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Old 10-24-2013, 12:18 PM
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Elrohwen Elrohwen is offline
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Default Heeling Help

I need help with heeling. Specifically, how to go from "left side walking with attention", to a formal heel on cue.

Right now, Watson has a decent grasp of the heel position while in motion. I can walk around our field and he will catch up and find the correct position on his own. Reward, release, repeat. He is getting better at turns and sticking with me. At this point, I don't have a formal heel cue other than "let's go", which I use for more casual situations as well. I've been avoiding adding a cue until I know what I'm doing, so I don't mess it up. So it's really "left side walking with attention" at this point.

I have done a little perch/platform work. He will gladly put his front feet on an object, and I can lure him around either way while he front feet stay on the platform. Where do we go from here? I'm not sure how to turn this into something more useful. I guess I need to get him automatically turning with me, instead of having to lure it.

Finally, I spend a lot of time helping/luring him find heel position at the start of an exercise (like beginning a practice rally course, for example). How do I teach him to find the position on his own when I'm stationary? We are working on finishes, so do I just keep perfecting a finish and use that? Or can I get "heel" on cue to the point where he can find heel position no matter what position he was previously in?

So where do I go from here? Everything I read seems to tell me what the final behavior should look like, but not the smaller steps to get there beyond the very simple beginnings which we've already done. We've done a lot of obedience classes, but they haven't addressed this and we don't have anything that focuses on heeling specifically. I feel like we have some of the pieces, but I don't know how to put them together.
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Last edited by Elrohwen; 10-24-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:40 PM
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I taught heeling totally separate from LLW. I started with the perch/pivot. Moved to the wall, played find the left leg, went from food to the ball...anyway, its all on Kastle's channel, you can search for "heeling" or "obedience". He learned the perch as a teeny puppy so he got weaned off pretty quickly. I'm teaching Robin and Limit the same way (less videos though). I'm a very firm believer in muscle memory so I do the same repetitive thing 100million times before we trial.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE164BD30BB8D6988

This is where we are now (you can ignore after the first little bit, the rest is retrieves/send out) - which I am really enjoying the look of. Keep in mind, this is IPO/Schutzhund heeling, not AKC.



I am going to tone the hopping down some...and most dogs probably won't be this insane.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elrohwen View Post
How do I teach him to find the position on his own when I'm stationary?

We are working on finishes, so do I just keep perfecting a finish and use that?

Or can I get "heel" on cue to the point where he can find heel position no matter what position he was previously in?

So where do I go from here?
More specific answers...

First lure him, once he's easy to lure, then say the command and lure, then say the command and use a little less of a lure. So if before you were jamming your whole hand in his face and swinging him into your side, try a hand gesture mimicking that and not the whole thing. What finish are you doing? Flip, tear drop, around the back?

Absolutely! I can put Kastle in a down, holler his heel command and have him run to me and then flip into heel. It's super fun (and it took FOREVER and loads of repetition to train!).

Sounds like you have a great foundation, you just need to up the ante on what he does on his own without the lure
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FG167 View Post
More specific answers...

First lure him, once he's easy to lure, then say the command and lure, then say the command and use a little less of a lure. So if before you were jamming your whole hand in his face and swinging him into your side, try a hand gesture mimicking that and not the whole thing. What finish are you doing? Flip, tear drop, around the back?

Absolutely! I can put Kastle in a down, holler his heel command and have him run to me and then flip into heel. It's super fun (and it took FOREVER and loads of repetition to train!).

Sounds like you have a great foundation, you just need to up the ante on what he does on his own without the lure
Really good to know I'm on the right track! I think I just need to devote more time to it at home, in really small steps, and remove the lure a bit. Running around a field and changing direction is much more fun, so that's what I've done the most of, but I need to get some of the details in order and link it up.

For finishes, I'm working on "around" right now, but haven't put enough work into it to have it on cue. I'm afraid to use it in class because he might decide to go behind me and then just keep on going. lol But he's getting the idea.

More typically I do what I think you're calling a "teardrop" - sort of a lure around to the left, back a bit, and bring him up in heel position. If he's focused he will do this on a flat hand lure, but I have to use food too often when he's all over the place. I'd like to get this really on cue too since he knows the basic movement now, and stop luring so much. I love the look of the swing finish, but I think I need to focus on the easier stuff first and get at least one of those solid.

I would love to just say heel and have him get into position from wherever he is. That sounds awesome. I guess we just have a lot more repetition, and I have to add the actual cue at some point and stop being afraid I'm going to mess it up.

