remember anyone can call themselves a behaviourist but not everyone has any qualifications in the subject)
A GOOD behaviourist wont even see you till you have seen a vet to rule out any medical issues.

So do behaviourists tell people to get their dogs PTS?
Lets think about this - someone whos job is to help dogs with behavioural issues telling people to put the dogs to sleep - do you think these people would actually be in a job long if they killed off all their clients?
When talking about options they may well mention it as an option - IF the owners dont feel they are willing or able to do the work required to help their dog. Even using punishment methods to 'fix' a dog takes time, the TV celeb often takes 'difficult' cases away with him to work with them over weeks or even months.

Issues like seen on TV shows are bread and butter to good positive behaviourists, you dont see thousands of films of them helping because it is actually very dull to watch, no man v beast fight, the dogs are kept calm and taught how to not only act calm but to BE calm around the thing that they used to be aggressive about.

If you still doubt positive trainers help aggressive dogs then have a look at all the literature that is out there to help people with problem dogs - I will link a few below

Control Unleashed
Click to calm
Feisty Fido
Calming signals
Scaredy dog
Stress in dogs 

Thousands of  positive dog owners quietly rescue and help difficult dogs all over the world, just get chatting to people ringside at an agility show or have a look at the many forums and facebook pages for positive training and you will see what an amazing supportive community there is for people helping others with difficult dogs


Friday, 5 July 2013

What is positive training to you - PDBAD

Check out the link above for other posts in this day

So for the first post in the positive dog bloggers action day I thought we should talk about what positive actually means to us
There is a whole lot of confusion about what 'positive training' actually is

For me personally it does not mean I only use positive reinforcements in my training (see the post on quadrants below) Yes I try and focus on them, but I dont need to get involved in arguments about if witholding a click is punishment or not

For me positive training is more about a state of mind. Traditional training sets up a dog to do the wrong thing and punishes them for that.
In my mind that is very negative, it is negative in that you are always seeing the bad in your dog, it is negative for your dog as working with you becomes stressful, always waiting to see if they have done wrong, and it actually has a negative effect on your dogs mental development, they actually use their brains less because doing things is punished

In positive training you are looking for your dog doing the right thing and finding ways to teach him to do things that you want. If you look for the positive you see exactly how often your dogs are actually good. For the past couple of hours my dogs have been napping and quietly pottering around the house.
At one point they barked at a noise outside for about 30s
I could focus on that negative and think how bad it is my dogs were barking - but really in 120 min my dogs did something I didnt like for 30s of that. Thats pretty good odds

And here is the extra good thing - positive dosent mean that I let them away with things I dont like. If a behaviour is something that I dont like rather than punishing them for it I can see it as a training exercise, I could desensitise my dogs to noise outside the house, I could teach them something else to do to alert me to noises outside, or, I could manage the situation and have the radio on so they are less bothered by noises outside - or of course if I liked being warned of people outside I could leave the behaviour and just ignore it or even reward it.

At no point do I actually have to punish my dogs for a natural behaviour that I may not like.

So to me a positive trainer is one who
Looks for the good in their dog and rewards that to make it more likely to happen and who trains the dogs alternative behaviours when they do something they dont like.
They train focusing on positive reinforcement, minimise negative punishment and avoid positive punishment and negative reinforcement.

Please remember and support the other posts on todays PDBAD

Thursday, 27 June 2013

PDBAD - What is positive training to you?

5th of July 2013 is the first Positive Dog Bloggers Action day. Please try and post on or around the 5th July to be guaranteed to be included, If you are later I will include your link when I get to it.

Your post it to be on 'What is positive training to you?' (or force free, reward based or whatever you call your training :) )

Include this line to this page on your blog and comment underneath with your link to your post and if it is approved then your link will appear below here from the 5th July

Please visit as many of the blogs here, comment on them and support the positive community

BenMcfuzzylugs : What is positive training to you?

Positive dog bloggers action day

As you will have seen before I have joined the agility blog action day, a few of us were looking for ways to popularise positive training methods as there are way too much punishment based information out there.
So we have decided to create the positive dog bloggers action day.
This is for anyone to join who uses force free modern scientific methods based mainly on positive reward based training.
No choke chains, e collars, prong collars or setting the dog up to fail and punishing them for it.

