We went to the club this morning to do some training. I've been doing a little training on all the utility exercises at each session, then some extra on one or two elements. Trying to get back to basics. Did extra work on heeling today. Started using the 'choose to heel' method a few months ago and it has really helped with his heeling position. He is highly motivated by food (when not stressed), but has a tendency to lag, especially when stressed in the ring. I'm hoping to build 'muscle memory' on the heel position, so it becomes natural for him, even under stress. I also don't allow him to lag in practice. If he does, the lead goes back on for a while. I'm also paying particular attention to moving between exercises - keeping him in heel position as we move to set up for the exercises. I have seen a lot of improvement in his heeling, but still not dependable in a ring/stressful situation.
I had an epiphany today regarding the slow/no sits on the go-outs. I realized that his slow/no sits on the go-outs didn't happen until I combined them with the directed jumping. Last time I was at the club, I didn't do the jumps because he was limping a little. His sits on those go-outs were good. Then today, when I added the jumps to the exercise, his good sits disappeared. Hmmm.... coincidence, or the reason for the slow/no sits? Maybe I will work on the go-outs and the jumps separately for awhile.
We were doing pretty good on the focus/attention aspects of things until some members showed up and started moving the agility equipment out at the other end of the building. He is very, very worried about agility equipment. I have tried to desensitize him to it on several occasions by walking him around the equipment when no one else was there and giving him treats for approaching the equipment - but, he still has a fear of it. (We just may need to avoid trials where agility is going on in the same building.) Anyway, we continued to work the articles and glove exercises, which he knows well, with the distraction. He was able to do them, but still very worried about what was going on in the building with the agility equipment. Hopefully, working through his fears will be another small step in building confidence.
Next time we go to the club, I think we'll do some extra work on attention for the signal exercise. He knows the signals, but sometimes will avoid looking at me and miss the signal. I've started standing in front of him and tossing treats to him - and, he's getting pretty good at catching Bil-Jac treats from 15 feet away! I'm wondering if this is going to result in more focus on me.