Thursday, October 20, 2005

Heeling

Okay, so I've been slacking off. I admit it. But at least I've been feeling guilty about it.

So this afternoon I came home and took Monster Berserker Puppy out of her kennel (the only thing which still holds her, as she can escape from the other kennel and escaped today from the agility field) for a little heeling training. I selected a burlap rag for a reinforcer, as I want to work on this with a toy and I don't particularly like the idea of training with a ball (not interactive enough with me). Also, I didn't want to have to worry about good grips and bite quality, so I used a rag instead of a bite roll.

Anyway, it was a little rough at the beginning, as I had good attention and position for the short bursts of heeling (2-5 steps) but it was taking a long time to get ready to begin again after the tugging ended. I decided my rate of reinforcement was thus too low and dropped criteria -- she no longer had to be in heel position for me to start forward, just eyeballing me.

This helped immensely; I think the problem was that the hyperdriven tugging puppy brain could not immediately switch back into "sit and focus" mode after tugging. She'll have to be able to do that later, of course, but not just yet. :-) So if I started forward with just eye contact, she put herself into good heeling position, alert and intense, and then I could click and whip the rag out for tug. I got longer bits of heeling, too, after that. I probably could have gotten even more, but I'm trying not to push too hard.

I'd really like to get video of this and see it from a different angle. Darn having to work alone almost all of the time!

This is, by the way, a full body workout for both of us! I tired out the puppy, quitting before she was ready to quit, of course, and I completely exhausted myself. It used to be easier to swing her around :-) and I was out of breath when we were done!

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