We seem to be in constant "training mode" anywhere we are because of Mae. I've gone back to the very basics no matter where we are in terms of "sit" and "stay" and I think it's helped Tim too.
Ha! Kodi is working on utility level, and we are in constant training mode... I have found that dogs are no different than horses. You are always training them, for good or bad, whether you mean to or not. So IMO, it's better to be a "conscious trainer"
Another thing I didn't mention before, is that sometimes a little rivalry is a good thing. Once in a great while, if Kodi has been a little less tahn enthusiastic in agility, we've put him in his crate at the edge of the ring, and let him watch as I run my trainer's dog using HIS COOKIES!!!
. It's amazing how willing he has been to run with me after that.
He is so attentive to me anywhere anytime. He checks in with me constantly when we are just out for a walk and sometimes wakes up and looks for me and goes back to sleep. I think this is one of the reasons he's taken to heeling so easily, it just comes natural to him, he wants to be next to me. I'm in class with several different breeds, retrievers, collies, mixes and yes even a beagle needless to say Timmy wins the most attentive to handler award. LOL
There are different challenges with all kinds of temperaments. A lot of people have no trouble getting their dogs to wait for a recall, but then the dog either plods back without enthusiasm or runs off like a wild man, and doesn't ruturn to the handler when first learning formal recalls. With Kodi, I had to slowly work up to a full-length recall, because he didn't want to be that far from me, but once we conquered that, we have had NO problem with a fast, enthusiastic recall, becuase all he wants is to get back to me as fast as possible! The recall itself is the reward for having waited.
With heeling, some sensitive dogs get laggy, some enthusiastic dogs get forgey. (this is a problem I have with Kodi) some dogs blow their owners off and run around, while others run around from stress. Some sniff the floor hoping for food, others (like Kodi) do it as a displacement behavior when feeling stressed. Dogs often do a mixture of behaviors, and it can be challenging to figure out why, so we can fix the problem. ... And some heel beautifully for a while, then lose interest in it as time goes on.
This sounds like me I have become very aware of "my" feelings during home training sessions. If I find myself getting frustrated and not having fun, like sessions become more of a chore, then I stop. Depending on time I'll try again later. Since I'm splitting time between two of them sometimes I feel obligated to get another session in with the other dog and I'm just not feeling it. If I'm not 100% with each dog it's just not worth it, they can read me like a book.
Yes, that can certainly happen too, and you are very wise to put it away for later if you are getting frustrated. But that's not quite what I was talking about. I was talking about stopping the moment you sense any lack of total committment to the game in the DOG. I think many people practice too long. (I know I did in the beginning) you can get more done in 2 or 3 2-5 minute sessions a day than you can with a half hour or even 15 consecutive minutes with each dog.
It gets a little easier to keep things fresh with dogs who are futher along in their training and know a lot of different exercises... Especially when you find some that the dog finds very self-rewarding. Then you can work a LITTLE longer at a stretch, because you can sprinkle those exercises the dog really likes in with the others. But even then, it's easy to over do it.
On days that Kodi doesn't have a class, we have one slightly longer session in the training room where we work on a lot of different things with TINY bits of heeling mixed in. But every day, except for trial days, we do little tiny bits of things, usually for no more than 30 seconds at a time, and often things I can do sitting at my desk. Or in the kitchen while I'm working in there, I'll get a handful of about 10 treats and do ten fronts or ten finishes or ten pivots. I've almost always got treats in my pocket for these little training moments.
I should set a timer that's a great idea. I start sessions with a list in my head on what I think we need to work on. Timmy's hardest part now is standing, not sitting, while in the place position (my left side). He just doesn't like to stand and thinks he can sit without being released.
Why are you working on this? If your goal is competitive obedience and/or rally, you really want an automatic sit while heeling. While you CAN tell your dog ro sit in rally, you can't (without losing points, anyway) in obedience. The dog is supposed to sit every time the handler halts. The ONLY time that you ask for a stand without a sit first is the moving stand in rally and utility level obedience. And these are both very different from the dog's perspective, because the handler's feet never stop moving.
The action of walking next to me comes pretty easily to him, I'm the one who needs to practice with my pace like slowing down around the cones so he can keep up.
Just remember that in both rally and obedience, adapting your speed to the dog will cost you points. If you do it consistently within an exercise in obedience, it can be an NQ. This is especially true on the figure 8. The whole purpose of the figure 8 in obedience is to show that the dog will adapt to the HANDLER, by speeding up on the outside turn and slowing down on the inside turn (because the dog has to cover more distance on the outside turn than they do on the inside) to remain in heel position while the handler walks at a steady pace.
Of course, it takes some practice to come up with a walking speed that is "brisk" but right for your dog. You can take faster or slower steps or take shorter or longer steps. You need to figure out what works best for your dog, then learn how to produce that consistently. My trainer has us practice with a metronome. (There are lots of free metronome apps that you can put on your phone). It's annoying as heck, but the best way I know to learn a consistent pace.
One of the benefits of working with Mae is that it makes me go back to the basics constantly. I'm in awe to see how far Tim has come after working with Mae.
I can't wait to have a puppy to lwork with too. I keep thinking of things I'll do a bit differently with my "next" dog. But with the book project I'm working on, a new puppy can't happen before next year.