Trainings, races and other events are being cancelled all around the world in order to stop COVID-19. Many are placed in quarantine, Helene Nilsen is also one of them. Together with her dog Kygo they are trying to make the best out of the situation.
The 27-year old from Norway is in quarantine for 14 days after visiting Crufts, the world`s biggest dog show. There were around 160.000 visitors from all around the world.
-We took all precautions on the trip and luckily none of us are sick, but we understand the necessity of the quarantine.
Her four-year-old Australian Shepherd, Kygo, is unaware of what is happening out in the big world. Like most dogs he is living in the moment, without letting thoughts of the past or future influence it. There us people have a lot to learn. Hopefully your dog can give you a long awaited break from the everydays.
Kygo sees only the advantages of having his owner home more than usual. It means more time for him.
-The quarantine is of course limiting what we can do and how can we move. At the same time I think that us with dogs should make the best out of this situation. If your dog is missing a bit of everyday obedience use 15-20 minutes of your day to practice what is needed!
Helene and Kygo are a versatile team whom are doing many different activities. Their favourites are tracking, rally obedience and pulling.
- In the quarantine-time I have more than enough time to fulfill his needs for training, but I have to avoid contact with other people. I am in home-quarantine and allowed to get out into the nature, but I have to avoid crowded areas.
Physical and mental stimulation
- Kygo is a dog who has a need for both physical and mental stimulation.
For me it is important to keep him active and happy, while also keeping his form so he is ready for future events. I choose to see this as golden opportunity to prepare various activities. We cycle three-four times a week. We are varying between longer distances and endurance and short recovery trips. Since Kygo needs loads of mental stimulation I am also training commands that I use underway, for example “pull”, “left/right” “easy” and “stop”
Other days are spent at farms or forests where Helene puts down a good track. Tracking/Trailing is a demanding sport where dogs are very challenged mentally. Her the dog has to use all its senses to reach the finish. Therefore the better the dog gets, the more you can focus on the little details
You can train loads at home, like pointing or picking of an object.
-Find an object of fitting size. I personally use a small tobacco box filled with treats. Place the object on the ground, and if the dog is showing interest, for example by sniffing it, reward it with a treat. The dog will understand already there, that you initiated something and will naturally try again.
Helene advices to start small if your dog hasn`t been trained for tracking before.
-Make a mini-field of 2x2 meter on the surface you wish. Walk your track, that you already put down. Make sure to leave loads of smell. Then you put many small treats in your field (12-16 pieces). Let the dog work effectively for one minute. When they work well you release them with a toy or treat.
Next level is to put out less treats. After a while these are changed out to an object.
When you are placing out the first track you start with a straight line over 20-50 meter, where you put a treat on each step (1 step = 1 feet length). That you build further by gradually increasing the distance between the treats.
- Only your creativity is the limit
Other days are used for training obedience or for a walk in a desolate area where Kygo can be loose.
In the forest there are many things one can do or use for training. The dog can balance on tree stumps, jump over or go under logs, back up on small hills or train recalling and apport from distance. Only your creativity can stop you!
Inside they like to practice tricks, strength- and coordination training on pillows and other easy mental stimulation that does not require much space.
I think it`s very fun to teach your dog tricks, and these can be thought anywhere! One of my favourites is “clean up”. Here the dog has to pick up his toys and put them in their place. Tricks are really something that result in loads of laughter and cooperation between owner and dog. It`s a simple and nice activity.