I'll check out some of your videos. Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:01 PM
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Falon, can I just ship you Cohen for you to polish up her heeling for me? Pretty please?
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:48 PM
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Everything Falon said, I used a teardrop with Backup and did all of his heeling with a face focus head wrap. I'm looking for a flip finish with a high chin and I'm debating a face focus vs an armpit focus with Phelan.

This is mostly targeting/send out and send arounds but you'll see where I'm doing some heeling luring and ever so slightly fading the lure, I won't however truly fade the lure until I like his position enough. He's still a baby which means flaily and uncoordinated so I'd like him to have a lure to focus on while his body grows into itself. Every so often I test the pivoting into position with an empty hand lure, once there I heavily reward, when I love it I'll name it and then as Falon said, test it and help it if he's having trouble.

Basically, repetition and fading.

http://youtu.be/qcv0QRWoQ4o
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:52 AM
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Just watched some of your videos and wow! Amazing. I love how in some of them he pauses with his front feet suspended, like a dressage horse doing the passage. So athletic and so much focus. I'd be happy with Watson just being reasonably in heel position and paying attention to me.

So where should I ship Watson for his heel training? He can be next in line after Cohen.
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianneIsabel View Post
Everything Falon said, I used a teardrop with Backup and did all of his heeling with a face focus head wrap. I'm looking for a flip finish with a high chin and I'm debating a face focus vs an armpit focus with Phelan.

This is mostly targeting/send out and send arounds but you'll see where I'm doing some heeling luring and ever so slightly fading the lure, I won't however truly fade the lure until I like his position enough. He's still a baby which means flaily and uncoordinated so I'd like him to have a lure to focus on while his body grows into itself. Every so often I test the pivoting into position with an empty hand lure, once there I heavily reward, when I love it I'll name it and then as Falon said, test it and help it if he's having trouble.

Basically, repetition and fading.

http://youtu.be/qcv0QRWoQ4o
I like how you're using your open hand as a target and lure. I use that sometimes to get him into position, but I haven't had luck getting him to follow it so tightly. I think that's something we could work on.


Another question: how do I get him to keep going after a reward? This is something we have always struggled with and it took me a couple weeks to train him that a reward during a stay doesn't mean the stay is over. Often when I reward heeling after a couple steps, he will consider it a release, whether I've actually released him or not. This isn't really a problem in the kitchen where he's focused, but it's a big problem outside or in obedience class.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:09 AM
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Variable rate of reinforcement and incorporating a release into the heel.

Surprise him with another 2-5 treats after the first one while continuing your behaviour. Pretty soon he'll figure out that the game doesn't end at the first treat. And a dog should continue to actively heel until he hears your say-so, so make sure you use a release so he doesn't get into the habit of releasing himself.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
Variable rate of reinforcement and incorporating a release into the heel.

Surprise him with another 2-5 treats after the first one while continuing your behaviour. Pretty soon he'll figure out that the game doesn't end at the first treat. And a dog should continue to actively heel until he hears your say-so, so make sure you use a release so he doesn't get into the habit of releasing himself.
I do use a verbal release, which he understands, and have started to use a "go sniff" cue as a reward. The problem is when he thinks the treat is also a release. I try to also say the verbal release when I know he'll release himself anyway, but then we don't get anywhere.

I've tried just continuing to walk after the treat and he will self-release, then eventually come back and focus, but we can get caught in this behavior chain of him releasing, coming back, getting another treat, releasing, etc.

Sometimes I try to rapidly deliver another treat before he can wander off, and that can work, but then he'll just release himself after that one. Maybe I need to do a ton of rapid fire rewards right in a row and see if he'll stick with me. This is basically how I taught him to take rewards during a stay, but it took some frustrating weeks where he just didn't get it.

Indoors he totally gets it because he's focused and engaged and wants to keep heeling, but outside he's like "Thanks for the treat! I'm gonna sniff now." I do vary my rate of reinforcement, but we can go 1 step or 5 steps and he'll still run off to sniff as soon as I deliver it most of the time, so I just work up to longer and longer runs of heeling (like 10-20 steps) without a treat because I don't want to him to disengage, but then I feel like I'm missing the chance to reward really great moments and just rewarding for longer runs of mediocre heeling.

It's frustrating. I feel like we go in circles on this issue with every duration behavior. I think he learned that the click ends the behavior (or the verbal marker) and he holds me to it. haha
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Last edited by Elrohwen; 10-25-2013 at 08:34 AM.
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