Keep Austin Dog Friendly

Through Responsible Dog Ownership.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dog Training Goals for Mouse and Basil

I had my first private lesson with Judy Ramsey @ Dogwood Dog Training in Houston today. We've been going to competitive classes with Judy and Debbie, but now my schedule only permits private lessons now. Boy are we glad to be back with Dogwood.

A few things for my kiddos to work on:
Basil: needs to be taught precise heel position. Many dogs guess at where heel position is, but we're going to teach Basil exactly where it is. When in a sit position, her neck should be lined up to my left pant seam. The exercises to do this follow:

1. With Basil in sitting position, say "sit", I step right and say "close", and Basil should follow ending up in perfect heel position.
2. With Basil in sitting position, I will say "heel" and move my left foot forward and to the right. My foot should land to the right of my right foot. Basil should move with my left foot and end of in heel position next to my left foot. The purpose of this exercise is to teach her to follow my foot, and not just move forward. This will teach her to heel close, instead of out wide. Heeling wide is a common small dog habit.
3. With Basil in sitting position, I will say "heel", and step forward with my left foot. She should follow my left foot. After she has mastered a single step, then we'll move onto two, three, and four steps. This is to teach her where heel position is whether or not my left foot is moving.
4. Right Pivots: With Basil in sitting position, I will say "heel", and step clockwise (to the right) with my left leg. She should move to the right with my left leg. This will teach her to hug close and tight to my left even when I am moving right. If I keep repeating this pattern, I will eventually make a hexagon shape with my foot pattern.

Additionally, I'll use rulers or pvc to keep her from heeling wide. With the rules or pvc to the left of both of us, it will encourage her to keep from going wide and sticking close to me as we move. Dogs will naturally stay further away from random things on the floor, unless they are attracted to them of course. To do the right pivots with pipe, I can place pipe in a hexagon shape and work my dog inside the hexagon. Over time, the dog will continue to stay close to me even if we are far away from the rulers or pvc. Then we can fade out the rulers or pvc. I also need to be really low key with Basil as she is easily excitable. I used to let her bounce around, but now there will be no more bouncing. No bouncing in the show ring!

Mouse: Need to build drive and motivation for heeling. From now on, we will not heel from a sitting position. We'll do 80% from standing, and 20% from a sitting position. We will also never heel "Slow". We will always heel fast and reward Mouse in the forging position. The final goal is to get him to heel at least 100 ft at a fast without lagging. Also, I will start incorporating 270 degree right turns into the heel pattern with "get-its" immediately out of the turn. Then a very short heel (15 feet) then another 270 degree right turn. Over time, I should start doing variable rewards after the turn. More jackpot rewards for Mouse.