If you fit the criteria take a look for one of the upcoming action days and write a post for that - or write a post on one of the old topics with a link to the topic page and a comment with the link to your blog and if approved your link will be added.

Also try and visit the other blogs on here and comment and share their work

Friday 5th July - What is positive training to you?

Friday, 7 June 2013

A mini staffie

I have been neglecting sharing my new small range of fuzzylugs as I have been so busy making and shipping these to the Beauly Gallery where they are selling like hot cakes :)

But I had to share this wee man

I dont usually make clothes for my fuzzies but I just had to with Ben. This is the outfit he wore for his owners wedding, a lovely well behaved addition to their day. Sadly not long ago Ben passed away and when his owners asked for a fuzzy I was very honored and tried to do him justice

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dog Agility Blog Day - Improving agility organisations

Its that time again!! My 2nd DABD
Please look HERE to see the other fantastic blogs posting on this theme

Improving agility organisations

Im in Scotland so really the only agility organisation I can compete with is the Kennel Club

Like all good positive trainers here I would like to look at the positives of this organisation first

They let me run with Ben :)  Some organisations you can only compete with pedigree breeds, I am so glad that in the UK we can run our scruffy mutts. (Cue gratuitous shot of me wee man jumping)

I also want to mention the great work people do running a show, I could never be a judge standing in the ring all day!! And the rest of the team giving up their time to be grumped at by the people queuing
I dont actually go to shows very often at all but the last one I was also very surprised at the great number of classes for my medium dog - and not only that they were graded classes (graded means you are only competing against dogs at the same level as you - combined you can be competing against top level dogs!)
and there were also a very generous amount of rosettes (often medium and small dogs only get an award for 1st place)
(Cue another gratuitous shot of Ben with his loot from the weekend)

5 places in 8 runs :) on some amazingly tricky courses!

As for the things that could be improved
Now dont get me wrong, I am not against change
But it seems after sitting on its fingers forever there seems to be quite alot of changes coming in all at once

The weaves changed to larger spacings - which I am loving to be honest, think its a great idea

and now the contact equipment is changing. Since year dot it has been wooden contacts with a sanded finish for grip, now suddenly we can have wooden contacts and rubberised coating or aluminium contacts with the rubberised coating, and the rubber can be in a skin or granules

It dosent sound a huge problem - and at the moment it isnt - but the problem is what these changes are doing to the little clubs. Many clubs havent even been able to afford to change to the new weave spacing yet and with the new contacts costing much more than the old wooden ones and reports of them not even lasting the winter many clubs just cant make the change (or just wont - we just got ourselves a whole set of equipment and rubber.aluminium contacts was not on the cards due to the price)
(cue shot of our fabby new agility training ground and equipment)

Now show schedules have to tell us what type of contacts there will be at the show. So far Ben has run on rubber contacts with no problem - but I did notice the difference when we came to move an A-frame later in the day - they weigh a tonne!! We havent met aluminium contacts yet but I am hearing people say for larger dogs they do flex a bit more which is putting some dogs off.
I am not against change, but consider the small clubs before implementing more changes - please!!

Now please go and check out the other blogs and support the work everyone is doing

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Dog training 101 - The quadrants

In the last post I discussed Reinforcements and Punishments, today we are going to learn
the four quadrants of operant conditioning.

For this we need to define positive and negative

Positive - something is ADDED
Negative - something is REMOVED

So this leads us to the four quadrants

Positive reinforcement - Something is ADDED to makes the dogs behaviour MORE likely to happen
Positive punishment - Something is ADDED to make the dogs behaviour LESS likely to happen
Negative reinforcement - something is REMOVED to make the dogs behaviour MORE likely to happen
Negative punishment - Something is REMOVED to make the dogs behaviour LESS likely to happen

So what does that really mean?

Positive reinforcement
If the dog does something we like we give them something they like - for example when the dog sits nicely we give them a treat and that makes them more likely to want to do that again.

