Kickin Up Week 4

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Questions? Ask DebbyQ Week 1

Week 2

Week 3 PDFs You may want

Kickin Up Heeling Training Log week 4

Kickin Up Heeling week 4 Points to Remember

Whether you are in the BLUE or GOLD group, I would like to hear from you.
Please go to the “?????” Tab. Answer a few short questions and let me know your thoughts on class :>)

24/7Heeling GamesOne-Way FocusDIGPrecisionPS?????U-AskedFinal Thoughts
Training is 24/7 – Each week I will give you everyday life examples and ways to improve your rapport with your dog!

Once your dog is confident and understands a game, skill, or exercise, “proof or test” his understanding of that game, skill, or exercise by adding distractions or by training in unfamiliar locations. When your dog is successful and confident with the current level of distraction, challenge your dog even more by increasing the level of distraction. Routinely testing your dog by adding distractions and training in new locations will help increase his comprehension of the skill or exercise and enable him to respond correctly to your commands.

Training Secret – BE PROACTIVE! BE PRACTICAL, BE POSITIVE AND GET DOWN TO BUSINESS! Plan ahead for your training session.  What will you train?  What games will you add or practice? Did you remember to write down the good things and things that need work from your last training session?  Decide ahead of time what your reaction will be to your dog’s responses and act upon it!  Keep your dog engaged the entire training session.  Avoid periods of hesitancy and uncertainty during training!

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The following are the skills I feel have contributed to my success when training and showing.  Enjoy and please feel free to email me your thoughts.  

Add a consequence, like the “U-Missed-It” Game with a cookie or toy for lack of attention. Be sure to reward your dog’s effort by rewarding him when he is doing a great job watching you.

Start all new games stationary with your dog at your side, and to reward your dog’s effort. Once your dog understands the game, you can add a consequence for your dog’s lack of attention by playing the “U-Missed-It” Game. Don’t forget to practice the games with your dog on both your right and left side.

Steps to Success Games 10-12

GAME 10: Through your legs and return to heel.

  • Start with your feet apart and your dog casually standing in front of you.
  • Place a piece of food in your left hand and position your hand behind and between your legs.
  • Small dog?  It sometimes helps to use an “arm extender” for the food so that it is more visible to your dog. As an example, use a long mixing spoon or spatula. Put peanut butter or a treat on the end of it so that it is more visible to your dog.  Wean off the stick quickly.
  • Show your dog the food, and tell him “get it”.
  • Use the treat to lure your dog between your legs and release your dog up at your left side.
  • NO sit in heel position.  Keep the game fun!
  • As your dog goes through your legs say “through” or the command that you will use.
  • As soon as your dog is at your left side, do the “JUMP TO THE HAND GAME” to release him up to the reward.
  • Do not let your dog sit at heel position.
  • Make “through the legs” fun and energizing. This game will help your finishes too!
  • Be sure to hold your left hand still and close to your side, as your dog jumps up to get the treat, i.e. release UP in heel position.
  • Play and interact with your dog, then try again.

Game 11: Over your head – this is a great game if your dog crowds you while heeling.

  • Start with your dog in a sit in heel position.
  • Have a toy or treat in your right hand.
  • Say “get it” as you drop the toy, pocket, or treat over your head down to your dog in heel position.
  • It is important to drop the toy/treat straight down into heel position for your dog and not off to the left side.
  • Drop it in heel position.
  • Play tug or the “KrazyKookie” Game.
  • Repeat.

Game 12: FREEZE!

  • Have your dog in heel position and heel forward in slow pace.
  • Suddenly stop all forward motion. Do not close your feet or give a Halt cue, just freeze (stop).
  • If your dog gets out of position, laugh, and push him out of heel position.
  • >Really rev up your dog.  This will encourage him to forge as you suddenly freeze again.
  • The freeze can be used anywhere during your heeling when your dog is focused or is anticipating a turn or forging.  Examples: use on the outside post of the figure-8 or on an About turn.
  • Repeat :>)
  • Remember to literally freeze in mid-stride while you are heeling. No halt cue.

Video Notes:  Rip and I are demonstrating through.  He just loves this and it is a great way to line-up for an exercise when we are showing.  Note that I make sure Rip keeps his head up while he goes through my legs. Riker is learning “over the head” in the next clip.  As I am dropping the toy, I say “get it” so Riker knows it is ok to get the toy.  Sly and I demonstrate dropping a toy over your head while heeling.  Freeze is so much fun!  Sly, Rip, and I are demonstrating the “freeze”. This is my favorite part of heeling.  I love to “TEST” my dog’s knowledge of heel position and the freeze does just that!





