5 Months old











Scoop is 5 months and one week old now. He is all legs and tail. He is 20 inches tall. YIKES! I keep wondering if I stop feeding him if he will stop growing. Doubt it:(   His size has led me to decide absolutely no more jumping on guests. A cute little 5 month old pup can get away with it, but not a bigger than usual one. I have to tell friends and students not to talk to him until all four feet are on the ground, don’t even look at him! He is extremely friendly, (pushy, engaging) and can’t quite figure out yet what all the fuss is about.

I am happy with his training progress and especially pleased he did not go totally feral last week when I had absolutely no extra time to spend with him. The AKC world team was here at my home for team practice and guests started arriving early in the week and stayed the full weekend. We had 10 guests here at the house and of course that meant lots of people in and out and much ado about nothing according to the baby border collie. Morning and night I saved time to go to the field for some training and exercise, but not nearly as much as he is used to getting. I wanted to do restrained recalls with him, not just trot him around the yard, to burn off some of his steam. That was ok for a a couple days but he started to become upset about being held while I ran away so many times, and decided he did not want to be kept from running along side of me as I left him. He wasn’t scared, he just had too much anticipation of the run and didn’t want to be passed off to Jim so I could leave him. I had not really seen a negative side to doing restrained recalls with any of my dogs before, but he certainly showed me there could be. I really felt if I pushed him to comply with being held while I left that I would make being left with someone into a really big negative instead of the fun it usually is for him. The last times I passed him off I didn’t leave, I just fed him for accepting that someone could hold him by the collar politely while I stood next to him. I will pass on these recalls for a while and hope he forgets about it, and I will be sure to reinforce him for liking others to hold onto his collar or leash while I am with him. I do not want to crossover from play to coercion with this dog, I know I will lose the game!


In a couple days I am teaching a foundation workshop for a local agility club. Scoop will have his first real demo job as I expect to use him on and off throughout the workshop to show training skills which are both finished and in progress. I am a little nervous about how he will perform. He has gotten so much better about hanging out quietly while other dogs are working, but usually that is because I am rewarding him or playing with him. I will be busyIMG_0807IMG_0814 talking and working with handlers and their dogs, as well as using my border collie Ace for some skills. I hope Scoop will mind his manners and show how good he can be. A few weeks ago I would not have considered being able to have him with a room full of working dogs and handlers, he would have been screaming if I did not give him my full attention. I will let you know how it goes.

Here’s an update on what Scoop knows and what I hope he can show everyone he knows this weekend. Tug, retrieve, leave it, sit, down, stand, break, kennel up and wait with door of crate open to be released, short duration in sit and down and in the crate, left, right, feet (put your feet on anything I point you towards) touch (nose touch a plexi target or target stick with a ball on the end) hop-up (2o2o on a  step) close and side (swing to heel on both my sides) heelwork on both my right and left, go around a chair or post and probably some other stuff I am forgetting.  All of these skills are still rewarded a lot with food and toys. They are not perfect and would probably not stand up to lots of repetitions without food and toy rewards.IMG_0801


Tonight I worked on having Scoop stay quiet in his kennel while I trained my border collie Ace. He whined loudly when the cage door was closed, but was really good when the crate door was open and he had to restrain himself and think about staying in the cage. He did come out a couple times and I silently  walked him back to the cage, then after he stayed for maybe 5 seconds I threw a reinforcement treat to him and started to play with Ace again. I lobbed cookies to Scoop periodically while I  interacted with Ace. I called Scoop out of the cage a few times and rewarded him then sent him back in again and repeated all the steps. I have not done nearly enough of this work. I think I will get Jim to reward him for me while I train Ace next time. I think that will make a big difference. I do have to remember though, he is just 5 months old! I am trying to keep my expectations realistic.

I hope you enjoy the photos of some of our balance training and water play that Marcy shot of us yesterday in my field.

I hope your weekend is as successful with your puppy training as I hope to be with mine.



6 responses

  1. Wow, he looks even bigger in the photos than he does in person!

    Great post, Nancy. Very helpful to learn the negatives and the unexpecteds as well as the things that go well. Thanks again.

  2. Nancy,
    Thank you for an awesome puppy seminar yesterday. I learned so much and couldnt wait to get home to put the skills into practice with Gemma. Scoop was a great demo dog and I know we were all inspired by seeing you working with him.
    Thanks again.

    • It was nice meeting you Toni, glad you enjoyed the seminar. Scoop was a very good boy, I was really pleased that he could do so much demoing and training all day and keep his attention and come back for more each time.

      Hope to meet you again soon,


  3. I have a 6 mth old gangly big BC pup as well – his sits are sloppy (when left to his own sits and my not fixing them) and I’m wondering if some back strengthening exercises would help? If so, what might you recommend? Would the balance work help too? (core strength)


    • Hi Trish,

      I would not consider the balance work I do with Scoop as actual strengthening exercises. I do not do enough of the balance training to believe that I am affecting his core strength, that will come later when he is full grown and I feel confident that I could try to build muscle and strength in a specific way. Right now he does a few minute session a few times a week, and it is as much to do with introducing him to things moving under his feet and him learning to oppose the motion with his own balancing skill.

      Talk to a veterinarian who is a dog conditioning or rehab expert about using the balance cushions for a young pup. You might get Sarah Johnsons video on the subject, or read some of the articles in Clean Run about using the devices. Be careful and sensible and don’t do too much. I would also have the vet/body work person go over your pup and make sure they are totally sound before you begin any kind of strengthening exercises. I like loose running, a bit of retrieving, a bit of balance work and swimming to encourage my pup to exercise himself to a healthy level of fitness without me pushing him at his young age.

      Hope this helps,


      • Sounds great Nancy thanks so much! I won’t worry too much about some of his crooked sits – I’m sure they will improve with age and fitness level (I’m not doing obedience anyways) He’s getting alot of running, swimming, play games and such right now, so sounds like we’re on the right track.

        Bravo and I are looking forward to seeing you in CO in September!


Comments are closed.