Friday, June 26, 2015

Review of Fenzi Dog Sports Academy OB300-Heeling Games

I audited this class at the Bronze level.  I had used Denise's heeling series to start Taco's heeling so this was a continuation of that BUT like it says in the prerequisite section, this class is helpful even if you didn't start your dog using her Precision Heeling skills.

This class has a wealth of information that all work to make heeling FUN and interactive.  The class is broken down into different types of games and each dog might benefit from one or more types and not others.  An example:  My dog Dot loves to jump so a high hand touch for her is both motivating/energizing and allows her to let off  some stress that she builds up during heeling.  I use a hand touch to reward her for a great about turn, and also bring her back into position when she tends to drift a little wide.  It is a correction of position that she doesn't view as a correction, it is fun and enjoyable for her.  But (at this time), I am not able to use a high hand touch to reposition Taco.  A hand touch stimulates him too much and more often than not knocks him OUT of position.  Instead, leg weaves bring him in close to my leg and get a fantastic head position.  I leg weave (through my right and then left leg straight into heel position) before taking off to bring him in close and get his energy level up and his attention and eyes on me.  These games not only break up the heeling in order to keep the dog's attention, each type of game also reinforces and builds attitude, attention and excitement.

A lot of the class reminded me of Denie's posts on "obility" which is what she calls "obedience where you keep the action moving as fast as possible by blending exercises together and removing as many fronts and finishes as possible."  I was also reminded of a session Dot and I had with Bridget Carlson about heeling and how to apply her "3 reps before you reward" principle to our heeling.  She uses a handful of tricks (games) but her spin on it is that you have the dog do it three times before rewarding.  That way in the ring you can have the dog do one after an exercise, then again and it knows the reward is coming ONLY after the 3rd rep so it keeps working harder and harder, waiting for the chance to do that 3rd trick and earn its reward.  Having her tell me when to hand touch, spin or weave was extremely helpful, but I won't say Dot has gotten the hang of the 3 reps thing (mostly because I am not a stickler about it).  The important thing we took away from that session was that heeling does NOT have to be straight lines and halts, there are so many fun things you can add into it!  And that is what this Fenzi class is all about, with a lot more variation and options than just tricks in heel position, there are also sends, circles, toys and more for you to try out.

To get a taste for the class, watch the promo video and check out her blog posts on heeling games: Heeling Games, Heeling Games-"Fly", Heeling Games-Horizontal Movement, Obility.

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