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The pressure of “things”

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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!






About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

2 responses »

  1. What a clever thing to share, thank you very much. I have noticed a slight hesitation for my dog heeling up to an audience and/or the ring exit, so will have loads of fun working out how to generalise your ‘things’ to those situations. Awesome!

  2. Thank you Denise. My dog does have a problem with barriers and spectators behind a fence (even heeling or running parallel is scary for her). It’s more intense anxiety than Brito has.
    I will try to adapt what you’ve done, it may help a bit in our case. I wrote to you in Dec and tried the Bogeyman course (Dec) at bronze level. This gives me a way to apply the Bogeyman learning to a specific situation.


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