The days are getting shorter, the temperature is getting colder, and the trial I've signed up for is getting closer. All three of these factors mean that it is time for me to move away from training in the field across the street from our house and on to more difficult settings. We started today at a pet store:
I was pleased to see that, on the whole, her heeling is still good. Although we both make mistakes (she goes a bit wide at times, and my handling fell apart completely), I absolutely love the amount of of attention and enthusiasm I'm getting from her. And since my entire goal for the trial is to have fun and feel connected, well... I think we'll be successful.
Now that I know she's capable of good work in a more distracting environment, I'll start pushing more and making her work harder for her cookies. We'll also work on a bit more self-control (the visiting, while awesome in terms of her reactivity, is not so awesome from a training standpoint). My goal is to get her out somewhere new two to three times a week from now until the trial, focusing on happiness, not perfection.
As a side note, the sequence from approximately 2:20 to 2:35 is my favorite. From the way she leaps onto the screen, to the way she goes to visit with the stranger, to the way she stands on her hind legs in heel position... well, she's terribly cute. I wouldn't mind NQing on cute.