A few years ago after having knee surgery I learned how to make obedience more fun for my Border Collie, Kaffee by using toys and high value treats. I was only able to work in my driveway with him for a number of weeks. Very soon Kaffee seemed to enjoy our obedience time together as much as he did agility -- since he got to play with his ball, play tugging games and get AWESOME treats that he never got unless he was doing obedience.
I now know that obedience can be fun for dogs... it is just up to us to find ways to capture their attention, focus and joy for working with us.
Balance discs are one way to bring FUN into training.
Silvia Trkman has come up with many ways to make dog training and obedience FUN. She has a DVD called, "Heeling is Just Another Trick." Visit her web site http://www.lolabuland.com/ to learn more about Silvia's amazing dogs and how she uses tricks to teach her dogs. Much of the information for teaching the pivot as a foundation for focused heeling is what I used for my video, "Using Balance Discs for Obedience Training".
Below is a summary that I created for our obedience students where I train.
Using Balance Discs to Teach the Pivot and Foundation for Heeling with Attention
· Teaching body awareness esp. rear end awareness that most dogs do not have.
· Obedience turns: about turn, figure 8, any pivot in heeling such as glove pivot
· Foundation of heeling with attention – dog learns that they are rewarded when they stay close to your leg and have attention on you.
STEP 1: Circle disc with hind feet
· Start with larger raised disc and sit in front of the dog
· Initially click and treat any interaction with the disc
· Progress to clicking any movement with hind feet; front feet need to be on the disc
· Use your treat to lure a head turn and progress to click>treat for head turn. Once you get the head turn away from you you will get hind feet movement. Be sure dogs front feet stay on the disc.
· Once dog has foot movement, click when head turn away from you and when dog is back near your side even though you are sitting. It is the position near you that is important for the next step
· Be sure to work both directions
STEP 2: Add yourself
· Stay with larger raised object
· Add yourself and take 1-2 steps. Reward when dog touches your leg, Don’t reward steps in-between now.
· Start your verbal cue for coming to right or left leg (side, close)
· Add different objects so dog does not associate this game with one object. This will make it easier to fade to flat object and eventually no object.
STEP 3: Lower object
· Once you are in the picture and the dog is coming into your leg in both directions you can lower the object and begin to fade the object. Dog should now be following your leg rather than the target.
This is also foundation for close attention, correct position heeling.
STEP 4: Move in all directions
· You may keep the flat target to start but begin to move laterally away and click treat dog coming to your side following you.
· Pivots in both directions without target. It is good to always begin with a target to remind the dog of the correct behavior and position you are looking for.