Positive punishment
For example when a dog moves out of the heel position a jerk on a prong collar makes them less likely to want to move out of heel position again

Negative reinforcement
When a dog starts to recal back to you you the e-collar stops zapping the dog so he is more likely to want to recal to you

Negative punishment
When a dog jumps all over you for attention when you come into the house so you ignore them while they are bouncing - he is less likely to want to jump over you for attention in the future.

One other thing to consider
Reinforcing behaviours makes dogs not only repeat the behaviour you reinforced but it also makes them more confident to try new things and use their brains to problem solve so actually helps make your dog smarter, more confident and happier

Punishing makes a dog not only less likely to repeat the behaviour you punished but also makes them less confident to try new things, less likely to try and use their brians to solve problems and can actually make them less smart, less confident and less happy

Of course in the real world punishments happen but when your dog presents you with a training challenge it is always best to try and fix it using as much positive reinforcement  as possible, a limited use of negative punishment where needed and to try and avoid positive punishment and negative reward

Monday, 3 June 2013

Dog training 101 - reinforcements and punishments

I did something like this a little while ago but things drop off the bottom of blogger so I though I would update it.
For the next few weeks I am going to post some articles on basic dog training. The good news is dog training is actually dead easy, there is no special woo-woo to learn, no mystical energy you need and you dont have to have been raised by a pack of wolves in Mongolia to know how to train dogs.
Just a couple of really simple scientific facts to learn.

Dogs (and all other animals including us) learn by doing something and the consequences dictate whether they are more likely to do it again in the future.

If something bad happens they are less likely to do it again
If something good happens they are more likely to do it again

In dog training we call something that makes the behaviour less likely to happen in the future a PUNISHMENT

We call something that makes the behaviour more likely to happen in the future a REINFORCEMENT

Most people would consider the term 'punishment' to mean something harsh like hitting the dog, but it dosent have to be - look at the definition - it just means something that makes the dogs behaviour less likely to happen.
The dogs behaviour shows you if something is reinforcing or punishing, you may think a pat on the head is enough 'pay' for your dog to work for, it will be for some dogs, but if you are finding no increase in the behaviour you wanted then at that time for that dog in that situation the pat on the head just isnt reinforcing enough

Monday, 27 May 2013

Old Mill Dog agility homework - Left and right circles

I wont lie - I am totally rubbish at knowing my left from my right so I have never actually taught my dogs 'left' and 'right' on an agility course
But I have found this a useful trick for many reasons. Firstly it teaches you and your dog about luring and phasing out the lure (I teach this trick to a new dog just after I have started teaching them 'sit') It is good for warming up muscles and getting focus. It can be great fun for the dog so great for cheering them up when they are a bit down or unmotivated and it gets dogs comfy with turning away from you and  you crossing behind them as a starter to flicks and rear crosses

I usually start with the dog infront of me and a treat in my right hand. I lure the dogs nose clockwise and reward for the nose moving, then reward for 1 step to the right, 2 steps, 4 steps and then a little jackpot for them getting all the way around. (sometimes bigger/less flexable dogs need a bit more space so I lure and take a step back.
Once they have done a couple of full circles with a lure in my hand I then remove the treat from my hand and lure with an empty hand and reward from my other hand
Slowly over time move the lure hand higher and higher and make your circles smaller until you are just pointing in the direction you want them to go.
Add the cue word ('right') when you know they will take the full circle and say it as they are circling, I dont try saying the word before the action until they can do it with just the finger point then I would say 'right' wait a sec then point - if the dog does it before the hand signal then they get a jackpot

Remember and work on the other side (left) as well

Monday, 6 May 2013

What positive training is not

I haven't done a ranty post about training methods for a while - so here is one
All too often I am hearing people who train using punishment tools saying they have to for certain behaviours because (real examples) 'How safe would it be for me to be trying to bribe with cookies when my dog is playing in the traffic' or 'wagging chicken in-front of his face when he is attacking another dog is not going to work'

The problem with the thinking of punishment based trainers is they have to see the behaviour and then punish it
So they think positive training would be the same - see the 'bad' behaviour and then bribe the dog with food or toys in the hope they would learn to not do those things

