Gimme did particularly well today, even though I was again rushed getting to class. I left home extra early and still arrived as class was just about to start. So again her perimeter walk was abbreviated - though not as much as last time. She didn't seem to need as much time to acclimate, so either she is getting used to the place or our practice last night had her in ready-to-train mode.
We practiced at DaPaws last night and had the whole 80' x 80' space available. Its very nice to have so much room for heeling. With so much space it became clear to me I have not set as clear criteria for "side". "Heel" is nice and tight and Gimme really knows where it is. The position for "side" is much wider and she tends to lag a bit. So this is something we'll work on. I try to get out to DaPaws twice a month.
We started class with a small course to warm up on. I've recreated it here. Unfortunately I can't turn the course signs, so I added numbers to help you make sense of it.
The idea was for us to try to maintain a good flow. Gimme did real well. She had one break of focus toward the beginning (at #3 CCW spin). I worked with her and got her back to work. Then we had another break of focus when I made a handling mistake, cued a "thru", then realized it was one too many and brought my leg forward, just in time to bonk her in the head. Since I stepped on her foot just last night, I think she had zero patience for being bonked today.
After the course work, we all worked on teaching our dogs to back around us. I've been working on this with little success, trying to free-shape it, and I thought the issue was because its so similar to the way Gimme backs up at "heel" (also at "side" but not as good), if I pivot in place. So I thought she didn't understand, expecting me to be pivoting.
Kathy teaches this in a set of wire guides or 24" expens. You start with your dog standing in "side" (or "heel") and then you shuffle carefully into their shoulder. The social pressure will cause the dog to back up a step or so. The handler should do this all facing in one direction... pick a point and keep your nose pointed to it. Also be prepared to rapidly treat from either hand, whichever is closest to the dog's nose. If you don't, the dog will try to turn around, or will take two steps backward and then bounce forward again. Try to feed the treats on the "outside" of the dog's face, to encourage them to step back and toward you. You want to keep them moving in the right direction, so be prepared to gently body block any attempts to turn around.
I wish I could diagram this for you, but it would be too convoluted. The key thing is to always shuffle toward the dog's shoulder while keeping your front oriented in one direction. So, you'll be shuffling in a little circle. As soon as the dog gets more comfortable with this backward circling, make your shuffle steps smaller until they just become a weight shift. The goal is to get it on a verbal cue as soon as you can so the dog doesn't become dependent on your body movement.
I'm looking forward to training this now. It helps to have a clear idea of what to do. Of course, it also helps to have a really brilliant dog.