A current training challenge with Brito is generalized discomfort heeling toward things. That thing can be ring gates, walls, people, barriers, plants etc. Brito holds back and lags, or he tries to move behind me to avoid the pressure of the object. He does not want to heel close to barriers, which makes sense. Who wants to run into a wall?
How can I change his perception of walls as something to welcome rather than as something to avoid? What’s closer than close?
Here’s a video to show what I am doing. First we heel towards an object and then I ask Brito to put his feet on it. Now, instead of viewing the thing as something in his way, he surges towards it to perform a known behavior – in this case, feet up. Now he has a reason to move towards the thing, so he welcomes the trained behavior rather than avoiding the pressure.
When he begins to exhibit a positive attitude towards the approach of barriers, I will add several additional possibilities as I approach – a halt, left turn, right turn, about turn or possibly….feet up.
In this unedited video I am on his third lesson, broken into two session a few minutes apart. For the first 1:40seconds, I approach the objects and he puts his feet up. From 1:40 – 2:34, I add in the idea that he needs to stay in heel position – so if he surges ahead to put feet up, then I bring him back and we try again, with lots of support! Finally, from 2:35 to the end, I add in the possibility of a right turn at the barrier rather than a halt or feet up.
I’m really pleased with what I am seeing and I am confident that this will work for us. I just started adding in people and he did great!