  • Your dog goes through your legs slowly.  Goose him in the rear end or grab his tail.  Laugh when he looks at you. LOL  Challenge him and insist he goes through in a speedy fashion.
  • When you freeze your dog continues to move forward.  Is there a consequence when he does not stop with you?  Try pushing him out of the way or saying “what the heck” and calmly taking his collar and muzzle and putting him back in heel.  Praise him but no reward.

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Training SECRET – Show to train. When you show, think about what you need to train instead of the Q or points. In the long run, the information you get at shows will help your training.  The better or more efficiently you train the more results you will see in the ring.

Putting it all together
Now it is time to Practice what you have learned—-

In a practice ring, heel with your dog towards the ring gate, fence, or wall. Utilize your One-Way Focus and practice going through the opening and into the ring while in One-Way Focus. Use games to reward your dog’s effort and success. Use the “U-Missed-It” Game for lack of effort and focus while entering the ring or when heeling towards an object. Once your dog knows a skill or behavior, it is important to randomly reward those skills and behaviors if you want to continue.

Go to a new location.

  • Go to a new location to practice heeling.
  • When practicing pivots, pace changes or turns, focus forward so that you are not “looking” directly at your dog.
  • Review pace changes, pivots and heeling in “One-Way Focus”.
  • Remember to use a mirror or something similar so that you can see your reflection and your dog.
  • If your dog maintains attention, reward your dog WITHOUT LOOKING AT YOUR DOG!!!
  • If your dog looks away from you, play one of the HEELING GAMES to get your dog’s attention back on you.
  • You MUST deliver the reward or a surprise HEELING GAME or the “U-Missed-It” Game without looking at YOUR dog!!!
  • After the reward or game occurs, you can look at your dog again.

Video Notes:  Rip and I demonstrate One-Way Focus while heeling.  I am looking a foot ahead of me and on the floor.  This way I can see Rip out of the corner of my eye.





  • Your dog becomes distracted and will not pay attention.  Go back and review foundation teaching, i.e. reward your dog BEFORE he losses focus when you are not looking at him.  Many times a dog learns the habit of looking around when their handler is NOT looking at him.  Spend time on the foundations of the One-Way Focus skill.
  • Your dog does great outside the ring but once you start to enter the ring your dog’s focus “goes south”.  Think of what you do anytime you approach a ring entry.  You go into “One-Way Focus” because you are looking at the judge or stewards.  Both DIG and “One-Way Focus” training will help your dog gain focus and know his job.  It will take time and training for your dog to learn a new habit.  Take your time!

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Steps to Success ~ Moving through an entry or between barriers. The start to great performance when showing.

This week set up or use an entrance such as baby gates, a gate going into your yard, a doorway, or a sidewalk between hedges.  Anything that will simulate a ring entrance. Getting into the ring with focus is your first step to success in the ring.

  • Start with your dog in a stand, sit or fall into heeling from play.
  • NOTE: do NOT always start your dog from a sit.  Mix it up and keep training FUN!
  • Heel slowly towards the simulated ring opening.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the opening.
  • This means BEFORE he actually LOOKS where you are going!
  • Repeat until your dog is confident.
  • Use the heeling games to release your dog.

The object is having focus and attention from your dog as you approach and eventually go through the opening. This is a crucial part for your showing later. Spend loads of time and don’t be in a rush to go “through” the opening. It is your dog’s focus and attitude you are seeking.

Training SECRET – when training or showing, our performance starts when I take my dog out of the crate and continues until he goes back into the crate.   Treats or rewards are NOT given at the crate after we show.  Instead, we continue to work when leaving the ring.  My dog gets rewards for working/training.  Have you ever seen the dog that looks like he is beaten when he is in the ring BUT he becomes lively and pulls his owner back to the crate? Now guess why?

Video Notes:  DIG is one of my FAVORITE skills!  Sly and I demonstrate training going towards a ring opening. On the third repetition Sly actually gives me more focus.  That heightened focus is the only reason I continued to heel through the gate.  It was Sly’s cue to me that he was ready for the next step.  Videotaping your training is extremely helpful in pinpointing this heightened focus. Next, Sly and I heel towards two tires.  This still represents an “entrance”.  Notice the extra play we do after a great effort from Sly. We use a variety of Heeling Games as a reward. No matter what we use as a barrier, Sly gives the same effort. This shows me he is starting to “generalize” the concept. Lastly, we work on actually going into a ring entrance and lining-up for an exercise.  hahahahah   I even throw in some Leash on/off and One-Way Focus work too.





