On the advice of our trainer, Lisa, at My Dog Training Center, Eli and I are working with my cane as an aid to loose leash walking and heeling.
The idea is to entice Eli to touch a target on my cane while we are walking together. I put a hair band on my cane. I stuck a yummy treat inside the hair band and gave Eli the command to "leave it." Eli gets into heel position on my right side, which is different from what we had been doing as I previously had Eli on my left. Lisa feels that Eli being on my right and being able to walk on a loose leash will make it easier for me by not having both hands holding something while walking. It definitely makes sense! To be honest, I did not think it would be possible to have Eli walk to my right. I do not know everything, obviously, and am very grateful to have Lisa.
Anyway, once Eli is at my side and ready to go I move forward and give Eli the command to "come." In intervals, I ask Eli to touch his nose to the treat attached to my cane by telling him, "here." When we have finished our short walk, Eli gets back into heel position and is rewarded with the treat.
Due to his surgery yesterday and the illness I came down with, we have not been able to do a lot of practicing this week. It drives me nuts, in a way, because this Friday is the third week of Canine Good Citizen class and the test is just three weeks away. Eli and I are going to be cramming in the coming weeks, but we are also going to be moving to our new home at the end of the month. This is going to be a real challenge for us. However, where there is a will, there is a way.
Eli's "stay" is beautiful. So is his recall.
Saturday and Tuesday, although they were big moments of separation, were good in the sense that Eli had the opportunity to prove himself while he and I were apart. Saturday was horrible for him because he knew that I had something wrong and his instinct was to want to be with me. He was nervous and looked for me, which is great as far as being a service dog. He did not freak out and bark or pace consistently, which is great as far as the CGC evaluation. While I do not know what Eli's behavior was after I left the veterinarian's office Tuesday, I do know that he transitioned from me to the tech quietly and accepted the idea of staying there with her. He definitely was happy to see me when I arrived to pick him up, though.
Throughout Eli's recovery from his surgery I will be taking it easy on him. I have to for my own sake, as well. We will be practicing a little bit here and there and continuing to reinforce and refine our skills as handler and companion. I can not let Eli fail!