Now we are going to circle back around to our initial ring routine tasks, and build arousal into them. These are familiar elements, so we don’t need a high number of repetitions, but we do want a high value of reinforcement.
Pair your ring entry routine, from the wait position to setting up at heel position, with a very high energy reinforcement game. This could be tugging for 30s or more per rep, or you can mark and run together to a bowl of really high value food. We are looking for arousal and speed now, not control, so we won’t use the zen bowl for this exercise.
We are looking for the dog to explode into the ring and slam into heel position with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, so ignore minor errors in precision.
In the ring, you’ll be taking your leash off and handing it to one of the figure 8 stewards. In AKC, this will happen after the figure 8, and in CDSP it will happen before the figure 8.We’ll work that into our ring routine soon, but for now practice handing the leash to a human from varying angles on your right side. As you hand off the leash, keep your face and shoulders turned toward the dog and position your body between the dog and the human.
Your dog doesn’t need to be in formal heel position (in fact, keep the setup casual), but deliver the treat each time at your left side just as we did with backwards walking.
Start with the human stationary, and incrementally increase the number of steps the human approaches to take the leash.
Practice these heeling chain segments:
- First step – 3 steps – halt
- First step – 5 steps – halt
- Fast – Normal – right turn
- About turn – fast
- About turn – slow
- Slow (normal) – left turn
We now have the pieces of taking off the leash, handing it to a person, hand touch, call to heel, and the components of the Figure 8. It’s time to put them together!
You can use 2 humans if you have them, or 1 human and 1 cone. If 1 human, put the human in the place of the right post of the Figure 8. The instructions are written assuming 1 human, modify as needed.
When interacting with the steward (to high five or hand leash), turn so that your body still faces the dog, and hand the leash back over your right shoulder to the steward. Keep your eyes on your dog and your body between your dog and the steward the entire time.
For CDSP, you will remove the leash and hand it to the Figure 8 steward on your right BEFORE the Figure 8.
- Back chain by starting with your left circle around the cone, human on the right post. Reinforce.
- Then, down your dog, high five the human on your right (mimicking movement without leash), call your dog to heel, and complete the left circle around the cone.
- Now add the leash removal. Remove the leash as you’ve practiced, down your dog, and step away to hand the leash to the steward, hand touch, call your dog to heel, and complete the left circle. Jackpot!
For AKC, you will complete the Figure 8 and THEN remove the leash and hand it to the steward on the right.
- Back chain by starting with calling your dog to heel position from a down. Reinforce.
- Then, down your dog, high five the human on your right (mimicking movement without leash), call your dog to heel.
- Now add the leash removal. Remove the leash as you’ve practiced, down your dog, and step away to hand the leash to the steward, call your dog to heel.
- Complete the right circle of the Figure 8, halt, step back, remove the leash, down the dog, hand it to the steward, hand touch, and call the dog to heel. Jackpot!