I have been working on a new trick with Dazzle and it has become one of his favorite moves!
I call it "hands up!" and the cue will be my hands up if he's starting in heel position or a "gun hand" if he's in front of me. He gets in this position and holds it till I click. In the photo, he is resting his head against my hip for support, but I have seen him do it freestanding (facing the same direction I am as well as in front of me) so I know he can do it without support. He really seems to enjoy this! I can see it as a cute part of a freestyle or tricks routine.
His training is still going well, but the other day for some reason he decided he didn't like his SD cape. I checked it carefully for anything that could be poking or pinching and found nothing. But I have been pairing it with our training sessions (high value) instead of only going to the van and his dislike has gone away. He doesn't like the seatbelt being put on and in turn this has caused him to not want to get in the van. So I have taken out a back seat and put a crate in. Now he's happy to go to the van. He has definite likes and dislikes. :-) I'll work on pairing the seatbelt with food and fun stuff at some point so I can start using it in the van again but for now he still fits in the medium crate. I think he was backchaining and anticipating getting in the van and the seatbelt when he saw the cape. Hopefully I have broken the chain and he can be happy about it again.
I skipped class on Monday because I was having a bad day which was just not conducive to training. But class on Tuesday went well. We worked on a lot of stuff, both with the class and between class excerises. I had a bit of trouble keeping his focus at times, but as long as I kept him busy and didn't expect too much inactivity (stays) he did well. We did work on stays in class, I just kept the rewards high. I worked on stays tonight at home and had him stay while I kicked a tennis ball around. He was shaking with anticipation to get that ball! He broke position a few times, but I just had him go back and start over and he did fine. Then I worked on having him stay in heel position while I threw the ball as if it was a dumbbell. I released him to get it and had him sit in front to hand it back to me for the next round. He wanted the ball more than the treats, so we worked with that for awhile.
I have been practicing my body position (not turned toward him) and my speed while heeling. He's doing great in the basement and did ok in class, though he lagged more than usual. I'm really looking forward to becoming a member of the training club next month so I can get a key to practice there in a "real ring" and when other dogs are around. I have been doing "go outs" with him too. He likes to target the ring gates and run to them and then I have him sit or down. Sometimes he spins so fast to sit facing me he almost hits the gates!
I plan to buy him a dumbbell of his own at the show in Indy next month so I can start teaching formal retrieves. I think he will do well with that.