I'm finding that heeling with the metronome is really keeping my pace more even, and faster. It seems to be especially effective when I'm practicing the about, left and right turns, as it is helping me keep up my pace coming out of the turns. The heeling seems to be going smoother now - partly because of the metronome and partly because I am really trying to pay closer attention to how I'm moving.
We were training at the club this afternoon, although we have been out to the fairgrounds and to a park this week. The smooth even floor surface makes it easier to practice the heeling and turns in a ring, however, the training outdoors in new places has also helped Jackson work with distractions. When we are working outdoors, he tends to slow down and look around, so I'm hoping that training outdoors routinely will help him work through the distractions.
Susan Garrett talks about something called “Buck Fever” in her dog training blog. This is when 'a marksman on the practice range can hit any target in any situation or environmental stressor. However put that same shooter out in the bush with the adrenaline pumping and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn.' She likened this to how handlers can do good in practice, but in the trial environment, it sometimes falls apart. The remedy - success. The more you rehearse being at a trial and performing the exercises successfully, the more likely it is that you will be able to repeat it. So, with that in mind, we're starting to think that we need to look for some trials to enter - to start rehearsing success!