Embarrassing ourselves at Freestyle Heelwork to Music

heelwork to music

On Friday evening Guinness and I wandered into the Dig It obedience hall to have a go at some doggy dancing! Kim Lyddon has visited Dig It a number of times to provide instructor training as part of her Dog Business Academy. As well as being a brilliant speaker and educator in instructor skills and psychology, she’s also a fabulous dog trainer. Kim and her collie Tyler were runners up at Crufts this year in the Freestyle final with a brilliant routine and she teaches heelwork to music to others (http://pawperformance.co.uk/).

Of course I couldn’t miss out on the chance to not only see this person, who teaches others how to teach, teaching a class but also the opportunity to train Guinness in a new discipline. We do a fair amount of trick training at home and attended one of Gwynneth’s heelwork to music classes at Dig It a few years ago, but haven’t done anything much since.

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It was so much fun! It’s always great to train alongside friends and there was a fair amount of banter flying throughout the room, mostly comments of “two left feet” and “multi-tasking”.

Kim is a brilliant teacher. I’ve always found her to be an entertaining speaker and she’s the same in a dog training environment. Not only did she teach us how to train the individual exercises but also touched on fundamental aspects of dog training, such as how to switch on and off your dog and how to tackle barking (something that Guinness is rather good at).

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We started by running through different tricks and all along Kim mentioned how we’d be putting them together later on. We’d learn one move, and then put it together with another move, then learn a new move, and put that together with another move. Thus-forth starting to practice the transition between one move to the next.

I was pleased to see that I had already taught Guinness all of the tricks we covered except for one, circle around the back of the chair and then coming under the chair and out through the legs. He found this a little tricky as he had to crawl under, but picked it up okay.

After a short break Kim introduced the piece of music and demonstrated the routine. We all had a go without our dogs. Then it was time to have a go with the dogs!

Well I thought we’d got it okay, but with the pressure of the music suddenly everything went pear-shaped! It’s amazing how much you panic when you are trying to keep in time to a song and change moves at exactly the right time (or perhaps it’s just me). It’s not dissimilar to the feeling I get stood on the start line of a competitive agility run compared to in training.

It was so funny. I think we made a fair first attempt at it, but there’s definitely room for improvement!

After a second try we all ended on a cheer and Kim Lyddon rounded up the evening.

“Make it fun for your dog and keep your verbal and visual cues clean and clear.”

What a great evening. Packed full of learning and doing what I enjoy the most, training and having fun with Guinness.

A few of us have requested another workshop in the New Year and I can’t wait! I don’t think we’ll be hitting the Crufts carpet any time soon, but it sure is good fun.

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