Who’d’a Thunk It?

So last week we started an Attention At Heel class with Ginger at Fortunate Fido.  We had class again yesterday and Inara just did great!  We only had to go into the bathroom 2 or 3 times, and once was our normal beginning of class sequestering.  That’s the lowest number of sequesterings yet!  And it’s even more impressive because there was a lot of movement in class yesterday and several times we got within probably 15′ of the other dogs while we were all moving.  Inara barely even noticed!  She’s getting so focused while heeling.  We can even do it without treats in my hand, at least for short distances.  That’s quite a feat, at least for us!

Yesterday we worked a lot on turns – left, right, u-turn, about turn and Schutzhund turn (AKA left about turn).  Inara and I got to show the class how to do the Schutzhund turn.  It wasn’t as pretty as she normally does it, but it’s hard to do on leash.  It gave my classmates the basic gist of what to do, though.  We also worked on finding the pace that works best for our dogs.  Ginger says that normally people need to walk a bit faster than normal, but Inara and I have to do a steadier, more even pace.  We try hard to slow down most everything about Inara.  😉

It’s actually kind of amazing me how much fun I’m having learning how to heel and turn.  Heeling always looked kind of staid and boring, but it’s really not!  It’s fun getting this connection with Inara, and seeing her have fun as well.  She looks so pretty when she heels – she’s got her eyes on me, she bounces a bit and her tail is wagging.  I think she’s actually enjoying it, too.  That, or she’s enjoying the plethora of treats she receives!  LOL

We had a great little training session this evening.  She earned most of her dinner by heeling in straight lines, doing Schutzhund turns, and just learning that the heel position is a Very Good Place to be.  We tried something new tonight since she’s having trouble learning that if she’s in front of me (not in a front, just somewhere in front of me) she needs to come back to me when I say “heel.”  If she’s already beside me she’ll stay beside me, but she doesn’t realize she needs to get beside me first!

So I lured her into a heel position, clicked, and then tossed the treat in front of me.  She ran out to get it and I did a 180 so my back was to her.  As she was heading back towards me, I said “heel” and waited for her to naturally get beside me, then clicked and tossed the treat in front of me again.  It actually worked really well!  I got a bit dizzy from constantly doing 180’s, but I was setting Inara up to succeed as she naturally wanted to come back to me for another treat, so by adding the “heel” command in I’m hoping that she will associate the act of getting into that position with the cue.

So yeah, heeling is actually fun!  Our next task tonight is to work a little bit on getting her accustomed to her new iron basket muzzle.  

I figured she should learn to wear one – it will give me more peace of mind when she can start meeting other dogs.  And, technically, she should have it on anytime we’re not in the city of Cleveland.  I won’t use it for that (I’m such a rebel!) but it’s nice knowing I’ve got it now just in case she ever needs it.  But I want to make sure she thinks it’s a Very Good Thing, so I bought some squeeze cheese because the nozzle will fit through the wires more easily than treats will.  So we’ll spend a few minutes working on that and then we’ll be done for the evening.

Happy training to everybody!