This is a dog training recap of the year for my weimaraner, Remy, and my yellow Lab puppy, Rip!
I like to write these training updates once a year so I can look back on our progress or struggles.
In the comments, please let me know what you’re working on with your own dog or something you’ve accomplished with your dog in the last year.
For each dog, I’m writing about:
- What we accomplished in 2021
- Plans for 2022
Training my weimaraner – 2021 dog training recap
Remy will turn 6 years old in February! We had a good year with tons of experiences and adventures together.
But, we also had some challenges due to the noise phobias he’s developed in agility. I feel like we took a big step backwards in agility.
Another downside is I did not run with him the kind of distances we love to do. I cut back on my mileage significantly while pregnant (baby boy coming in April 2022!!).
I’ve still been running with Remy, but it’s much lower mileage and it’s walk/run intervals. We’re both happier when we can do longer runs so I’m looking forward to getting back into long distance again this summer.
We still did a lot together in 2021. Here are five of our accomplishments:
1. We entered 6 NADAC agility trials.
We entered four local agility trials and traveled to Red Lodge, MT, for two other trials.
Remy got a “High in Trial” trophy in January, meaning we had the most points out of all the Intro-level dogs at the trial.
We also enjoyed our two road trips to Red Lodge where we competed in June and October. Remy likes traveling, and he is well-behaved and relaxed when we stay in hotels.
In 2021, we got 12 qualifying runs for 120 points and three titles (Intro Tunnelers, Intro Touch n Go & Novice Tunnelers).
Here’s one of our Intro “Touch N Go” runs: link
Unfortunately, Remy got spooked by wind against the arena walls in the spring and he’s struggled with serious noise phobias in agility ever since. This makes both practicing and competing difficult.
I’ve considered retiring him all together from agility because I never want to force a dog to do any sport.
But for now, I’m attempting to work through his fears with hot dogs, squeaky toys and lots of time just hanging out in the agility environment with little pressure. He enjoys the presence of other dogs and people. It’s just the sounds of wind and melting/falling ice on the roof that he’s concerned about.
2022 is going to have to be about taking a step back and focusing on building his confidence and having fun with no pressure.
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2. We ran our first official race together!
In June, we ran in our very first official race together! It was a dog friendly trail 10K race in Lolo Pass on the border of Montana and Idaho.
Racing together made us both, so, so happy.
It was definitely one of the highlights of my whole year and I know Remy loved it too. He was very comfortable in the busy racing atmosphere, although this was a fairly small event with maybe around 250 runners. I wish there were more dog friendly races in our area.
Even though I was trying to run at a comfortable pace, Remy helped me get 23rd place overall and 2nd place female in my age group. This would’ve never happened without him “encouraging” me to pick up my pace.
3. My dog’s first pheasant hunt!
This was another highlight of my year because I really enjoyed the time being out with my dog, my husband and my dad.
While he’s in great physical condition, Remy does not have a lot of training for hunting, so I was very proud of how he did on his first hunt, considering our limited experience.
We went to a local game farm and this helped Remy be successful because there were a lot of pheasants. He did a great job using his nose, working with us and finding several birds. He retrieved them fairly well, and I was so proud of him when he tracked down a crippled bird we never would’ve located without him.
4. We joined a canicross group.
Remy and I joined the brand new North American Canicross organization. In canicross, you run with your dog in a harness, pulling you. The leash is attached to your waist. You have to run cross-country style on a trail or gravel road, not on pavement.
We logged 34 official canicross miles towards our 50-mile lifetime miles title. We ran about 400 miles total, but only 34 were official canicross miles with the proper gear and trail terrain.
We both really like canicross, so I plan to make a point to do more of this in 2022.
5. Letting go of the things I can’t control.
An unplanned shift I experienced in 2021 was letting go of the things I’m unable or unwilling to control.
For example, I accept Remy will pull on the leash (that’s why he’s great at canicross!), so I just use a no-pull harness when I need more control. I accept he’s going to be crazy at the door when people visit, so I just put him on a leash or in my bedroom with a Kong.
Yes, these are certainly things I could spend a lot of time working on, but for me, it’s just not worth the effort.
This acceptance is actually a big relief. It allows me more energy to focus on the things I do care about like running long distance together, having fun in agility, hiking and finding remote areas for off-leash time.
Remy learned how to trot on the treadmill in 2021 and seems to enjoy it for short periods. I only have him go for about 5 minutes at a time as a mental workout on really cold days.
Plans for Remy and I in 2022:
I originally had a couple of agility goals written here, but we attended a trial in January and my dog was so desperately telling me he does not want to do agility anymore.
So, this year we are focusing on running and spending time together. If we do agility, it will be outside in the summer for fun and not for competition.
1. Run and hike on more trails with my dog.
This is to encourage me to get out more with Remy as he absolutely LOVES running on trails! I love it too, but I really struggle to make the time for it. I’m shooting for at least 20 trail runs with him in 2022.
Off leash is ideal, but leashed runs or walks are also fun for him.
Ideas I have about running with Remy this year:
Attend group runs. There is a local running club that meets every Saturday morning and often runs trails, so I’ll plan to take him to a few of those when I can. He loves the social running atmosphere.
Canicross title. We will also do more canicross running as it’s something we both enjoy. We will likely earn our “50 Lifetime Miles” title from North American Canicross this year. Since we won’t be earning any agility titles, I’m glad we can work towards canicross titles instead.
