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See Our Competition Dog Obedience Students in Action

Permission to show these teams off? These 3 teams are from my Competition Dog Obedience class and they've been hard at work for the last 6-8 months building the skills necessary to teach their dogs a beautiful competition heel.

What is competition heeling? On the surface, it looks like a dog that is walking (or rather, prancing) in cadence with his handler as they walk side by side. But underneath, it's so much more. Heeling is one of my favourite exercises to build in the world of competition dog obedience because teaching mastery of the details is like teaching the intricacies of a highly choreographed ballet between the handler and the dog. Here is where the dog and handler learn to work in perfect harmony with each other. They read and respond to each other's minute body language cues. They move as one with signals that are so subtle that they would seem invisible to all but the most experienced eyes. They're completely attuned to each other's emotions. In order to move with such balance and coordination, the dog also needs to learn a series of skills and movements that require proper muscle conditioning that requires many sessions of dedication and work to achieve. The handler must have the patience and skill to teach their dog, and maintain their high standard of expectations, while keeping it energetic and fun for both of them each practice. While each of these movements are just tiny foundational pieces of the whole picture, even these exercises themselves have required months of muscle memory training and precision work to accomplish. My proudest moment for these students? They're all first time handlers (some first time dog owners) that love and appreciate the relationship and teamwork they've learned to build and foster along the way to these accomplishments with their dogs. After all, if you're not enjoying working to build a better relationship with your dog, and find new, fun, and creative ways to do it, you'll miss out on one of the best experiences (my humble opinion) of owning a dog - creating moments where you're both so present in enjoying your dance together that you can allow the stressors of the world to just melt away, even if it's just 10-20 minutes out of every day, and enjoy just being with your best friend. It's about savoring the dance with your best friend, relishing the experience and building a bond that transcends the ordinary.

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