I set out, about a year or so ago, to really work on Tessa's heeling to try to make it fluent, pretty, enthusiastic.
I failed. I tried many things. I took Precision Heeling, IPO Heeling, and FCI Heeling through the Fenzi Academy!! Tessa enjoyed the classes, but her end result heeling didn't end up changing all that much. She has a mean pivot into heel and side, but when we are moving forward, she still lags, and is often tentative.
I was pretty much on the point of giving up on it . . . and, as happens so very often, something unexpected happened!!
This session I decided to sign Bandit up (at bronze) for Rally Skillbuilding 1. I had no intention of doing any Rally with him at all, except maybe as a retirement sport years and years from now! But I saw the class, and decided I wanted to do it.
There was some nostalgia involved in the decision. Speedy and I got started with Rally. We got into dog sport competition with Rally. Those memories of Speedy and I training and competing in Rally, as well as our early years in Freestyle, were our "heyday" in a sense. I think I felt like maybe I could recapture some of what Speedy and I had if I did Rally with Bandit . . .
Wrong reason but right decision.
Just from what little I have done with Bandit for the Rally class, I am amazed to see that he absolutely LOVES it! I'm not sure why. We have worked, almost entirely, on sits, downs, stands, and starting heeling. But he clearly adores the work. And his enthusiasm for it makes me love it!
And now it's not about Speedy or nostalgia or recapturing our glory days at all. It's about doing something that Bandit seems to have a very strong affinity for!
So, while Bandit and I are having a party, I noticed an exercise that I thought might do Tessa some good!
There is a preliminary heeling exercises where you have the dog sit in heel, talk in an excited voice and feed treats, and then toss a cookie forward.
I saw that and thought, "hmmmmmmmmmmm"!!!
Tessa and I tried it.
All I can say is . . . WOW!!
First of all, she thoroughly enjoyed the exercise. She liked it when I had her in the sit in heel or side, and was talking to her in an excited tone of voice! And she liked springing forward to get the treat that I had thrown ahead.
We completed that part and then the next step, and before I knew what was happening, Tessa was driving up into heel and was heeling with enthusiasm!
I don't know that it will be enough to carry over into our Freestyle competition in a week and a half, but long term . . . I think there might be some real possibilities for us!
Here is a video of Bandit doing some of the class exercises.
And here is Miss Tessa! Look at her go!