  • Your dog constantly drops his head as you are approaching or going through an entrance.   Work on upward releases BEFORE your get to the opening you are walking towards.  Make it fun to approach and rewarding to look at you when you are approaching something.
  • Your dog looks worried or concerned about going through an opening.  Use your Heeling Games to reward your dog AS you go through the opening.  Also, use many different types of openings so that your dog will generalize the behavior.
  • Your dog seems to HATE being in the ring!  He seems to shut down and can not wait to leave.  How would you like your dog to drag you into the ring instead of trying to drag you out?  Make the ring a great place to be.  Often, when I get a new puppy/dog, I take them to a Show N Go or Match.  We go into the ring and only play. We play going into the ring as well playing games, etc. once in the ring.  What could be more fun for my dog? The”environment” becomes so rewarding to them that my dogs LOVE to be in the ring. :>)   If your dog does not play with toys, play the “KrazyKookie” Game in the ring instead.  Make sure that you have extremely high value treats for the game.

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How do I do it?  Over the past 4 weeks we have gone over all the games I play as well as One-Way Focus, DIG, desire, light line work, etc. All these skills are the same ones I use with my dogs to get the focus, desire and perfect heeling that I have enjoyed when showing.

PLAN AHEAD! When you practice these moves think HOW you will respond IF your dog makes a mistake. Will you Push and Play? Show your dog where he should have been? Play the “U-Missed It” Game?  Whichever you feel is best – Be PROACTIVE when you train.  Remember if your dog makes a mistake play a Heeling Game or the “U-Missed-It” Game.  If your dog stays in heel position, REWARD HIM with a Heeling Game or the “KrazyKookie” Game.

MORE Heeling challenges –Testing your heeling and your dog’s understanding of heel position will give you the heeling you desire. Adding games into each move will inspire and keep your dog interested in heeling with you.  It will also make heeling more FUN both of you!

  • Go from fast pace directly into a halt
  • Say “heel” but walk backwards, then push and play.
  • Side steps – take 1-3 side steps to the right or left during heeling to teach your dog to stay with you and compensate for these moves.
  • Fading away (great for dogs that heel too wide) – gradually veer to the left or right to teach the dog to stay with you.

Doing games and being imaginative will peak your dog’s interest and keep the heeling game fun for both of you!

  • Spit a treat at your dog during heeling. If your dog’s is watching, he’ll catch it. If he’s not watching, play the “U-Missed It” Game by grabbing the cookie and pretending to eat it right in front of your dog it!!! I find that this is especially good for a dog that drops his head on a circle, left, right, and about turns, and a dog that gets distracted around ring gates.
  • Do things out of the ordinary to keep your dog guessing. For example go from slow to fast pace, fast pace to a halt, slow pace to a halt, drop your dog while heeling (asking for a down while heeling).
  • Play games anytime your dog drops his head. I love using the “thumb touch” game for this!

Video Notes:  Honestly, this is my favorite part of heeling with my dog.  Rip is a wonderful partner.  He knows that giving me effort is fun and loves looking and rising to the challenges I will throw at him.   Rip doesn’t get down or worried when wrong, rather he tries even harder.  I took loads of time doing all the skills in this class with him.  Over this time, Rip gained incredible confidence, the desire to work, and able to see the joy in proofing. 

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PS stands for Problem Solving

In this section, I list common Heeling problems and give a few ways to solve those problems.  While this list does not include ALL issues, I am hoping it will help with the common ones.   :>)

Crooked, forged, or OFF Sits – Most common fix for the bad sits issue is constant cuing of a halt.  Please see the “Handler Cues” Tab Week 1.   Teaching the halt cue is also very important.  When training or refreshing a halt sit, I tell my dog to “sit” as my left heel is getting ready to hit the ground.  So, I say “sit” before I actually stop.  It’s all about timing!   The other thing I look at with crocked sits are my “line-ups.”  Anytime I do a line-up I want to make sure my shoulders stay square and are facing front. Many times, I see people torquing their shoulders towards their dog.  hahahahahah  “Sexy Shoulders”!  When doing this, your dog sees a specific picture when sitting next to you.  If your dog sees your chest as you line up, then your dog feels he should always see your chest.  This results in a “forged” or “crooked” sit.   Lastly, watch the placement of your rewards.  Do you let your dog come in front of you or out of heel position to get rewards?  Reward your dog in heel position and while on the sit or release up to a toy/treat in heel position.

