This weekend has been a busy weekend, especially for my little Havanese, Miki. Miki and I participated in a course about heeling. On Saturday we learned about heeling (Miki basically sticking to me like glue in a predetermined fashion) in the Rally-O Ring, and Sunday about heeling in Obedience (click on 'heeling' for more info).
The course took place in my local training club. Being a keen student I got there early on both days to lay a scented track for Coby, who would get to spend a lot of time being patient and waiting this weekend. While the track ‘aged’ I went for a walk with Coby, and after that we went tracking. Coby did very well both days, he was a bit speedy but he followed the directional changes spot on (something I mentioned in my previous blog), which made me so proud of him.
The course was incredibly inspiring and we really went in depth with the heeling exercise.
The exercise was divided into ‘precision’ and ‘motivation’, and we had several different exercises to us in which to train in the two categories separately, then eventually ideas on how to bring them together .
I have always been fond of Miki’s forward heeling, but I’ve always found it tough getting Miki to understand his positioning as really, Miki needs to follow me in whatever direction I go as opposed to the other way around! In the past I have been inclined to reward the things that were almost good enough and in doing so I have therefore not made it clear to him what it is I expect in this exercise. But oh how hard it is to change one’s own habits. Now thanks to the above training and understanding, we have some tools to work with in relation to this - let me explain…
The most important aspect I took away from this course was canine motivation and that I must be more unpredictable in my rewarding of Miki, both when I reward him, how I reward him and lastly with what I reward him with. With us handlers suddenly becoming unpredictable in rewarding the dogs you could see most dogs got more lively and motivated because now they never knew when the next reward came. It's definitely something I will try to be more aware of in the future.
What really helped was that we completely took apart this exercise, breaking it down into tiny segments and training that way. Miki was thus able to train with more precision. I think it was fun to go in depth with the small details and I think it's something that can benefit Miki in the long run.
As mentioned earlier, the course was divided into precision and motivation, which worked perfectly. After concentrating so intently with the Miki's accuracy in the exercise it was cool afterwards to turn it around and work with motivation instead.
The conclusion of the weekend - super cool course where I got many things to work on, both for Miki and for Coby .
After day 1 on Saturday finished, a tired Miki travelled back in the car and Coby got to go for a good walk with some of his best canine friends, the Aussie girls, Ziz and Java. The three friends got a good long walk where they could run free and play together, it was just what Coby needed and afterwards I could take two happy and tired dogs home with me.
Sunday after the course we drove home. Miki went to bed and Coby got to train a little before he also went to bed after a long but brilliant weekend.
Greetings from Denmark!