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Quick Heel Question

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D'artagnan

I'm not lazy,- I'm just waiting- to play..
 
 
Barked: Tue Nov 6, '12 5:02pm PST 
So I am trying to get Dar to be really good at Heel. Specifically a heel, not loose leash walking. He is getting pretty good (he heeled past a group of horses at the beach and I had no treats at all), BUT he will randomly get distracted by a smell on the ground. It doesn't matter where we are training or length of heel. If he smells something he really likes he will stop. Its not constant or a lot or he would still be training on a leash. But I want this to be solid as possible; in case of emergency I don't want to cross a street and have him stop in the middle. So right now I just call him back to heel. Sometimes I give him a treat when he comes back and sometimes I make him heel a little bit more then give him a treat. But what is the best way to make him keep going? So far doing what what I have hasn't seemed to change much. Any ideas to teach he can't stop?

Thanks!
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Tue Nov 6, '12 5:15pm PST 
I would just keep building value for the heel position.
Feed him numerous small pieces of food while in the heel position (without moving) and then release him to go and sniff (or whatever) and practice this in as many locations as possible.

This worked really well for me (as did using the Give Me A Break game from Control Unleashed) as when I first started teaching Rexy to heel outside, it was all I could do to keep Rexy's nose off the ground. Might be a little trickier for you as your pup is so much closer to the source of the delicious smells. smile

Any chance the sniffing is because he is a little stressed? Especially if you've just heeled past something super distracting (like horses)...
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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 2:59am PST 
You know, that is exactly why I say focus is the most important part of heelwork. And I think you probably need to break it down, split it out and work on that focus as a separate component.
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Zephyr

1213425
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 11:27am PST 
I don't know what your requirements are for a heel but a focused heel is one of the hardest things to do correctly. It's also one of the more boring things for your dog to do. Presuming he understands what heel position is and is proofed to the point that heeling for the length of time your walk is, you've probably added in too many distractions for it to be a realistic expectation as of right now. That style of heel is built in steps, not leaps. Ten perfect steps of heel in any environment can take months.

If you want to get there faster, mixing it up and adding some heeling games usually brings some spark back into it and can motivate the disinterested or distracted dog. Pushing the dog away from you is a good one. Spins and flips and backing up while in heel position will keep their brains engaged. Look up 'heeling games' to practice and you'll get some ideas.
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 12:28pm PST 
To add to Zephyr's post about expectations I started teaching Rexy a formal heel (for rally) in January of this year and it took me weeks to get the beginnings of a decent heel inside and then a few months to be successful in the back yard, and a few weeks more for the more distracting front yard. Precise turns, pivots, fronts and finishes took months (and I am still polishing up her fronts).

Only now, about 10 months later, can I reliably get a lovely heads-up, prancy heel (off-leash) on the agility practice field and anywhere on my property, out in public is still a work-in-progress but we're getting there.

Granted, Rexy and I are likely slower than average as this is the first time I have taught a dog to heel, and since I am working with a reactive girl, I'm having to deal with distractability and high environmental awareness.

Now that she understands the game though, it's gotten much easier and it's a lot of fun. Her reward is her favourite ball, so she thinks heeling is pretty awesome. smile
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Zephyr

1213425
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 12:41pm PST 
Ha. Rexy your timeline is not unlike mine. I probably started Zephyr's formal heeling in January or February? Position took me maybe 2 weeks before she knew the bucket drill and then teaching it off the bucket was like a whole new world. After that it was tweaking her position with reward location for another month or so. If she focused without me asking she'd be rewarded but it wasn't a necessary criterion until I asked for it. Then it was 3 steps at a time absolutely everywhere. Currently she'll heel well just about anywhere. We had an issue at the local jazz festival (Loud and a lot of surging people) but I just reduced expectations and by the end she was good.

She gets a windshield wiper thing going with her head in new places so she can see what's going on. Once I free her and let her wander it goes away or if I can get her tug but it's always a work in progress. (It's actually why the club runs monthly heeling seminars for touch-ups etc)
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 8:34pm PST 
Nice to know that my timeline isn't way out to lunch. smile

I spent a fair bit of time shaping Rexy's pedestal work...amazing the amount of difference it has made to her left turns and pivots. Her hind end awareness has grown in leaps and bounds since last winter (and it wasn't bad to begin with).

I think I need to go back and re-train just for heel position in more distracting areas and see how she does, and then progress to just a few steps. Having that level of focus on me (and not scanning the environment) is stressful for her, so we are taking it slowly.
For quite a long time, she had an annoying habit of eating her treat, and then immediately dropping her head to sniff and tuning me out. The CU game helped to ease her stress level and allow her to focus better and so I rarely see the head drop and sniff anymore.

It's surprising how much fun this sort of precision work is (I have turned into a bit of a training nerd!). I started teaching Rexy swing finishes and right-side heeling a few weeks ago just to keep things interesting.
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ATCH Tika RA- CL3

Mine?
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 7, '12 11:29pm PST 
I had a good heel with Tika, but recently started platform training and have seen a huge improvement in her heeling and ability to find and stay in the position. I lucked out into getting the DVD (Step Up to Platform Training by Michele Pouliot) from a friend and loved the concept. Platform training is big with musical freestyle people and they have gorgeous heeling and positions so I figured it couldn't hurt.

I had already done a lot of perch work, but found it not as precise for positioning. I trained my platforms with a sit instead of a stand as that is what my goal is, I may retrain to a stand someday, but I like the sit and it is working well for us as I do have hopes to get a few obedience titles.

Platforms are a ton of fun too, I made two more to work my other dogs in standing positions and they are having a blast with it as well.

I sadly haven't done enough of this kind of training to fully describe it, but there are some good YouTube videos out there.
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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 5:32am PST 
Heelwork boring? Oh, when done right it is like two bodies with one soul. It 's beautiful.
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Zephyr

1213425
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 10:20am PST 
Finicky competiton OB is my favorite. I love the precision and the expectations and the different methods for training are fascinating.

And yes, it's very easy to make heelwork boring especially when spacing out your rewards. I have to train steps at a time between play sessions.
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