And of course the problem is in some cases that is what they might see positive trainers doing - except at that point they are not training
For example imagine the case of positive and punishment trainers walking along a path with an untrained dog. One day there is an unexpected hole in the fence that the dog sees before the trainer and darts into the road

Of course as the dog is untrained he has no recal

A punishment trainers course of action may be to yell for the dog to come back, which of course will not work, then have to run into the traffic to try and grab the dog - and possibly even punish the dog when they reach them - which by that point the dog does not realise they are being punished for going tru the gap in the fence.
Later that trainer may walk to path beside the fence and punish the dog any time they start to move towards the hole
Or train a recall by punishing the dog while they are away from them and stopping the punishment when they choose to come back

A positive trainer may try to get the dogs attention with some food or a toy so they can grab the dog and get them to safety - THEN knowing about a problem they will work on training the dog a behaviour they do want
So most likely a whiplash recall in lots of different locations
and a nice heel command so the dog can walk nicely with them past a danger
AND clip the dog on the lead while they pass this point on the walk so the dog is kept safe and does not get to practise the unwanted behaviour.

So if you look at the above both for positive and punishment trainers the first point of the dog running into the road is not actually training - it is the trainers seeing that there is a training problem/opportunity
'bribing' with something nice is just a way to hopefully deal with the immediate danger and get the dog to safety.
Actually giving a cookie to the dog for running into the traffic would not work as training - if you did it often enough then your dog may learn to run into traffic to get a cookie.

Positive training is NOT letting a dog do the wrong thing then bribing them with food
Get the dog safe (manage the situation at hand) THEN realise you have a gap in your training and work on fixing it

Friday, 3 May 2013

Old Mill dogs Agility homework week 5 - circle an object

The text didnt come out too well on the video here!!

This week you want to teach your dog to circle and object. If they are on your right they will be circling anti-clockwise, on your left they will circle clockwise
This trick has several uses
It can help with tight turns in agility
It helps a dog feel confident moving out away from you
It helps us learn about luring (although of course you can shape this too)

Start somewhere with low distractions and pick an object that your dog can easily see and get round
Lure your dog round the object and reward with something high value
Each time reduce the amount your hands move to lure the dog and you can ask for more than one turn (you can see my dogs 'stick' after one turn because I dont often ask for more than one turn)
Once your dogs really know what you want you can begin to move away from the object and send them further and further out each time.

Once they are happy and confident that your dog knows this trick you can take it to lots of different locations. I send my dogs around trees, football posts, lamp posts - anything

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Old Mill dog agility homework week #4 between your legs

I couldnt make a video any better than this one for this exercise.
This is a fun easy trick to help you line your dog up at the start of an agility run. Sometimes dogs get a little unhappy if you pull and push them into position and a heel position or infront of you position to line the dogs up without pushing them although is better isnt easy to always see what the dog is seeing from where you leave them.
This trick is about teaching your dog to go round between your legs and then sit/down/stand (whatever you use at the start line)
It means they are looking in the exact same way as you are so you can line them up perfectly

Take your time building up to stepping away from the dog, make it a very fun and rewarding position to be in and your dog will love their start lines.

Remember to pop over to our website for dog agility training in Paisley, Renfrewshire and the surrounding areas

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Old Mill Beginners homework week 3 - front crosses on the flat

This one is way easier to see than to explain!!
You start with your dog on the left hand side focusing on you
Then you rotate anticlockwise 180 degrees keeping your dogs attention by bringing in your right hand with a treat in it. Reward when you are facing the opposite direction with your dog on the opposite side from where you started
Repeat the other way

Keep practising the flat work as well and you can add the front cross into this to change the side your dog is on

Friday, 12 April 2013

Old Mill agility, Beginner homework week 2

Stays, recall to hand and post turn

For agility you can have a sit, down or stand stay. A stand is the least secure stay, its easier for the dog to move, but anything that works for you and your dog.
Personally I dont use a 'stay' command - it isnt needed. You ask your dog into the position then teach them that they stay in that position until they are asked to do something else.
Teaching that is actually really easy - get them in position, reward, reward, reward then release them from the position. Then same again with a slight gap between rewards. (I will make a video of this when it stops raining)
Build up difficulty slowly, if your dog moves dont get angry with them (anger can actually make them insecure and want to creep towards you) you just made it too difficult - so put them back in position and start again making it nice and easy.