Half marathon. We will likely run a half marathon together on our own, not an official race. I plan to start training for a 12-hour ultramarathon race, and I’ll have lots of long runs to complete. Remy likes to tag along for my 10 to 13-mile long runs.
Off leash when possible. I would like to give Remy more off leash time, but I don’t trust him. He doesn’t run off, but he loves to run up to people and others dogs. So I would like to seek out more remote areas for him and to work more on his recall. Always a work in progress. He wears a Garmin GPS collar which gives me some peace of mind.
2. Take my dog hunting at a game farm again.
Remy absolutely loved hunting last year, and I want to make sure to take him out again in the fall. The game farm is the easiest way to go for us, since we are so inexperienced.
I have zero expectations when hunting with him as I don’t put a lot of time into his training. We will just have fun.
3. Sign up for an obedience class.
Yes, we’ve taken several obedience classes before but it’s been about four years!
Remy can always use the practice but the main thing is we both enjoy spending time together in this type of training setting. I really like group classes and Remy loves the social atmosphere.
There are two totally different local trainers that I like. One is strictly “all positive” and one is more “traditional” with a lot of formal heelwork and AKC-style obedience. I appreciate both for different reasons.
I plan to take Remy to the more traditional class first because once you take a class with them you can attend their weekly “pack walks.” I think we would both really enjoy these structured walks.
OK, and now for puppy Rip! …
Training my yellow Labrador – 2021 dog training recap
Rip is a great puppy and he has reinforced what I already knew – I value and support good breeders.
Seven-month-old Rip is easygoing but up for anything. He’s gentle and does not challenge Remy. He’s confident without being careless.
I think he’s going to make a great agility dog, running buddy, hunter and of course he’s already a good friend and family member.
Here are four of the big things we’ve done since I got him in July 2021:
1. He graduated from “puppy manners class” in September.
We didn’t work on any formal obedience cues in this class but it was great for socialization and playing with the other puppies. Rip was very focused during the class when we worked on manners like not jumping.
2. We took our puppy camping in September.
I’m so glad we went camping while Rip was still little. This was a great experience for him and he did so well sticking close to us off leash, sleeping in the tent and just relaxing at our campsite. He’s a great camping dog!
We also went on a 3-mile hike which was his longest hike ever at that time, and he went swimming in the creek.
See our article: Tips for camping with your dog
3. He took a 3-week bird and gun intro course.
Rip attended a 3-week board and train course with his breeder where he was exposed to a lot of birdwork and a lot of live gunfire.
At the end of the training he was retrieving live birds and was showing a lot of potential with his natural retrieve, soft mouth and eagerness to please.
I took this video of him the day we picked him up from training:
He’s absolutely not scared of guns at all, and of course he has a huge interest in finding birds. Good boy!
Socialization has been my main focus with Rip. I have spent very little time working on things like heel, come and stay. Instead, we’ve been doing a lot of socialization.
He’s gone to several trails and parks, met countless people and dogs, attended agility, gone hunting, camping, hiking, stayed in hotels, gone on road trips, spent three weeks at my parents’ house and rode in different vehicles.
He even flew from Wisconsin to Montana with me at 8 weeks old. See my article: How to fly with a puppy.
Goals for my yellow Lab Rip in 2022:
This will be a big year for the little guy!
1. 12-week intermediate gun dog training.
In late March, Rip will head back to his breeder and trainer for 12 weeks for more intense gun dog training.
He will work on retrieving to hand, marking downed game and trailing birds. They will also work on obedience and control and begin using an e-collar.
By the end of this training he will be more than ready for his first hunt. I’ll need to step up my game!
2. Go hunting this fall.
I plan to go hunting with Rip this fall. We’ll go to the local game farm with him for sure and hopefully we can do some hunting on public land. If it works out, we’ll go duck hunting with my dad, too.
Additional hunting training:
Join a local retriever club. I will do this if it works out, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to do too many things. The club meets every Sunday morning in the summer to train.
AKC hunt test. I would love to enter Rip into an AKC Junior Hunt test for retrievers. There are some regional events late July so maybe we will enter. If his breeder and trainer believes he is not ready, then I would like to still attend the event and observe.
I have never attended a hunt test, but they are a great way to give dogs hunting practice. At the Junior Hunter level, the dog must retrieve four birds – two on land and two in water at distances up to 100 yards on each retrieve.
The dog is evaluated on: marking the downed bird, style (eagerness & enthusiasm), perseverance to stick to the job and trainability.
3. Enter an Intro level agility trial.
We are signed up for a basic agility class this month. Entering a trial in the fall would be a huge step but if I practice with him a lot on my own I think we can pull off a NADAC Tunnelers or Touch N Go course at our local September trial.
I want to make sure not to rush him, though. I plan to take him to a few events just to sit and watch and learn to wait calmly in his crate.
For the September trial, I plan to just enter him in two runs and bring a toy with us into the ring to make it a fun game for him. (Toys are allowed but you get an automatic Elimination.)
And last but not least, Rip will naturally start running with me this year. We’ve been doing lots of walking so far since I’m not really running much at 7 months pregnant.
I hope to get back into running in June or July and Rip will be over a year old and more than ready!
See my post: When to start running with a puppy.
So, that’s it from us! Thanks for following along with us this year!
In the comments, let me know what you’re working on with your dog!
Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.