Last night we had Rally FrEe class. Dean and Tessa were both very eager to go! Dean was practically plastered to the front door when I was getting ready to let them out to wait to get into the car!
We started out with a row of signs set down the diagonal of the room - just 3 in each direction. This was to allow for more heeling in between each sign, which is something that all of us need to work with from time to time.
Tessa and Dean both did really, really well with it. Both were very focused, did nice position work, and did a good job on the signs. I am focusing on making hand cues more subtle and reinforcing in good places.
After that, we worked a bit on some Intermediate signs! We worked on a Free Choice into behind, which is something I am really going to have to focus on with both of them. We worked on simultaneous spins and twirls, which is something both of them are actually pretty good at. And we worked on backing in heel and side. This was practically new to Tessa and it is something I have started, but never finished, with Dean.
Backing in heel/side has been a challenge of mine. Speedy had issues with it. He was bothered by backing from the first time I introduced it. He did go on to learn to back away from me in front pretty nicely, although it was never his favorite. He actually mastered backing in heel to some extent, but then I accidentally stepped on his foot and that was that. He will do it when I have food visible to him, but he never really learned to do it well enough to bring it into competition.
Maddie liked to back in heel, but she needed a ton of food to convince her it was worth her while!
So, this is something that I have never trained to fluency, but have always wanted to.
I worked with Tessa to capture it. I stood with her between a wall and myself, and I took a slow step backward. At first she sat. I had her stand and I held some food low and took only have a step. When she shifted back, I clicked and gave her a treat. From there we progressed to a whole step. After a few reps she could go back two steps and did not sit anymore, and I was able to get the food out of the picture. Oddly, she did better with this in side than in heel, but by the time we were finished, she was definitely getting the idea.
Dean remembered doing this before. When I stand him between myself and a wall, he can back 3 - 4 steps. One thing - he does turn crooked on the heel side. I think that is physical and that is just the way it is going to be. Although he does turn crooked, he does move, for the most part, backwards, so it works.
One of the best things about the training session with Dean was that there were 4 other dogs on the floor working and he didn't think anything of it! He has been leary of working with other dogs on the floor before, worrying that something is going to bang or drop. He was very obviously relaxed, and having a great time.
We also made a nice intro of Free Choice into behind. Both of them backed through my legs to get into Follow position. We also did simultaneous spins to land them into follow. This is something I would really like to develop to the point where both dogs have several options.
It was a great training night and I am really looking forward to getting more into the Intermediate work with both of them. I actually love that I am doing this with both of them at the same time. Somehow it makes it more fun.