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Old 07-09-2008, 10:11 AM
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Default Best Way to Teach Heel?

Since I plan to have Sawyer as a service dog I want him to have a good strong heel. I would like to train him without treats as well. So far I have him used to sitting at the door and waiting for me to walk out and invite him before stepping in or out of the house. I have him where he can do a slight heal but it needs work. He is only 10 weeks old so he's a bit bouncy but he is learning. I want to work on his heel and then once I feel good about it take him up the road to the shopping plaza and socialize him there a few times a week.

Also anyone who has trained Service dogs im all open for tips and advice.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:05 AM
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Why without treats? Will you use toys? If you don't use treats you will have to use aversives. Personally I find food the easiest way to teach a really strong heel.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:07 AM
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I was told to try and not use treats....I don't know. He doesent really care about treats.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:20 AM
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One thing I would suggest is to not wait for him to be able to heel before taking him to the shopping plaza. He needs to be out in public, seeing things, exposed to things and he needs it at the age he's at now.

For the heeling, I think he's too young to really worry abou tit just yet start with teaching him to look at you (unless that's counter productive for the Sd training) and teach him a LLW - with a different command (with me, let's go).

Play chase with him where you run away and he does the chasing. I do get that SD's shouldn't be dependent on treats and toys, but I don't think it would be a problem if you used minimal treats as rewards. I've seen a number of SD's that are trained with food. As they progress in their training, the use of food is minimized or eliminated.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:27 AM
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And if you use some marker (clicker training) you don't need to lure at all, simply click and treat when he falls in the heel position.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:12 PM
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if he doesn't like treats, what does he like? what motivates him?
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:21 PM
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Praise.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:21 PM
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At 10 weeks, you shouldn't be worrying about a heel yet. Work on getting and keeping his attention. Once you have focus, then you can start working on other commands. One thing I wish I had done when teaching heel- treat is as a position, not as an action. Heel means right here by my side. If I walk, you walk. If I turn, you turn. If I go backwards, you go backwards. If I move side to side, you move with me.

I was a no treat trainer- using a ball or tug. Then I found that treats really did work because you can keep the dog training and treat as you go- not stopping to play as a reward. Now I use the ball or tug as a break out reward after a series of tasks is complete.

Training with treats doesn't mean you have to treat all the time, and it doesn't mean you have to walk around with treats in your pockets for the rest of your life. Treat a lot while the dog is learning, then vary the frequency to keep them guessing, and you can gradually phase the treats out.
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanL View Post
At 10 weeks, you shouldn't be worrying about a heel yet. Work on getting and keeping his attention. Once you have focus, then you can start working on other commands. One thing I wish I had done when teaching heel- treat is as a position, not as an action. Heel means right here by my side. If I walk, you walk. If I turn, you turn. If I go backwards, you go backwards. If I move side to side, you move with me.

I was a no treat trainer- using a ball or tug. Then I found that treats really did work because you can keep the dog training and treat as you go- not stopping to play as a reward. Now I use the ball or tug as a break out reward after a series of tasks is complete.

Training with treats doesn't mean you have to treat all the time, and it doesn't mean you have to walk around with treats in your pockets for the rest of your life. Treat a lot while the dog is learning, then vary the frequency to keep them guessing, and you can gradually phase the treats out.
Excellent post - I originally only wanted to emphasize heeling as a position but couldn't bring myself to remove the rest because it is all well said!

IMO, for a service dog you need a dog that knows heel as a position rather than having a competitive type heel... While "eyes glued to your face" has a time and place, it should not be what you need/expect from a service dog all the time (its an unnatural position to start and causes a lot of strain but depending on what you are expecting from your service dog, its better that he knows to stay at your side and be aware of his environment).

My Mum has a pretty serious hearing loss so originally, I was going to train Dodger as a hearing aid dog BUT he's just not built for it (I need a terrier!).. Instead and more out of boredom than anything he learned service dog behaviours to help with mobility (opening/closing doors, switching on/off lights, retrieving and carrying various items by name, helping with laundry, acting as a brace, getting help, delivering items, targeting buttons/items out of my reach etc...)

Certification is the tricky part - I know a few people who have simply ordered a vest and sewed on patches without any kind of accreditation... Training service dog behaviours is one thing but your dog also needs to have a perfect temperment, not to mention be in perfect health and UTD on shots... Traing your own service dog is easy - its being accountable when out in public that is the bigger responsibility IMO.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:27 PM
borzoimom borzoimom is offline
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Well having therapy dogs and not service dogs but at least I can tell you how I train heel.. You start walking with the dog on your left. Dogs name "heel".. and start walking at a good clip but not too fast. ie the speed of the breed you have.. As soon as the dog forges forward, I do an abrupt about turn, heading in the opposite direction.. This is the beginning- do not forge ahead or behind.. Once you get this down, then I add something to perfect the heel where they should be. IN a heel the dogs shoulder should be at your leg. Not only does this teach not to pull but also to watch you. As soon as the dog gets back in the right position- verbal praise ( calm to keep concentration- ie ' good boy..."..) Keep training sessions short- and always best to end on a good note.
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