Forging  – First thing to look at is placement of the reinforcement. Honestly, I feel this one thing contributes to more training issues than people realize. For forgers, my reinforcement would be delivered either dropped directly down from under my left arm, over my head, or delivered behind my back.  Also, I would watch that my dog NEVER pushed forward to get or look for a reward.  This is a dog that starts to forge during heeling or even starts looking towards the handler’s right hand or side. Finally, I would use leash reining (in Week 2, Precision tab) to help my dog understand where heel position is located.

Lagging – This type of dog needs drive and confidence.  To fix lagging, I would actually teach my dog to forge, then slowly whittle away over time for a better heel position. That means I would add loads more Heeling Games. I would put games into each individual part of all my heeling skills. Example: for a dog that lags on an About Turn. I would release and reward randomly in every step of the turn. On the first step starting to turn, a game would be played. Once my dog is confident, I would then play on the second step into the turn, then the third step starting to come out of the turn, and so on.  I would mix and match where to play a game and keep it random throughout the career of my dog. In addition, I would also release my dog up and forward. This is actually rewarding in a forged position.

Inattentive – When a dog is unfocused and inattentive, review foundations first.  Make sure your dog understands his job.  Does your dog know DIG and One-Way Focus?  Look at how often you add in a surprising game.  When your dog is incorrect, how do you respond?  Do you pull out a treat to get your dog’s attention back?  WRONG!  Inadvertently you are teaching your dog NOT pay attention. In other words, you are saying “look away and I will pull out a treat”.  Instead, simplify by decreasing the amount of time you practice heeling.  Build on success and surprise Heeling Games.  Lastly, make sure you proof your heeling.  There are loads of ideas in Success is in the Proofing book.

Anticipation – Have you seen the dog that knows the about turn is going to happen before the handler.  :>0  Many dogs learn quickly when there will be a change of direction.  Usually this happens as the team is approaching a corner or barriers.  Or a dog knows which way to go on a Figure 8.  This type of anticipation is relatively easy to fix.  HOW?  Keep your dog guessing by doing unexpected moves.  Approach a corner where you would normally do a right or about turn, but instead do a left about turn.  On the outside post of the Figure 8, do a left about turn in the middle of the outside post or freeze your motion as you are going around the post.  These are just a few examples.  Keep your heeling fun and interesting by trying unexpected moves.

Wide – If your dog is heeling wide, first video tape yourself and make sure you are walking a straight line and not moving into your dog.  If you are walking in a straight line when heeling with your dog, take an abrupt step to the right.  Expect your dog to quickly fill in the space.  If your dog doesn’t, verbal get on him by saying “what the heck you are doing?”  You are suppose to be here.”  hahahahah   Next, check your placement of reward.  Are you rewarding in heel position?

Crowding – First video tape yourself and make sure that you are walking a straight line and not moving away from your dog.  Your dog might be staying close to you trying to stay in heel position. Placement of reward can help you solve this problem too. The Heeling Game, reward over your head and down to your dog will help your dog stay further away.

Pacing when heeling – There are a number of areas to look at when a dog paces in heel position. Structure can sometimes play a part when a dog paces. Walking faster or taking longer strides may help with pacing. Many times, it helps to try to get the dog to push or shift more onto his rear end.  When working with your dog, having him jump up for treat/toy can help in many cases.

Whatever your heeling problem is, there is a solution. Always look at placement of reward and your handling first. If in doubt, review foundations of your pivots then turns. Many times a dog that has been good at heeling just needs a refresher course on your criteria.

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Welcome to your Kickin Up 2.0 Week 4

Did you like and use the PDF files Offered?

What was the best thing you learned?

Name one way I can make this class better?

Will you recommend the class to friends next time it is offered?

Most importantly to me - did YOU like the class?

Are there any online classes that you would like me to offer?

Training vs Showing

So many times I hear – “my dog shuts down in the ring” or “my dog doesn’t do that in training”.

Recently, I posted an article on my blog about preventing shut down. If I must say, it is a great article and worth reading.  :>)

Here is a link to the post.

I wanted to add the following answers to questions I am often asked????