Once your stay is nice you can work on sometimes releasing them to you at a distance. Face away from them and call over one shoulder - have a treat or toy in that hand and hopefully they will run to that side.
Then you can add in a post turn, when they are running to your hand turn so they wrap around your body then chuck the toy/treat as the reward.

Dont forget to keep up the circle work as well :) (I dont ask for much eh? :D )
make it all FUN (for both of you) and better to do a couple of 1 min training times rather than trying 1 10 min boring training time

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Old Mill agility, Beginner homework week 1

Beginner classes started this week at Old Mill Agility. A great bunch of dogs (and owners) I think we are going to have some real speedy guys here :)
Week 1 homework is beginnings of circle/flat work
This starts out just as loose lead walking, rewarding your dog for walking nicely at either side of you and not pulling ahead. The challenge here is to try and not use the lead to pull the dog back to position or punish the dog (yuck) but to reward often enough so your dog enjoys staying in position.
Once they are doing this nicely then try it off lead (or you can start off lead if you are in a safe place) Then add walking in circles (easier outside circles (dog on the outside of the circle) ) figure 8's and then jogging and running with your dog.
I think this exercise is really important for an agility dog, it gets them used to focusing on you and where you are going, it is also great fun and you can practise at the park on walks without equipment - so its free

Although a bit cold the weather has been totally lovely for our first classes - and the brand new jumps look quite stunning

Monday, 1 April 2013

Old Mill Dogs

Last year I posted that I had had to stop teaching at the agility club I had helped set up and had been teaching at for 2 years.
I was very sad to leave and determined to do something as I had loved my teaching so much.

Well a bit of hard work and some really great friends and family and we have just started up a new project

Old Mill Dogs

This is a very exciting new project, not only will we be continuing with the agility training but my partner in crime has some exciting different skills so we are adding dog walking and other dog training - gundog training, obedience, tricks

And to top it all our brand new training ground is totaly secure

Here is my friends dog Blue, he was so excited when we put the jumps in the ground that he sat in the middle and wouldnt move

Classes are starting TOMORROW (gulp) but we will be starting several more beginners agility classes over the spring and summer so contact me or pop over to the website for details

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Dog Agility - Ketschker

One of the big things I have learnt from international handling dog agility blogs in the past year is the Ketschker
Yup thats the funny spelling one I mention in the last post
It has different names from different handlers - I think I will stick with 'Ass pass' as yelling 'ASS' to handlers running training courses just appeals way way to much (Oh I will be teaching again soon - more about that later too)
So what is this manover?
Technically it is a front cross followed by a blind cross
What?? Why?? Eh!!
Yup sounds odd - and if you follow it you will see it ends up with you on the exact same side of your dog as you started up!
What it is used for mainly (I have seen other uses) is a tight jump wrap where you would normaly have used a post turn
Here is a great video I found showing exactly what it is

I have had limited space to train my dogs lately so I came up with a simple little two jump exercise to combine two tricky handling moves all in one go. A Ass pass followed by a push to the backside of the jump
Totaly forgot to video so I will get that later but here is the start of the course

 Here is the start - keep repeating it in a loop and hopefully it should become fairly fluid. Ass pass over jump 1 and wrap over jump 2 doing a post turn.

Then all you have to do is slowly rotate jump 2 anticlockwise until you are pushing your dog over the back of jump 2

2 tricky manovers in a simple 2 jump course :) You can make it easier or more tricky by moving the jumps closer or further appart also see if you can send your dog away and over the jumps with you being less close every repitition, or try running to the next jump when your dog has commited to the first  - and remember to work on the other side as well

Friday, 8 March 2013

Dog agility Blog Events - Internationalisation

This blog has been accepted to join the Dog agility blog events blog :) Which is a worldwide group of bloggers several times a year blogging on a set topic
As I am just joined I am a little late for the first of this years topics - but it is an interesting topic so I thought I would add my ramblings to it - Internationalisation

