Buddy and I entered a heelwork to music competition at a companion dog show recently. I was thrilled – but nervous - to learn that Kate Nicholas, of Kate and Gin, would be judging the competition. They would also be putting on a display of their own doggy dancing too, and I was greatly looking forward to that.
Of course Kate and Gin were fantastic, but I was delighted when Kate awarded us fourth place in the competition. We have only been learning heelwork to music since May this year, and while it has been fun, it has also been hard work. I found clicker training so helpful in conveying to Buddy what I wanted him to do.
One of the advantages of heelwork to music is that you can work to your dog’s strengths. For example if your dog loves weaving through your legs, you include lots of that, and so on. The key is to practice – and watching Kate and Gin is it obvious that they do plenty of that. If Kate and Gin weren’t talking to fans or signing autographs, they were practising. Border Collies are amazing – Gin was prepared to work and work and work, long after I know Buddy would have been fed up and wandering off.
Their devotion to each other and their chosen discipline is impressive. When I interviewed Kate, she told me that she has written a book telling her and Gin’s story, and giving guidance on how to do heelwork to music with your dog. The book is called quite simply Kate and Gin and is published in the UK on October 6th. We have a copy on the way to us, and we are keen to try out Kate’s method on Buddy and Star – I’ll let you know how we get on. Let me know if you try it out too.