What do you want to improve in your dogs working skill set?

The response to this question is often something along the lines of: I want my dog to stay focused and keep working for the duration of the heelwork exercise or agility course.

 Sounds like not too much to ask?
 Let’s break it down using an obedience example

What is heel or heelwork?

1.     Loose lead

2.     Dog on left

3.     Dog close to handler

4.     Dogs front legs in line with your leg

5.     Dogs body straight (no crabbing out of the rear end)

6.     Head up preferably looking at you

All this before you start moving!

7.     The dog must hold all the above positions when you start walking.

8.     Dog must ignore all smells and distractions while maintaining position.

9.     Dog must turn with handler and maintain position.

10. Dog must sit when the handler stops, still maintaining 1-6

11. Dog must be able to perform all of the above for a set period of time.

You could break it down further but I think you get my point.

This “break it down” exercise is something I have to do for myself when I get frustrated. It is an exercise in compassion and understanding your dogs’ point of view.

There are a lot of fancy terms for asking for too much, but the bottom line is: make a “break it down” list and pick ONE thing on it to work on in that training session. IGNORE everything else that is not perfect.