Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Training Tuesday: Heeling!

The Denise Fenzi seminar really inspired me. Before that, my training with Maisy had of stagnated. I was kind of bored, and often uncertain what to do next. Worse, I was sometimes afraid that I wasn't doing it right, and that I would therefore screw up competition behaviors. But if there is one thing that I took away from the seminar, it's that training should be fun, and Denise gave me the courage to play with my dog without worrying about perfection.

Since Maisy's version of fun includes a ball, I've been working on developing some self-control during play. That was harder than it sounds- when the ball came out, Maisy's brain fell out, too. In the past, this caused me to become frustrated and give up. But the tips I got from Denise at the seminar helped me work through it, so I was pretty excited that Maisy seemed to be understanding that the ball only got thrown when her neck/shoulders were in line with my pants seam. When I noticed that Maisy was getting into position fairly consistently and quickly, I told Denise how happy I was.

Her response was to ask for a video.

Well, while I was happy with the progress we'd made, I wanted to show Denise something a bit more impressive than what we had. So I pushed Maisy hard, raising my criteria much quicker than I ever have in the past, and taped the results:



As the video shows, the difference between the first session on Friday evening and the fourth one on Sunday morning is phenomenal!

No, neither of us is perfect. Maisy is still wide, and I stop dead a couple of times, plus I do this weird foot thing sometimes, but it doesn't really matter. We're working hard and having tons of fun in the process. So thank you, Denise. It feels so great to actually enjoy training my dog again.

13 comments:

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I love heeling!!! Maisy really looks like she is having a blast.

Crystal Thompson said...

She is! We used to have a big lagging problem- she found heeling stressful and boring. Now we've got a forging problem!!

Ninso said...

Looks great Crystal! Definitely a big difference from Friday to Sunday! Is there a reason you weren't doing any left turns? I think all I saw in the video was right turns and clockwise circles. Also, do you do much heeling on the right side? I know you've mentioned her chiropractic issues. When I had Elo evaluated by a physical therapist she said that it was extremely important to do just as much heeling on the right side as on the left for balanced muscle development. I am teaching both sides to Elo at the same time and wish I had done so with Jun. She has them down pretty well now, but it took a lot longer.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I'm going to take a stab and guess that Crystal remembered Denise saying that right turns/circles build drive where as left turns/circles often demotivates dogs. And I think that's true, unless the dog has done a ton of rear end awareness stuff and really enjoys tight left pivots.

Crystal Thompson said...

Yup, Laura got it. Well, that and I'm working to get Maisy closer, and moving away from her is more likely to encourage that than turning toward her is.
Also, yes, we do heel on both sides. I've been doing that for awhile now, for chiropractic reasons.

Joanna said...

The improvement is clear! I like how dynamic your sessions are. I'm really trying to improve on that front with Dragon. I'd been indoctrinated into the "silent clicker training" doctrine and I'm now trying to balance the sessions that need that (for better concentration) with more engaging sessions that build the bond and fun value.

Ninso said...

Ah! Makes sense!

Crystal Thompson said...

Joanna, it's been HARD, and I still find myself lapsing into silence when I shouldn't.

Ninso- I'm impressed you noticed. :)

Tegan said...

I enjoyed watching your video. I have a psycho-ball-dog too, which often is 'too much' to try to get behaviour out of with a ball. I use toys that are less high value (things like rope tugs and other items to fetch) just because I can't get any sense of her in ball-crazy mode. So I relate to some of your comments in your post!

Just a suggestion - as Maisy tends to lag and be wide, I would be situating the reward in front. That means chucking the ball in front of you each reward. Dogs naturally move towards where the rewards are - in your video, you're throwing the ball behind a lot, and also out to the side, so I would expect Maisy to naturally prefer to lag and be wide as that is where she is getting her rewards.

Crystal Thompson said...

Tegan, those are good suggestions. Maisy has been forging so much with the ball that I've been throwing it behind me for balance, but if I throw behind all the time, she'll lag, so then sometimes I throw behind. Still, your point about sideways/going wide is a VERY good one. I'll try to mix some forward throws in there, too.

These videos didn't include close as a criteria, but this week I've been focusing on that. I'm definitely going to try experimenting with reward placement. Thanks for your keen eyes catching that!!

Crystal Thompson said...

Okay, just tried rewarding only forward or back. That made a ridiculously huge difference. Unreal. We have been working on the criteria of close, but once she figured out the ball was only going forward or back, she quit scanning, started watching me more, and got closer. AWESOME SUGGESTION.

Also just realize that my last comment said but if I throw behind all the time, she'll lag, so then sometimes I throw behind. Obviously I meant "sometimes I throw forward." That makes more sense!

Tegan said...

Glad that seemed to make a difference! I think us clicker people get a bit caught up about marking behaviours and stop thinking about reward placement sometimes - I know I need to remind myself. ;)

Crystal Thompson said...

Well, the sad thing is that I was thinking about reward placement... I was just missing the obvious! I'm glad you saw it and pointed it out. I'm going to have to post more progress videos for you to critique! :)