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Old 11-16-2008, 04:17 PM
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Tazwell Tazwell is offline
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Default Heel Methods

As a Training instructor, I'm a bit unsure of different methods to teach my students a successful Heel...

I've successfully taught Gina and Archie to Heel in the past, using different methods, but what's the easiest way to teach students? I'm looking for easy to learn methods to teach.

The typical way we teach is:

1) teach the dog to sit at your side.
2) teach the dog to sit at your side, walk a few steps, stop, and sit. Completed Heel sequence.
3) gradually increase distance and stimuli.

Other than off-leash heeling, what are some tips and pointers I could use to teach my students, or other methods?

Also, When is the best time to add the command, 'Heel', in your opinion?
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:24 PM
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About the only thing I do differently is that after the dog learns sit in heel position, and of course attention! We move on to one step at a time heeling with attention, praise, reward, release, until the dog is reliable and then on to two steps, etc.

We don't add in the heel command until the dog can do at least 10 to 15 steps of heeling, in position, with focused attention. When the dog can heel long enough for us to edge it in, when he is right, we say good HEEL. I don't start using the heel command to start until the dog is heeling well and reliably with good starts, halts, turns, and changes of pace.

Here is a little heeling with Penny and I. (ignore my instructor, she is talking the person who went before me. )

HEEL ON LEAD
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:25 PM
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Tazwell, if you watch the clip you can see what kind of attention levels I train to, and I also work a lot of position and precision.

I use lots of food rewards and play breaks to keep the dog's interest and enthusiasm levels high.
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:37 PM
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I'm currently teaching Phoebe to heel, I am teaching it as a position and we just started moving with it. I used a touch stick to teach her how to get into position and we don't need the stick anymore, the thing was a godsend!
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:49 PM
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i used a clicker and taught heel as a position relative to me. i taught both of my dogs to heel off lead, and then added the leash later.
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:43 PM
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I taught heel as a position, like the others, but instead of using a touch stick I usually just teach the dogs to touch my hand and use that as a target. With my dogs at work we have a hallway about 25 feet long which I use to start heel work. The first session I just start walking and let the dog come to me, and click when he gets close to the position (use body blocking to keep him on the correct side if needed). If he's staying with me mentally, I'll use my hand touches to teach him to turn with me.... Otherwise I just turn myself and continue capturing him coming to position.

As far as turns, I start with inside turns - the dog is on the inside of the turn, he just pivots to stay in position with me. I use inside turns, even with the most advanced dogs, about 80% of the time, because they're so useful in keeping the dog in position and with his attention on you. Later when you work with distractions you can use the inside turn to break his attention from a distraction if you need to. Anyway, to teach the turns I just use my hand as a target, and click his body movement as he turns with me.

Another thing that's very useful for me is to teach the dog to back up with me. I start with the dog against the wall in heel position, say on my left side. I pick a moment when he's really paying close attention to me, and then I stop and turn my right shoulder (and knee, if needed) into the dog, kind of squeezing him back. I don't touch him, I just get into his space. As soon as he backs up, c/t. Then just fade the body cue, add a verbal cue, and add duration.
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:13 PM
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Another question--

For some dogs, the heel becomes their normal walk, only a bit sloppy. That's not something we really want, right? Should heeling become something only done on cue?


ETA:
It's very difficult for Archie, because of his age, to get in and out of the sitting position on the slippery floor at work. I think I might get rid of the sit in the heel altogether... He won't be a very good demo dog anymore
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Old 11-17-2008, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazwell View Post
For some dogs, the heel becomes their normal walk, only a bit sloppy. That's not something we really want, right? Should heeling become something only done on cue?
I agree, it really depends on the person and what they want their dog to do. Personally, with my dog, she's good at loose leash walking (walking at my side with the leash loose, but free to look around and move a little bit out of heel position), but heel would be more for competitions and "showing off" - nice tight position, eyes on me the entire time, automatic sits, etc. I started to teach her heel, but in the four years I've had her I've never needed it. For loose leash walking, her cue is "let's go" (although it's pretty automatic by now and I only say "let's go" out of habit, I think), and if I want her to heel I would cue "heel."

With my service dogs, though, heel (or truthfully, a loose interpretation of heel) is the only thing they are expected to do. They must stay in a tight position close to the handler, with automatic sits when we stop, not sniffing the ground or anything else; but they don't necessarily have to maintain eye contact. When they are walking a distance on a short leash, they must be in this position. Their cue to walk is "let's go," but again, the cue is probably not needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazwell View Post
ETA:
It's very difficult for Archie, because of his age, to get in and out of the sitting position on the slippery floor at work. I think I might get rid of the sit in the heel altogether... He won't be a very good demo dog anymore
In the three years I taught heel in group classes, I never once used my dog to demo. I explained what the position should look like, in detail, and then used a client's dog to demo what I wanted the class to practice. I did this because: my dog doesn't do a good heel; being a chihuahua it's very hard to see exactly where the dog needs to be, an inch or two makes a huge difference; I'd have to bend way down to hand her a treat..... which is fine in training in the privacy of my own home, but not something I want to do with fifteen people staring at me (inevetably, many of them behind me ). Get rid of the sit if you want to, but maybe try doing the demo with one of the dogs in class and see how that feels for you.
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Old 11-17-2008, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzybeth727 View Post
In the three years I taught heel in group classes, I never once used my dog to demo. I explained what the position should look like, in detail, and then used a client's dog to demo what I wanted the class to practice. I did this because: my dog doesn't do a good heel; being a chihuahua it's very hard to see exactly where the dog needs to be, an inch or two makes a huge difference; I'd have to bend way down to hand her a treat..... which is fine in training in the privacy of my own home, but not something I want to do with fifteen people staring at me (inevetably, many of them behind me ). Get rid of the sit if you want to, but maybe try doing the demo with one of the dogs in class and see how that feels for you.
Actually, that's what I do now... Archie isn't very good with other dogs sometimes, So He doesn't get to come to classes. Only on days where I have none, or very few (I put him in the back during those few classes) I take him in and practice with him and the other dogs.

I think it's easier for people to see that their own dogs can indeed do it, than to see a Trainer's dog and say "He can't do that!"
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:22 PM
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I guess it depends on what your "heel" is for, competition or just for a nice walk
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