Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray for (Attention During) Heeling!

Tonight we had our third week of this session of obedience class. All I can say is, "Wow." Leo was such a good boy! I even thought we might get away with not slipping into a down on our sit-stays. No such luck but he did better and every step in the right direction is good for me. Our novice class is small with just three dogs and handlers. However, most of the time it seems to be just two of us, a Toy Poodle and Leo. That suits me just fine although boy does Leo get tired. Tonight we started working with our dumbbells a bit just to check progress. We moved on from that to work on attention during heeling. Laurie, our instructor, had us working a couple of steps at a time then a release and reward, then a single step, then two steps, then a couple of steps, and so on. We then worked on recalls. Leo is still struggling to recall with enthusiasm in class plus his front needs some serious work. He totally gets front means to come to the front and to sit, but it's getting him in close that we're struggling. Need more work at home....

After working on that in a variety of ways, we worked on sit-stays in conjunction with the recalls. Sometimes we stepped out just a few feet, returned, praised our dogs for maintaining their sit-stay, then walked out again. Sometimes we worked the recall; sometimes we played a recall game. All in all, some good stuff to keep building on at home. Laurie has been absolutely fantastic on finding articles, books, and experienced people to pick up "small dog" ideas from. So appreciative!

We then worked on something that I'm going to think of as Leo's favorite game. With just two of us, Laurie stood mid-ring and each of us had half the ring to work. The dogs were off leash and we were just to walk around at a brisk, heeling pace with a treat at the ready in our left hand. The goal was to reward our dogs the second they got in heel position. Boy I can tell you that 1) Leo really gets into moving faster when "mama" might be leaving him; 2) He really picked up on the game fast; and 3) His heeling is really improving off lead as well!

We got to do that for a good little bit then worked on some 'About Turns' and 'Right Turns.' Great footwork practice and I can say I finally, finally am getting the correct plant of feet for some of these things. Not to say I won't screw them up again, but I think the about turn, in particular, finally clicked for me on how to do it while maintaining correct body posture, aligning my feet in a way so I don't trip myself, and keeping my steps sufficiently spaced so I don't out-stride Leo thus causing him to lag. Yay for an awesome, fantastic, amazing practice. One that was so successful that Leo wanted to guzzle water the moment we got in the truck, came home and pottied, had his nails trimmed, and hasn't had any pep since that time. Here here to a crashed out Pomeranian - don't think he's truly gotten worn out like that since he made our house home.


Last but not least, his very first agility pictures! These are from the fun match last Saturday. I'm so excited to see how happy he looks running! I knew he was but visual proof is even better. AND, I got his confirmation yesterday for his very first agility trial! He's entered in all 9 runs of the weekend on June 18 and 19.

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