Rover Achiever | Paws in Heel Position
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Paws in Heel Position

Paws in Heel Position

I learned a lot of K9 freestyle from watching the famous video of Carolyn and Rookie and trying to teach my dogs the routine. Lately I’ve been working on teaching Tyson how to get his paws in sync with my feet in Heel position, and I’m kind of stuck. I try to teach my dogs verbal cues in freestyle as opposed to hand signals, but when it comes to teaching a dog a cue to identify his right paw (Paw) from his left paw (Shake), I feel like I’m asking too much -I confuse my lefts and rights so how can I expect my dog to distinguish his? Emily Larlham calls it happy feet when the dog offers alternating paws in repetition. But if I want my feet to be in SYNC with the dog’s paws, how do I go about doing this? Some thoughts:
a) Set high expectations for Tyson and try to teach a verbal cue for the right paw and then a verbal cue for the left paw and drill it – figure out if my dog can learn the difference between left and right, OR,
b) Observe the first paw that he lifts when he’s doing happy feet and then try to follow along (this assumes the dog always favors one foot to start with), OR,
c) Let go of trying to be in sync and just accept the fact that the trick will still look good even if my feet and his paws are mismatched. Are Rookie and Carolyn’s in sync or do you even notice? OR
d) Have a hand signal that identifies which paw should be lifted but eventually fade it to a head tilt or something less obvious.

While scrutinizing the Grease routine, I think that either Rookie is looking at her shoulders or Carolyn knew what foot he started on. Maybe I can send her an email and ask her??? In the meantime, I’m abandoning a verbal cue for the risk of screwing up everything. I’m trying to get Tyson to work with a finger cue which I think I will fade and use a snap and eventually the head tilt. What I like about the finger cue is that it’s slowing everything down and making him deliberate about which paws he’s raising and for how long he holds the position. The good news is with all this practice I feel like I have much better control with Tyson’s paws and the duration he holds them up for. Even if we never get our feet and paws in sync I’m sure this practice will be useful in some other tricks down the road.

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