Good Heeling is an Ongoing Challenge!

Thursday, March 01, 2018 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

My trainer, Merrillynn Hill commented that my heeling with Blaze has improved over the last few months. You can make progress when training in the basement. The Fronts and Recalls show progress also. I am still concerned about putting the leash back on Blaze which could result in the "zoomies". She does not like to be controlled by the leash. In class we did some heeling in small groups. There were three dogs in my group: a German Short Haired pointer, an Irish Wolfhound and Blaze. The three teams were close together with only room for an about turn between us. This exercise was done to get us used to being in close quarters with other dogs at shows. We did not have to stay in a "drill team" line up while our trainer called out the heeling pattern. It was fun. We did left and right turns, about turns, a couple of halts and a slow and fast pace.  On Sunday mornings, when my neighbor, Hilary comes over to help me work with Blaze, she and I do the heeling patterns with Blaze in the middle. I try to have Blaze concentrate on me and pay no attention to Hilary. This makes heeling fun for the three of us.

Two other handlers and their dogs began at the other side of the room doing the same thing which was an additional distraction. In a separate exercise we started to heel beginning with a half step, then heeling off with a whole step to keep the dog from lagging. It did not matter which foot we took the half step with, however, the right foot seemed better with the small dogs like Blaze. Then I took the larger step with my left foot.

Six large cones were placed on the floor and we did weaves between them, down and back. We were directed to keep tight to the cones on our right which would keep our dog close to us. This helps improve heeling and the Figure 8 exercise. A pop on the leash might be necessary when going right around the cones to prevent lagging. On the left turns "the cones do the work". I have also been instructed to give a "pop" on the leash each time the head goes down to the floor. We are going back to the long - handled spoon with a treat stuck to it. This worked with the on leash heeling. Now it is time to use it off leash. I will continue to practice a few heeling patterns on leash, then take the leash off and work for a few minutes using the spoon. When we do a halt I give a treat. If I am losing the dog's attention, I give her a tap on her back with the spoon.

In class we also practiced sits and stands for exam. This was good to do as there were some new people in class to go over Blaze. She is doing better having other people give her the exam. When she accepted the exam I would treat her. I was reminded never to look my dog in the eye during this exercise. That applies to the long sit and down also.

Our recalls have improved. We have been doing a lot of work in class (and at home) with shoots for a Front. This is to work on getting a straight Front. We call the dog, have the dog enter the shoot and sit in front of the handler. No luring with treats unless necessary. Have the dog wait while we back up behind the chute for a second front and then give a treat. This week we are to practice fronts when in the shoot, behind the shoot and finally in front of the shoot. Make sure the dog can see the chute when you are in front of it.

Lastly, Always give a treat for a set up. If your dog makes the effort to move even the slightest to get in the right position he should be rewarded.

Little Rocko has accepted wearing a collar and being on a leash. I have taken him on a couple of walks around our circle which is one third of a mile. He kept right up with me and did not get tired on his short puppy legs. He seems to want to stick by my left side. I have done a little heeling and some figure 8's with him and he seems happy to be working. I will do more with him when the weather improves. Right now he is busy just being a puppy. Time for lessons will come later on.

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