Monday, 23 March 2009

Zeki's first training day

Well we've had our 1-1 with Nic and also attended a training day with her at Sue's place. The 1-1 session was good fun and gave me some things to think about (overnight so's I could try to implement them the following day). The best thing about the lesson was that I managed the whole hour without using any food. Mostly we used a ball but finished with a tuggy type toy.

We worked on a little jump sequence and did some weaves. I chose not to work on contacts as Zeki is still learning those at home and I didn't want to do them without using food. If I start using food I find it difficult to switch to the toy so that was as a good a reason as any not to work on contacts.

Nic gave me some good tips regarding getting Zeki to work more for her toy (as did Bernadette after my lesson) and I took all the comments on board. It might seem like I don't at the time; like most people I come up with all the reasons why I shouldn't; couldn't; have tried; she does it at home-type excuses but the advice does go in and when I stop and analyse it later I realise I could do things differently or better. I'm always grateful to people for their ideas and suggestions which help to make me a better trainer of my dogs.

One tip was to play short and sharp and put Zeki away before she tired of her toy. The other was to make each tug game much more exciting (god it's tiring) and try not to let her tug just for the sake of tugging but use it purely as reward for some kind of behaviour, however small.

Up until Friday I have done very limited jumping with Zeki as she's only just coming up to 13 months. Mainly I had done straight lines into tunnels through wings. When I put the poles up I still really did just straight line work and had started a little bit of grid training. With Nic we worked on a four jump sequence and I was amazed at how well Zeki coped. I have taught the basics but just not really strung much together. It never ceases to amaze me how dogs learn from the basics and how easy it is to string together more complex sequences.

Nic had me sending Zeki out to #2 without going too near #1. Then I had to move across the face of #3 collecting Zeki on my right hand and then turning and pushing her over #4 off my left hand. She did it brilliantly and I was able to move across #3 whilst she was taking herself to #2.

We did some weaving which was the first time in a new place without food. Zeki also had her first introduction to the collapsible tunnel which she was fine with. A very useful session.

I was looking forward to my training day but a bit worried about Zeki barking too much and chasing other dogs. I decided on Friday evening that I was not going to use food. PERIOD. Hence my feeling worried!

The decision not to use food meant I would stay away from contacts but to be honest that doesn't really bother me because at this stage what I'm really wanting is for Zeki to concentrate in new places with different dogs and different equipment etc. I also decided to take along my little soft crate and that Zeki would sit beside me in her crate in between her turns. This proved a really good idea and I think I will do the same for any future training day, even possibly for the Naughty Niamh.

It helped in so many ways: she was keen to come out for her turn; I wasn't tempted to use her toy to keep her quiet so she remained keen for her toy as reward; I could relax and watch others work the sequences and I could listen to the trainer uninterrupted. If Zeki barked when another dog worked I simply draped my sweatshirt in front of her crate and when she was quiet she was allowed to watch. It made for a very stress free session. She was very happy with the routine and took herself into her crate each time I finished her game.

As well as the little sequences we got on film we also split into groups and worked on single jump exercises. I was worried about this as Zeki had to work with me whilst other dogs were doing their stuff. I know I can do this with food but I had only her ball. I am pleased to report she didn't leave me once. She had a good look at one dog but chose to stay with me and do her own jump. I think this was the aspect of the whole day I was most happy with!

At the end we did quite a complex jump sequence including the weaves. I could not believe that Zeki did it perfectly straight off and then again on our second go. Typically Andy wasn't there to film as he'd gone off to collect some kitchen stools we'd bought off eBay that happened to be located near Sue's place. So at the end of the session I ran the sequence again to get it on film. The version you see was our fifth attempt! As soon as the video came out I got over excited and kept making handling errors! Eventually we got a good take! So, in all Zeki did that little sequence seven times and not once did she miss the weave entry which wasn't easy. So our first training session together was a very enjoyable and productive affair. Thank you Nic for your help and advice.

Here is my little Zeki Beeks in action:


  1. Wow Nancy she's coming on so well. What fantastic weaves she does and that sequence at then end was brilliant.

  2. Hey Sis, you looking fab, from Zevvy x

  3. Ahh she's lovely!! Is she medium?? Or are those jumps massive?!?!

  4. I'm pretty sure she'll be medium so am training on medium jumps except when teaching something new when I'll drop the poles down again.

  5. she is looking fantastic Nancy, xx

  6. Blimey Nancy!! She looks fab!! You can really see how much work you have done. Gonna be a gr8 partnership I reckon! :-)

  7. Ahh I was certain she was small, she looks so diddy! Looks can be deceiving!

  8. Zeki is fantastic esepcially the weave, she is so confidence!