Tag Archives: treats

Healing and Heeling

I’m so proud of Callie. She taught me a valuable lesson last week, and together we informed our obedience instructor of a new piece of information to add to her large knowledge base.

After the dragging required by our instructor last week (when Callie would stop walking… read more here) Callie was totally afraid of the word heel and would pull back immediately if she hit the end of the leash, as if in preparation for being dragged. She was also a little more fearful of me.

So, I started over. First, I rid the word heel from my vocabulary. Then I refused to drag her along as I walked. For the first couple of days, I would stop when she did, give her leash a quick tug, saying, “come on,” or “let’s walk” show her a treat and call her along. Then I moved to pulling her along for two steps, stopping, calling to her and usually she would start walking so she would get a treat.

I did go get a martingale collar and a much lighter leash to which she responded very well.

Finally, on the day before class, I began reintroducing the word “heel” on occasion, interspersed with the other commands I had been giving. She would stop at first but grew more comfortable as we went along.

Tuesday came, and it was time for class. I spoke to the instructor ahead of time. I tried to explain about puppy mill dogs and how they are only ever grabbed by their scruffs, why that might make Callie react the way she does when pulled on the leash. The instructor listened to me, although I am not sure she fully paid attention to what I was trying to tell her until class began.

Beforehand, I had been smart and stopped for some smoked cheese. I broke it up into little bits in my treat bag and mixed it with her regular Zukes treats so those would be coated with cheese too.

We began class with heeling around the room, Callie started with a pause, a little nervous and reactionary after the week before. Who could blame her? But I got out a little cheese. Suddenly, I had a dog who was heeling perfectly around the room. A few pieces of cheese kept her going, but she was passing other dogs who weren’t behaving quite as well. The instructor’s jaw was nearly on the floor.

We worked on heeling turns next. Callie seems to get really frustrated when she doesn’t know what I want from her, so I had to help her a lot with this, keeping her in place while trying to turn, LOL.

We heeled around the room again, stopping to do heeling turns. Callie did great, especially with the cheese as an incentive, but finally, she hit her limit and sat, refusing to move. I recognized that she needed a break, so I just sat in the middle of the floor with her while all the other dogs went around us.

The last thing we did in class was begin work on recall with the instructor holding the leash and us across the room. Not only did Callie do a beautiful sit-stay while I walked across the room from her, but she ran to me with excellent speed and intent.

Callie was the star student last week. Now let’s see if we can keep it up tomorrow. All I know is that learning with Callie is often following along blindly and stumbling our way through each moment.

Jess and I took Callie to the park this weekend. She made a new best friend, the flying turtle! Plus she practiced her obedience work outside with kids around. My brilliant dog 😊.

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Flying turtle!
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Happy Dog!

Guess what else! This morning I got my first semblance of a doggie smile while giving Callie some scratchies 💖 fullsizeoutput_d7f

Enter the Stairs

Callie got lucky the other day!

animal-planet-pet-stepsI was at a thrift store the other day and found what looked to be a brand new set of dog stairs. Decent ones too. Folding, wooden, with fabric on the steps.

I have been holding out on buying her a set, trying to figure out what is the least expensive, but still solid, option out there but the choices are overwhelming.

I’ve mentioned before that Callie really doesn’t like being picked up but can’t, or rather won’t (I’ve seen her do it before, sneaky girl), get on the couch by herself. She also can’t get on the bed or go down stairs. So pet steps provide two excellent solutions, first regarding the picking up problem, and then training opportunities, both going up and then coming down the stairs.

Turns out the steps aren’t brand new, but I’m not super surprised. The only real problem was that the dowels that held the last support were broken. My wife and I held the steps steady instead until we could get new pieces, and got the cheese ready.

Side-note, nobody in this house can eat dairy, cheese stays because it is the ultimate training tool for Callie. NEVER overuse your dog’s favorite reward, be it food or toy, or it will lose its magic. Save it for the big training steps.

It took a little while, and a whole lot of treat bribes, but she eventually climbed up the steps to the couch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get pictures of her on the way up because of how we were positioned holding the steps, but my wife got several of Callie’s hesitant attempts to go back down.

It started like this:

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“Human, there is not enough cheese in the world to make me go down those stairs!”

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“I MEANT WHAT I SAID, HUMAN!”

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“Mmmm, I do like cheese, though….”

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“K, maybe just ONE paw. ONE.”

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“Huh? What? I was paying attention to the cheese.”

This was, of course, over approximately 30 minutes or so, but I loved the end pics! However, right after they were taken, she realized how far down the stairs she was and immediately backpedaled. That was the end of it for the night.

Overall thoughts on the stairs – I want to buy nicer ones eventually, but as an avid thrifter, I can be happy with my thrift store score for a while. It seems like the stairs get Callie’s vote too, at least for getting ON the couch.

P.S. Promise to return with pictures of going UP, too.