2-minute dog trainer, Tempest finds heel

A week ago I came to the conclusion that Tempest was NOT going to debut Sept. 25 in rally obedience.

Because Tempest’s debut was put off (for months, actually), my goals have changed.

Instead of encouraging him to dance with me, whether in agility or rally-o or obedience, I’m limiting my movement and asking him to think about what I’m saying.

He’s learning quite a few words, including (but not limited to):

1) “T” means “pay attention to me,” versus “Tempest” which is his name. “T” is a cue in itself, while “Tempest” means another cue will follow.

2) “Come” which means “drop what you’re doing and come to me.”

3) “Leave it” which means “drop the mulch,” “walk away from Kory’s dinner without stealing any of it.”

4) “Lie Down” which means freeze in a 2-on-2-off position on the contacts. This was Bud’s language with Kory and he’ll be running Tempest some of the time, so I surrendered my choice of language on this one. Upside is we get to use the same words on an agility course. Downside is Tempest doesn’t actually know that “lie down” means “lie down.”

5) “T-down” means “lie down.”

6) “Heel” is a cue meaning “move into heel” or “move to stay in heel” position. Most important — key to my rewarding the performance — is moving. It’s important that Tempest sees heeling as a sport activity, rather than as a begging or groveling position.

7) “Settle” means lie down and relax quietly, whether in a crate or in the living room.

In addition to the words he’s learned, Tempest remembers all my foundation training, including “sit” is the way you ask for things like going out through the door, coming in through the baby gate, and entering or exiting a crate or pen.

At the strangest moments I’ll find him sitting facing the back door (Mommy, please, may I go out?).  Or sitting in the dining room facing toward where I’m sitting and the other dogs surround me (Mommy, are you coming this way to feed us?). Or sitting in the training building facing the open door as the rest of us follow him in (Kory, would you please come play with me?).

Sit has become his default, his means of controlling his environment. And I love that.

Down has become his self-control posture, and his means of calming himself. I love that, too!

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