What do you think about while in the ring?

While in the ring, I concentrate on every step that my dog and I are taking.  From the moment he comes out of the crate until he returns after a run, I am focusing on what we are doing. I make sure all transition games or warm up skills meet my criteria and that my dog is focused and confident. When going into the ring, I notice if my dog is distracted by anything or anyone and make a mental note of the scenario so I can recreate something similar for training later.  During the performance in the ring, I try to notice anything that lacks polish or is less than I desire/criteria.  Also, I make  mental notes of skills to train later. After my dog is back in his crate, I write down the little things I saw and possible ways to improve and work on them.  I do not train to show, I show to see where my training is at and how I can improve our skills   :>)   Show to Train!

What is the key to your success?

Hahahahahah Something I wish I could bottle and sell. I think my confidence when I enter a show comes from the fact that I feel my dog KNOWS what I expect/criteria.  He has the desire to work with me even without treats/toys visible and we have built in duration of training. Please keep in mind that this does not mean we will not NQ but that I am sure my dog is confident in all situations, understands my criteria, has been proofed, and knows how to be successful. Most importantly, we have fun when training and showing.  We are relaxed and I feel this helps my dog learn to enjoy the ring environment.

How is training and showing different for you?

They are not different.  I train and show the same.  That is, when I am showing I am prepared to verbally mark anything my dog does out of my criteria.  Yes, I train in the ring, BUT I stay within the rules. When I train, I present my body posture, etc to my dog like he will see when in the ring.  When training or showing, I use verbal or motion cues to let my dog know when he is correct or needs to try harder.  This way I am consistent with cues and can give my dog needed information.

What do you feel is one of the biggest issues that you see in other people when training and showing dogs?

WOW that is a tough one :>0   I can only pick ONE!  :>)  Most likely there are two issues I see the most.

First, people that do not have any training criteria or are not sticking to their criteria when training/showing and expect their dog to perform appropriately.  Criteria are VERY important! It should be Black and White, pardon the border collie reference, to your dog.  The more exact and detailed your criteria are, the better and easier for your dog to understand and learn.  Another thing I see is when in the ring, people often try to cover or help their dogs so they can qualify or not lose points.  Unfortunately, this type of thinking is counter-productive and actually teaches their dog NOT to perform at all. It sort of becomes a learned helplessness. When in the ring, the last thing I think about is qualifying.  Instead, I know that if I hold my criteria in training and hold my dog accountable, it will eventually payoff for me when showing.


Second, is mental toughness training. It amazes me how many people do not practice this skill.  After all, the team is comprised of two, my dog and me. I must be able to do my job and focus on handling and cuing my dog while in the ring.  My nerves need to be under control and my views of the possible outcome have to be forgotten.  Over the years and numerous national competitions, I have seen the importance and practice this skill and mindset that showing requires to help with mental toughness and ring nerves.

There are a few books that I recommend to students.

Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life

by Chungliang Al Huang (Author), Jerry Lynch (Contributor)



That Winning Feeling!: Program Your Mind for Peak Performance,

by Robert Dover (Foreword by) by Jane Savoie (Author)



Also Kathy Keats has some wonderful books and courses on mental training.

Here her website
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Final thoughts
When training, I like to make sure all the pieces of an exercise meet my criteria before showing my dog. Over the years, I have found the One-Way Focus and DIG skills essential for success and cannot be rushed.  They are both important skills for the show ring.

There are MANY pieces in heeling to work on, perfect, and proof.  Take your time with the process and build “DESIRE” before progressing.  Enjoy the journey with your dog.

While competing, keep logs for training and showing. Video your training sessions and showing runs. Look for inconsistencies or problems and weaknesses that your dog might have. YES, all dogs have weaknesses. Examples, might be your dog dropping his head on about turns, or lack of focus going towards ring gates, or not using his rear end to pivot when you do left turns. Anytime you see an issue, pull that skill out of training sequences and review foundations on that skill.

Foundations are the FIRST step to review with your dog if there are problems. DO NOT ASSUME your dog knows a skill. Only when the problem skill is refreshed to your criteria should you add it back to your heeling sequences. This ensures that your dog understands your criteria for every skill.

I hope you have enjoyed Kickin Up Heeling 2.0 and learned many NEW training ideas, games, and tips. ALWAYS feel free to contact me. I WANT to hear from you with suggestions and ideas of what I can do to make classes better for ALL my students.


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