I've had a breakthrough that I can't really take credit for.
Let me start by saying, my dogs are not picky. I can feed them virtually anything treat wise, they will eat it. I can feed them any food, they will eat it. I know something is wrong if someone refuses food - because unless they are sick none of my dogs would ever skip a meal! That being said, I typically use kibble or soft treats that are easily broken up into pieces when doing any sort of training.
I've been really frustrated with both Seth and Seppel's heeling. It's been an even bigger problem during trials because they are both uninterested and lack luster in their performances. Lately I have felt that their lack of motivation has transferred into our training sessions. Some of it is me - I have never trained a focus heel in my entire life and other than one advanced obedience class, I am self taught. I just got home from a road trip, on that trip I was able to meet several internet dog friends. One of those friends offered up some training suggestions. One of those suggestions was to feed a higher value treat.
I try really hard not to anthropomorphize my dogs. While I understand the idea of 'doing something' and being 'paid' properly, since my dogs are really not picky I thought what I was doing was adequate.
I was wrong!
Yesterday I cut up some cheese to use for training bait. Both Seth and Seppel were super excited about it and were a lot more animated and willing to do what I asked of them. Today I went to the pet store and got some dehydrated chicken feet. I wish I had taken video [I'll get some soon]. Seth was VERY motivated to work! Moreso than I have seen in a long, long time. I have had issues with him lagging when in heel position and nothing I tried would speed him up. He was extremely excited for the chicken foot and was a lot quicker! I tried the same thing with Seppel, only using it to practice going over the jump for our upcoming trial on Friday, same thing for him - extremely motivated.
I can honestly say that my dogs while not picky, do seem to respond to better rewards! I'm excited to see where this takes our heeling progress. I am also going to try some other things like chicken or other meat so I can rotate the rewards I use and hopefully keep them interested!