Monday, August 5, 2013

Wodin - Monday, August 5, 2013

Steve and Imelda sent us an update on the progress of Wodin who recently turned one year in April!
                                                              Wodin and Imelda

                                                        Wodin and Steve
Wodin finished his six session intro agility course. He was not as successful as we would have liked as he is still very reactive to movement and found the noise of the bigger dogs going thru the tunnel and running with exuberance more than he could handle so he had to stay with the 'little' dogs!  Bernadette suggested he stay in a halty for this and he really detests it so he did not respond as well as I had hoped to the actually tasks. 
Anyhow he made it through and showed improvement....the only one to hop on the platform and do a down with one direction so that was a plus.
Otherwise he still continues to be the joy of our lives and has certainly given us a lot of "growth opportunities" ! He still chases birds and as the vultures are constantly soaring overhead he is keeping fit if nothing else. 
Each evening he enjoys his swim too  but he is not too fond of going on the boat so he and I have avoided the fishing trips. 

Actually we have been very hot and windy and the sea has been quite bumpy. We set an all time record for one month with no rain this July.

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Wodin is still a young puppy but is making excellent progress. Males are not emotionally mature until they are over two years of age. Wodin will continue to mature and be more responsive as time goes on. 

Be sure to use lots of treat while training your dogs, especially if you train in agility. While staying in line waiting for your turn on the equipment, practice: sits, downs, stands, stays, come, "here", etc. Always rewarding with treats. Keep your dog focused on you. Ignore the other dogs and people. You should be more interesting than they are - ALWAYS. The use of treats and toys and praise are ways to make that happen.

My dogs all react to the larger birds of prey as they circle overhead - while technically vultures are not prey birds, they still have that prey bird outline. Herding dogs have that watchful behavior bred into them in order to protect against sheep and lamb poaching, as well as the possible theft of young puppies, by hawks, eagles, vultures. 

Most of our dogs ignore ducks, geese, and small perching birds. They seem to instinctively know the difference. Rather than fight against that DNA programmed protective behavior, I reward my dogs with praise and treats. That stops the reaction - the barking. They are letting us know there is a threat. Acknowledge that; reward that; then focus their attention on something else.

Back in the "old days" Icelandic Sheepdogs were often out in the wilds with flocks of sheep and sustenance was spotty. Herding dogs often complement their diets with small prey animals they can catch. Our Icelandics love to chase and catch chipmunks, squirrels, small rodents, and even birds. Today they seem surprised when they actually catch them but in the past I'm sure they were an important part of the diet out in the wilds of Iceland.

Kata was good at catching birds; her behavior was cat-like. Like me, she's more sedentary now.

We have an agility board called a "wobble board". It's a three or four foot square plywood board with a ball-sized compartment in the middle of the bottom. A ball is inserted in that square compartment and the board balances on that ball. The dog is encouraged to walk on this unsteady board. The ball keeps the board shaky. They idea is to get them used to an obstacle that moves. Dogs should be rewarded even if they only put one foot on the board to begin with. Encourage them to put more and more of their bodies on the wobble board. Always reward even if the behavior isn't perfect. It will get better and you want to encourage them. Soon the shaky surface will no longer bother them. 

The wobble board is one way to prepare for a teeter totter, which is also unsteady and intimidating for some dogs. Wodin's reaction to a boat may be a response to an unsteady surface. He certainly does not seem intimidated by the water!

Almost all dogs find one kind or another of agility obstacle difficult. Some have great difficulty with a tunnel, for others it's the teeter or the dog walk or the weaves. With patience and loads of treats and praise they improve and soon love all of them. 

p.s. - I did NOT miss the "growth opportunities"! Ha! We all know what that implies.

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