Kory and my version of “choose to heel”

Years ago, when faced with the choice of pop-n-jerk heeling training and finding another way, I was given a very detailed article on Dawn Jecs “choose to heel” training methodology.

Over the last 13 years I’ve made several attempts to find a way to actually get to train with Dawn but none have panned out. Dawn lives in the great northwest, travels exclusively by RV, and limits herself to areas west of the Rockies.

I live in Ohio and have run training centers for 10 years, so my opportunities to leave for 7-10 days for a training camp have been non-existant.

I’m an uneducated believer in Dawn’s method, with just a rudamentary understanding of her training philosophy. However, with this limited information, I’ve taught countless students and my own dogs some pretty sharp heeling, without becoming leash dependent.

Leash dependence is created when the handler is convinced that the dog is with her only because of the leash, and the dog is convinced she only has to obey when the leash is on. It’s a very common fallacy, and one I rant about every time I see a dog “popped” for inattention.

If we focus on showing the dog what we approve of and pay for (walking in heel position with full, heads-up, attention) and refuse to acknowledge any other behavior the dog will nearly always choose the behavior that gets the attention and reward.

I’ve translated this method into a 2-minute dog training brochure for sport foundation heeling and — much to my surprise — Bud’s teaching Kory to heel as part of his puppy training!

I believe Bud’s decision to teach heeling came from Kory’s natural behavior to swerve left and right, to circle behind, and to generally get under-foot while walking on leash. Bud’s goal is to have a dog that walks at his left side without tangling the leash, without tripping Bud, and without yanking and pulling.

So you can imagine my surprise when, yesterday, Bud announced that he thinks he’ll show Kory in obedience. I laughed out loud as I pictured Bud at an obedience trial. Mr. Irreverant in the temple of the reserved and repressed.

However, if we ever get C-Wags trials going here, he’ll have ample opportunity to demonstrate his skills with both traditional and rally obedience behaviors. That’s a little more our style, probably.

In other news …. Bonnie Cippolone from Cincinnati has agreed to be our C-Wags trial coordinator and has given me a list of things she can provide for our trials. Now if I can figure out all the things that are NOT on her list, and get volunteers to help do those things, we’ll be cookin’ with gas. It may end up being Bonnie, Bud, Tracy Waite, our exhibitors, and me …

In other news …. I received e-mail yesterday from Erica Behnke that Diane Carr, who is attending a training retreat here this week with her friends, had been elected Queen City Dog Training Club’s 2009 AKC sportsmanship award at their Tuesday night meeting.  I created a little certificate so that Bud and I, as well as all her friends attending the retreat, could express our congratulations. That was fun!

In other news …. Tuesday’s temps reached into the 90s, everyone was hot and tired, and then the huge storm (aka “the wrath of God”) rolled through. Wednesday’s temps only reached into the 60s and quickly dropped into the 50s by dinner time. We went from air conditioning to “how do we turn on the heat in the cottage?” in 24 hours. Weird weather for June.

I was pleased to see that the storm did no damage to my plants though the sun shade on the back porch took a beating and had to be replaced.  I left it hanging down when I drove to my meeting and the wind and hail beat the crap out of it. Bud and I hung a new shade yesterday. Probably needed done anyway as the old shade was brittle and falling apart from 12 months of sun, wind, rain, snow, ice, more sun, more wind, etc.

This training retreat ends Friday at 1:00, they’re hanging out until 3 or 4:00, Bud’s leaving for a day of USDAA trialing in Columbus about that same time, Bud returns Saturday evening and has a private lesson with Katie and Dave (who are staying overnight for the Sunday workshop), then noon-to-4:00 workshops on Sunday, and a new bunch of campers arrive for a 4-day public camp Monday through Thursday.

We’re in the midst of our busy season and, much to my surprise, are staying fairly focused and positive. We sometimes lose perspective when faced with consecutive camp weeks, so this is a good thing.

In other news …. I started heeling training with tiny Hazard a few days ago. She prefers to run circles around me, barking madly for the string cheese, but will pick up on this quickly I’m sure. We discussed the possibility of attending the Sheltie Nationals together next year — Bud showing Hazard in agility, my showing Hazard in obedience and rally. I’m assuming they offer obedience and rally at the Sheltie Nationals.

The Sheltie people offer a whole day of agility at their nationals which, considering that Shelties are the premier mini-to-midi dog in agility competition, seems underwhelming. I don’t know of any breed besides Border Collies with better representation in agility.

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One Response to “Kory and my version of “choose to heel””

  1. sligo Says:

    You left out Golden Retrievers. 🙂 There are two days of agility at a Golden Natiional. http://www.cogrc.org/national/Agility.htm

    So if you ever go big, go Golden.

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