Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Competition Heeling #1

Sunday was our first competition heeling class. I think this class is going to be really good for Iris. Even though I don't really plan on competing in Obedience with her, it's great chance for us to practice working around dogs and people, and if I change my mind about Obedience, we'll already have a good foundation.

Iris did really well in class. I'm pretty sure all of the dogs and most of the people were new to Iris. She was really good at the very beginning while Katrin was explaining heeling. I just kept Iris busy by asking her to do simple things like sit, down, target, back up, etc. She started to lose focus when Katrin demonstrated with her Flat-Coat, Niche. Iris says, "But mom! There's a dog right there bouncing around. Don't you see him? He's right there!" Yes, thank you Iris for your assistance. I swear, I'd never notice anything without your astute Aussie power of observation. :-) My crazy dog.

So I was a bad mom and forgot to actually look though the training treats before class to see what I had left. I knew I was running low, but I forgot just how low (I've been so spacey this week! No wonder my dog is spacey too). Everything I had left was good for at home, but mediocre when compared to everything else going on in class. Luckily, Lisa had some spare cheese (Iris says string cheese is a gift from doG). Once I started using treats that Iris actually cared about, she was much better about playing with me and not acting just as spacey as I am.

In class, we practiced getting our dogs to sit when we stop and to start heeling when we start walking. Iris figured out really quickly that I wanted her to do something when I stopped, but she kept alternating between "sit" and "down." I was encouraging her for both, but only giving her a treat for sit. At least she was trying something and not just barking! For whatever reason, if Iris starts barking at another dog when she's in her crate, I'll ask her to down and she seems to quiet faster than if I had her sit. So down has been heavily rewarded. It's also the first thing I taught her, because she already knew sit, although she was inconsistent about sit.

I was having some trouble keeping Iris' attention on me when we'd start walking and even more trouble remember not to touch the leash even with it tied around my waist! At home, we're practicing without a leash. In class, I was trying to give her a treat whenever she was walking with me and not paying attention to everything else. This seems to be a theme for us that I keep forgetting - Iris checks in, Iris gets a reward. It's something I've always taken for granted with my other dogs and really need to remember to reward Iris for it. I'm sure Katrin has reminded me to reward Iris for checking in at least a dozen times, but I still need it drilled into my head. Proof that I am definitely more spacey than my dog!


Jules said...

Okay, this post made me laugh out loud a couple of times! it sounds like things went well on Sunday. I was so focused on Ike I didn't really notice anything else (which is how it should be).

I swear it takes me longer to change my ways than it does Ike's, if it is any consolation!

Katrin said...

You both did very well on Sun! Yes that is your mantra for tomorrow's class: Iris checks in, Iris gets a cookie. :-)