Thursday, 26 February 2009

Confidence Booster - Beautiful Heelwork

One of my customers is a little Fox Terrier, around 6 months old. He's a terrible puller - oh so many interesting things just out of reach! So I take him out twice a week to teach him to walk nicely on a lead.

At this point my confidence takes a dive, as I worry that it's beyond me, I can't do it, how can I possibly be getting paid for this, I'm going to be shown up as a fraud, etc etc.

I don't train people, as I have no training for this, but over the last couple of years I've taught quite a few foster dogs the basics (and Fred, who was a terrible puller, now trots along with a loose lead quite happily) and passed the ideas that worked for that dog onto the new owner, plus this isn't the first puppy I've taught to walk without pulling, it's just the first time it's been the specific aim of my time. Even when I can see he is learning (offlead all round the garden, beautiful heelwork, pausing both sides of open doorways etc), I still worry that it's not working. I need some confidence!

Well, today I received a boost. I took the pup to a very quiet cul-de-sac, and practised. We do lots of turns at the moment, to keep him from knowing where he's going and so rushing ahead, and we're increasing the forward distance slowly. We got up to around 20 paces in a straight line successfully on-lead (around 12m) a few times, so I didn't push it any further. Then I dropped the lead, went back to lots of turns, and got 10 paces of wonderful heelwork a few times! Still didn't want to push it too far and go terribly wrong. As we were working, another dog owner came round the corner. I spotted it first, so was able to collect the lead and have a controlled greeting. I told the other dog owner we weren't ready to add in dogs as distractions yet, but he told me how impressive he thought Nelson was anyway!

I reported back to Mum and she said she and her husband had both noticed a difference, so I must learn to credit myself that this is something I can do! I can't wait for my John Rogerson course in August, which I hope will be another confidence booster for me, and I look forward to picking up some new techniques.