Sunday, June 15, 2008

Communications and Competition Heeling

Today new classes started for both Honor-Bug and Ike. Bug is taking Katrin's Communications class and Ike is taking a Competition Heeling class. I am SUPER excited about the C.H. class. I have no idea how to teach proper heeling step-by-step and since I think Rally might be up Ike's alley I really want to learn. Then I can teach the Bug and future dogs.

Communications was no dog today and went over how Katrin teaches eye-contact. Rather than explaining it again, I am going to search for an old post and provide a link. I am REALLY getting excited about doing this class with Bug. I have seen first hand how building your relationship with your dog in this manner can totally change the dynamics of your relationship for the better.

C.H. Katrin explained how she thinks about heeling and then we got down to work. The first thing we did was put our dog in set-up position. I kept fixing Ike's positioning and Katrin called me on it. How funny - things that you wouldn't do in one training situation (agility) you think nothing of doing in another.

Basically Katrin said I want Ike to do it right the first time, so if he doesn't do it correctly, walk in a circle and try again. We do not want to create a situation where Ike thinks being "fixed" is part of the job description.

Ike kept sticking his little butt out and it was (again) my fault because I was luring him into position and then moving my hand and the treat "up" when I finally asked him to sit. So, if I am going to do that I need to keep my hand down to ensure his butt doesn't kick out, give him a taste of the treat, put my hand in the proper position and then treat him. In this manner he gets the "correct" visual (my left hand at my waist).

Katrin teaches heeling with her inside leg moving first and since I have no prior preference I am going to follow her lead. She had us start by moving that leg forward and treating when the foot lands. Ike definitely picked up speed as the class went along. Initially I was putting no word to the behavior. I am so hesitant to put words to things - not sure why. It is a relatively new phenomena for me. I think it is because I accidentally "ruin" words! Anyway, I use "Let's Go" on walks to mean "hurry up" and don't want to ruin another word. I am going to use the classic "heel" command as it has never left my mouth before!

Ike seemed to gain confidence in his performance with the use of the word. Maybe it clarified for him that we were indeed doing something, not nothing? Anyway....

I have many things to work on with Ike - including getting him to sit straighter and closer to me. This is fun stuff for Ike though - we practiced this evening on our walk.

He was in great spirits at the barn - so happy and up. Even after the class had progressed and he wasn't "right" all the time, I felt like he was still having a good time.

Ah, I almost forgot. Katrin commented on how far Ike was sitting from me (as in, work on getting him to sit closer - to meet the reqs) and I asked about the distance for rally. The reason I asked was because I don't think Ike will be able to do capital "O" obedience. However, the second the question left my mouth I realized that even if I do not plan on doing Obedience, I do not really want to retrain his set-up if down the road he likes it so much I decide (again) to give O a try. Basically, all training is foundation for future endeavors. Train it correctly in the beginning and you'll have less remedial work to do. This should be drilled into my head with all of the difficult re-training of agility I have done with Ike. Sometimes I really have to be hit upside the head with something to "get it."

Excellent class. I felt like I learned a lot and I am so happy that Ike seemed to have a really good time. Now to practice with the Bug....


Dawn said...

Both classes sound wonderful. I wish I could find similar classes here. I have huge heeling issues with my cardi boy, so please keep posting about your progress. Maybe I can gleen some tips.

Blue said...

I finally got to meet Ike! I didn't really get a chance to see how he was doing during class, but it sounds like he did great. That's so cool that he's enjoying it.

ann & partner said...

They were both great classes. Partner's butt was dragging all evening. He couldn't stay awake! It was nice to see Ike again. He was very friendly, and very handsome!

Jules said...

Hi Dawn, I absolutely will. Ike thinks learning obedience "stuff" is fun so I think we will be doing lots of it!

Blue, You must have been beginning to think he was imaginary!;-P I am SO happy he is having fun.

Ann, How about your butt? I was pooped!

Pacco de Mongrel said...

we are now working hard on the heeling too.

hope u can share with us what u learn from the CH class...

previously i tried 'eye contact' method. but when i'm not looking at her, she look away too. so now i change her focus point to my left hand instead. anxiously waiting to see how it works