Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heeling, Nothing More Than Heeling

sing to the tune of Feelings by Morris Albert

Last night Ike and I had a half-hour private with Katrin. The two goals were to start working on putting heel on cue and if we had time our Fronts. We did not get to “Front.”

As I mentioned in a previous post Ike offers a series of behaviors and doesn’t really know what I am rewarding. This is bad training on my part. Also the fact that I really don’t “get” heeling. Katrin’s Competition Heeling class helped me immensely, but we still need LOADS of work.

Last night we decided to put the Finish/Set-Up on Heel cue as well as the first step forward. Ike was ga-ga for treats. This was pretty much the first time he has had real food in 10 days. He was trying to climb up my leg. And he discovered that Katrin has a visiting cat and tried to visit the kitty-litter-bar. But, pretty quickly he was willing to work.

I am at a point where I can begin to minimize my set-up/finish cue. Katrin feels like Ike has a decent grasp of what I want. We do need to work on him not sitting too far forward.

The actual act of heeling is going to require a lot of work. Although I have no intention of ever competing in Competitive Obedience with Ike, Katrin and I agreed that it makes sense to act/train like I do. In this way *I* will not need to be re-trained when I work with future dogs. This means I need to be stricter about my expectations and what I am willing to accept.

Part of the problem is I have a very large stride for a short person and I have small dogs! I am going to put tape down in my mud room – every 12”. In this manner I can hopefully train myself to take smaller steps (and move in a straighter line) which would make it much easier for Ike to heel with me.

Ike started to get stressed out at about 20-25 minutes. He wasn’t clear what was going on with the heeling forward – he actually started to move backwards. This is my fault as I was stressing and not verbally rewarding him as much as I could be. He was starting to think – “hey, I’m not sure this is fun. Mum is stressed and not laughing.” Initially he was doing quite well. I think it would benefit us both to continue with these privates. Ike likes the one on one time, a lot.

When we returned home Bug was ALL OVER Ike - loving him up. He misses his brother SO much when he’s not there.

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