One area that discouraged me so very much was her "heeling". Head down, sniffy, laggy...you know. The usual. And I did all the wrong things. I patted my leg, I clapped, I "C'mon Perri!", I pulled the ham out. And internally, I felt total misery and certainty that my dog will never ever ever ever ever ever heel with me. I've been low about it until this afternoon. I saw a thread on Facebook on an R+ Obedience group today and the poster was basically asking for advice on handling the exact situation that I experienced with Perri last night.
The responses were varied, but most pointed to the same answer, "You must maintain your criteria while heeling your dog."
D'oh! Would I let Perri drag over a jump and drop the bar and not reset her and make her jump it clean? Would I let Perri come to front crooked and ignore it? Would I let Perri blow the Aframe contact and proceed to the next obstacle? Would I halt in a heel pattern and just ignore it if Perri didn't sit?
No. No. No! NO! I would maintain my criteria, I would lower the bar. I would use a platform to ensure a straight front, or back up if I saw her coming in crooked. I would put her over the Aframe and break down her contact behavior on the end. I would ask for a sit as as we approached our halt.
So why is it, then, that I am "happy" to continue walking and begging Perri to heel with me? Why am I not saying an "Oops!" and restarting where our attention left off? Doing the shortest possible version of the behavior so that she can be successful? Why am I allowing my dog to fail to meet the criteria on one of the most important of all exercises? Shame on me. I would not cheer lead and beg on any other behavior that was being performed incorrectly - and I need to stop doing that with heeling. If we can only make it a half a step at first, if we have to do serpentine spins the entire way to the next sign. So be it.
Just something for me to think about.
|Unrelated photo of Perri from this past Sunday!|