What does Internationalisation mean?
Its a term American agility people are using for the move towards more European type courses with more tricky handling situations like pushing dogs to the backside of the jump, threadles and oddly spelt handling moves (I will cover them in a later post)

So Im Scottish - is that relevant to me?
Actually it has proved very helpful to me - let me explain the UK system

Here in the UK we have 7 grades - levels for handlers and dogs

Progression up the grades is kinda a bit complicated but in simple terms grades 1-3 are where new/inexperienced dogs and handlers start out.
Courses tend to be fairly flowing with a few changes of sides some slaloms and a few little 'traps' like an enticing tunnel. You do get some nice twisty turny courses and some lovely flowing fast courses so the rocket dogs and the more careful dogs all get a chance to shine.
Here is Ben a few years ago showing some grade 1-3 courses

Then once you get to the higher grades things suddenly, backside of jumps, threadles, bypassing jumps, it all gets quite tricky
and ontop of that Ben suddenly got a giant burst of speed when we hit the higher grades.
So in the past I could walk a course saying to myself 'front cross here, post turn here' and have plenty time to do all these moves on the course, now I was walking a course with no idea HOW to handle it and when I got there with my dog I suddenly realised that he was way out infront of me so I didnt have time for the handling I would have used in the past.
I lost my confidence and didnt really go to a show in about a year

Then I found the agility blogs from America, people struggling with the same type of courses that I was having trouble with - I really advise anyone to have a look at all the other bloggers on the group (click the links at the top) the horrible spelling handling moves, different training exercises, ontop of that I found a great club to train with with a handler in the same situation as me, and I hired some great land for training myself.
and suddenly we are having great fun and going clear again.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Needle felted fox

I love foxes, I have to stop myself making loads and loads of foxes
The other day I decided not to resist - and I am glad I didnt. This little guy has been hearted the most ever times in the first day in my shop. 8 likes - which when you consider he has only had 11 views and dosent even show up on the search pages yet - pretty amazing
find him https://www.etsy.com/listing/124946353/fox-soft-dog-plushie-sculpturehere in my shop

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Shhhhh!! Splats on sale

Guess what?? I have a weekend sale on on my Splat bookmarks!!
Nip over to my facebook fan page and grab the code to get 30% off my splats for this weekend only

While you are there hit the like button so your friends can get a chance to see my splats at the lowest ever price!!
They have been my top selling range since I launched them in 2010

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

New from Etsy, Automatic PDF download

I am quite excited, I have been invited to a new team on Etsy, the digital team, and as a member of this team it means I can get to trial their new feature
Automatic PDF downloads
This now means if someone buys one of my pdf needle felting tutorials as soon as they have paid they can automatically download their purchase instead of having to wait for me to do it manually

and it seems to be really popular - I made my first sale that way just moments after going live

Hop on over and have a look at my Splat tutorial 

Or my Kokeshi type doll tutorial
Each kit is under £3 and has over 10 pages of full colour images and step by step instructions to make your project.
They are both suitable for beginners using basic shapes and building up from there. They take up to around 3 hours to make and the equipment needed (fleece, needle, felt and optional foam pad) can be picked up online for just a few pounds

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


First time I have ever done this!!
But I have decided when my facebook page (http://facebook.com/benmcfuzzylugs) gets 1000 likes then I will start a MASSIVE shop wide sale

But thats not all
To get 1000 likes I need help - and you will be rewarded :)
For every person who shares my facebook page or blogs, tweets, retweets, pins or whatever else out there that you are on (and if you can add the words #benmcfuzzylugsgiveaway somewhere on your post it helps me find it easier) and comment here or on my facebook page that you have done it, you will be entered in my draw to get your very own custom sculpture of any animal for free - free worldwide shipping too

And STILL that is not all.
Once I have that 1000 likes I will then start sharing your work with my new adience, thats right, Im bringing back my featured Friday. So everyone who shares my facebook page somewhere, tells me about it and tells me about their work and asks to be included in a feature I will feature your work here on this blog and on my facebook page on a first come first done basis

So one little share by you means a shop sale, a chance to win your very own sculpture AND a feature on my blog

Thankyou for supporting me :)

Pyrenean Sheepdog - A-Z needle felted dogs


Related Posts with Thumbnails