Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Working on the "HEEL"

I've been thinking about the "HEEL" lately.  It's got me confused so it's no surprise that Buster is confused.  A couple of things to set up this post.  Most importantly is the habit Buster had for his first four months.  He would be inside and we would take him outside as part of his housebreaking training.  At work, he would be inside for a couple of hours and I knew he needed a bathroom break. I would take him outside on the leash.  We would go to one of several designated spots and I would give the command "POTTY" and he would go.  I insisted he walk on the left, but I didn't give him the "HEEL" command.  We were working on housebreaking, not heeling.

Now he has much better bladder control.  After a couple of hours I'm sure he needs a comfort break, it's just not as urgent.  I've been somewhat ambivalent about giving him the "HEEL" command as we exit the building because I've been using it as a bathroom break.  I think I have to change that.  Buster needs a more clearly defined concept of the command.

Another mistake I noticed I was making was during the heel.  If Buster lagged behind, I would encourage him to catch up by saying "C'mon" instead of  reiterating the command.  If he is going to learn what the heel is supposed to be, it's only going to happen if I clearly define the command.

Today I took him out and allowed myself two words, "HEEL" and "POTTY".  I tried to use his name before "HEEL" because I remember reading that you should call his name before a command that requires movement.  If he stopped to smell, I gave the command "POTTY" a five count, if he did not go he got "Buster, HEEL" and we moved on.  I caught myself using "C'mon" a couple of times, but overall he did a much better job of keeping up.

Looking ahead, the next problem I'll need to solve is lunging forward.  If he sees someone or something ahead, he just throws himself at it.  Right now I'm giving him the "HEEL" command once again and we'll see how this works out.

Half way through the day today I loaded the Nike running app on my phone.  We recorded two miles.  Like I said that was about half.

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