Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Kikopup Project

I have long admired Emily Larlham for her excellent training advice and the multitude of free videos that she produced for her YouTube channel kikopup. A few weeks ago a friend told me she is producing a set of DVDs with Tawzer Dog and needs videos of hunting breeds recalling from prey. Ruby and Java to the rescue! Well, only Java since Ruby is not allowed to run.

I emailed Emily and it turned out there is a variety of tasks she needs filmed and has already got more than 50 offers to help from people around the world. Still, she was excited to feature a whippet and so our filming begun.

I don’t think that Java is ready for recalling from live prey yet. I’m sure she would recall from birds, but since I’m teaching her to ignore birds I don’t want to deliberately put her in a situation where she would go after them. Instead, we filmed recall from a furry toy, which is part of the training for recall from prey. Java was fantastic, she turned back to me in a heartbeat. Some day we’ll have to repeat this with a piece of dried tripe dragging on the ground. We’ll see how that goes 😉

We also filmed walking on loose leash toward a bowl full of treats. We had only one problem: Java was too good and didn’t pull much. How do you demonstrate a loose leash walking exercise if the dog doesn’t pull? She wanted those treats and was trying sooooo hard to be a good girl so she would get them.

Ruby got to demonstrate how to close a closet door with his nose. This took quite a bit of training because he was previously taught to close the door with paws and he had to “forget” that first. He was very happy to have a real job again 🙂

Yesterday I filmed both dogs doing cue discrimination. I was saying a mix of Left, Right, Sit and Down without hand signals to see how well they know their verbal cues. I expected Ruby to be 100% successful, but Java has never discriminated among so many cues before. We did Left/Right which she understands very well and Sit/Down which she gets correctly 80-90% of the time (because I find Sit/Down discrimination boring), but putting it together makes the challenge a lot harder. She was a star! It looks like Emily will use this clip on one of her DVDs. I’m so excited 🙂

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Teaching A Brilliant Recall

EDITED: Click here to go to my most recent review of Recallers

Some people say that they would never trust their whippets off leash in unfenced areas. Some do, and trust that their hounds will come back when they’re ready to go home, and indeed many people get by just fine with this plan. They also let their whippet chase prey animals because hey, what can you do, right? They were bred to hunt small, fast moving prey.

And then there are others who are committed to getting a great recall on their dogs, sighthounds or not. You probably guessed where I stand on this 🙂 Great recall was my plan from the very first day Ruby came into my life and we worked on it diligently. So by the time he was one year old he was recalling away from all sorts of distractions, right? Wrong.

It wasn’t until we joined Susan Garret’s Recallers course that Ruby got motivated enough to come under all circumstances, including while chasing birds, cats and bunnies. The amazing thing about it is that he already knew most of the 30+ games that comprise Recallers, so he didn’t really learn a lot of new things. We just had to get a little bit better at each game and together they worked like magic.

That was in 2010. In 2011 Susan repeated Recallers and gave a free pass to everyone who created a video of their experience of “Recallers 2” in 2010. I created a video which you can see in the post How I Fell In Love With Agility – Bonus Chapter. Not only did it get me into Recallers 3 for free, but the video was among 5 winners who got a ton of prizes. You can see the winning videos from 2011 and the prizes here.

Today the voting started again. This is my video:

It got among first 15 videos, 5 of which you can watch today on Susan’s blog. The rest will be posted tomorrow and the day after.

Take a look, vote for your favorites, and if you’re looking for a way to improve your dog’s recall, get into Recallers 4 when it opens. We had a lot of fun the last two times and we’re taking it again. I just get much more committed to playing the games every day if I do it as a part of a group.

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Chipping Away Explained

The Chipping Away post got quite a bit of attention on Penny’s blog. I felt that a lot of people misunderstood it and couldn’t stop thinking how to explain it better. The sculpting analogy works beautifully in my mind, but alas analogies are never perfect.

If someone gave me a block of marble and asked me to sculpt something, anything I want, I would try to create something out of nothing, imagining something and then chipping away to make it happen. But I understand Michelangelo’s quote in the opposite way: that he didn’t view sculpting as creating something out of nothing but as teasing out what was already there in his medium of creation. Like the stone itself was guiding his hand. (Though who knows what Michelangelo really meant or if he even said those words at all.)

This is the opposite of Van Gogh’s “I dream my painting and I paint my dream”.

(Or is it? Perhaps they are both saying the same? In both cases the source of art is not in consciousness of the artist, but in subconscious – seeing it in a dream or in marble.)

When I got Ruby I started out in a similar way I would start with a block of marble: getting an image of what I wanted and trying to make him conform to it. Sure, I was learning a lot from him, but I missed some important lessons because I was trying to mold him to the image I held in my mind.

Then quite by accident I stumbled upon a great way of playing with him. By great I mean the way that made him as happy as when he was playing with other dogs. We could finally do something really fun together! It would be like “discovering” a part of the statue in the marble for the first time. I marveled at the beauty of it and wanted to see the rest of the statue. So I continued working through layers of the stone, looking for other parts of the statue. In the end I got a result that was way more beautiful than the original image I held in my mind.

I hope I didn’t confuse you even more with this one 🙂

Actually you can forget all of the above as I can condense all of my training philosophy in one sentence:

Learn how to make your dog really really really happy.

The rest is easy.

More Java photos by wonderful Stisnprtisn!

 Chasing pine cones

Chasing pine cones

Happy face :)

Happy face 🙂

Omnomnom stick!

Omnomnom stick!



Modeling her winter coat

Modeling her winter coat

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Fun, Fun, Fun

Last weekend we escaped the snow in Ljubljana and headed for the coast. We had gorgeous weather and captured some of our fun on video. I wanted to throw some frisbees for Java, but was afraid that if I threw rollers they would roll too far out and into the sea, so I threw regular throws thinking Java isn’t going to try to catch them anyway. I was wrong! She was definitely trying to catch them. So I threw a few low ones (so she wouldn’t have to jump) and my magical girly caught every single one 🙂

I don’t intend to practice frisbee catching with her until she is over one year old, but it was really interesting to see how good she is at such a young age.

I also added some clips from her tunnel runs a month ago and this is what I got:

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