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Old 08-30-2006, 11:55 AM
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Default How to teach heel?

I was wondering in you could offer some advice for a friend. She has a one year old dalmation called Conner. I went for a walk with her today and she's having problems teching him to heel. She says he will do it in the garden but not out in the park ect.


I didn't want to offer wrong advice so I thought I'd ask the people of Chaz. How exactly would you train a dog to heel from scratch?



I think one of the main problems is how much stamina he has. He goes for three walks a day but only one of them is off leash with her dad. I'm trying to get her to come to the woods with me as there is a big open field next to it where we could practice on a very long line used for horses but she's hesitant. I'd really like it if we could get him offleash and burn all his energy out. Do you have any suggestions I can give her to improve his recall?


Thanks in advance everyone, I'm going to print this out and give it to her.
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Old 08-30-2006, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
She says he will do it in the garden but not out in the park ect.
Is she talking about a formal heel or a nice, loose leash walking? A nice, loose leash walking is a pre-requisite to heeling. But the same principles to training it can be applied.

For longer distances, it is impractical for a dog to keep up that formal heel and it's an awful lot to ask of him. It takes some real concentration. A formal heel does need to begin in a very low distraction area and gradually be worked into a little more distraction and so on. But short periods are best so you can end on a good note and the dog doesn't tire from that endless, intense concentration. So, out on a pleasure walk, a few minutes here and there of practice is good, but for the bulk of the walk, I'd recommend a loose leash, informal walk.

Heel is a very precise position, with the head or shoulder of the dog even with your thigh. When you come to a stop, the dog learns to sit automatically, still in heel position. This can be taught by using a clicker or the concept. Encourage the dog to come along, patting your thigh, using squeeky fun noises and when he is in the position or even close, mark that with a click or a marker word, "yesssss!" and treat. Of course, if this marker is going to be used to assist in learning, it must be primed. That is...the dog must learn the association between the click and the treat. YOu can read up on clicker training if you like.

At any rate, when the dog is in the right position, reward and reward frequently, every couple of steps. When he lags or forges ahead, give a little time and see if the dog will figure it out. If he doesn't or isn't that focused on getting a treat, a little reminder can be used. "Watch me." That is something that should be taught first thing anyhow. And reward.

Part of the trouble people have is they don't reinforce when the dog is doing the right thing. They wait and wait for him to keep on doing the right thing for a long time. Well, this does not supply enough information. The dog needs lots of reinforcements frequently as he is walking along nicely. This needs lots of practice as it's fairly difficult. We are walking painfully slowly for a dog and he is guessing for a long time what it is we mean. So, lots of reinforcements (tasty treat) to let him know what he's doing is what we like. It can be close to what we want for a while...then up the ante. Shape the behavior into what you ultimately want.

But it's really imporatant to understand that dogs do not generalize well. So, if the dog can do it in they yard, great. The park is a totally different thing. So, gradually move up the hierarchy of distractions. And gradually change contexts of this exercise.

I like to practice with no leash or collar. (if it's in a fenced, safe place) No temptation to yank, force or help the dog into the position. This way, he uses his own head and figures it out, uses a little self control. But you have to use a good motivator.....good treat, a happy voice, make it fun, short sessions a few times a day. Start with lesser value treats at home where it's easy and save the yummier ones for higher distractions.
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:27 PM
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Thankyou so much Doberluv. I realise I used the wrong word, all she want is him to walk nicley on his lead and not pull her arm out. I didn't mean walking with his head next to her thigh, it's my fault for using the word heel. I will pass this information onto her .
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:38 PM
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Great post Dober.

I have a lil different technique that teaches the dog thier zone.
The zone is where you want them to be like at heel.
Do this in a place where there are no distractions.
With a leash and collor or slip lead which ever the dog responds to the best you want to walk in a square. 15ft x 15ft. So you go 15 ft pivet 15 ft pivet ect. This movement keeps the attention of the dog.Just like Dober said if the dog lags a quick pop of the leash to help him keep up. Or if he is pulling same thing pop the leash and say heel. When turning use the command heel. These turns are sharp and come often so it helps dog pay attention to you and learn thier "comfort zone". You pivet your body while popping the leash with the command heel.
Do this both directions in a square pattern. No more than 15 minutes at first as dogs get bored and you loose thier attention. Always end on a good note so a treat at the end or a retrieve if the dog enjoys it would be in order.
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:43 PM
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Thanks Mom, I appreciate it .
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:45 PM
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OOps didnt see your post before mine! I got distracted by the phone in the middle of my post
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:01 PM
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Kase- My guys loosely heel on our way to the park. We only use the formal heel when doing obedience.

I used to do leash pops, actually still do in obedience, because they're required to be that much closer and it's that much more strict, but now with looseleash heeling, (just with Hades because Roxy respects the leash), I stop or walk the other way.

I do stop abruptly often, so he does got a tug on the leash, then I call him back to my side, or in heel positition to sit, then we start walking again. The whole time he's on leash, not dragging my arm out, I talk to him, "Good boy Hades! That's sucha good heel! Your soo good!" and sometimes instead of stopping, if the tension on the leash is just getting a bit too tight for my liking, (so not ripping my arm out of the socket yet) I'll give him a warning, "eht eht", and his ears usually go back and he slows down.

Hope I helped
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:26 PM
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I think it's common for dogs to pull on the leash....not because they're stubborn, defiant, naughty, trying to dominate and control you or lead the pack or any other of that nonsense. It's usually because they're ecstatic to go for a walk. It's like the most fun thing in the world and they can't wait to get on with it. We walk so slowly to their way of thinking. We must be a real drag and a half. LOL.

I think for training, making frequent turns are a great way to keep the dog paying attention like Mom said. If a dog goes out to the end of the leash and there's any tension at all in it, it's going to make him pull more because there's a "law" going on there....the resistance causes the animal to pull against it. (I use to put these clanky thingies around my horse's pasterns which clanked on his hoof. It would cause him to pull up against that, helping him to not drag his feet) LOL. It's sort of the same principle.

So, prevent tension in the leash, stop dead in your tracks and wait for the dog....in a few seconds he'll look back like, "huh? what gives?" He'll tend to come a few steps closer to you, slackening up the leash, at which time you resume walking. So, a combination of zig zagging, right and left turns, turning back and re-tracing the very same boring path, you just took with the same 'ole smells, stopping, frequent sits all helps the dog learn that to get on with the walk, he has to walk "right."

But very important is frequent reinforcement with a treat he really likes and praise... for even a step or two which is nice and every couple of steps which are nice.

I don't do leash pops, but use other means to get the dog to walk in the right area....patting my thigh if he's lagging, encouragement, try to make it a little game, like, "this is fun, don't you know?" LOL. Sometimes when he forges ahead, I'll use a NRM, like "eh" (that's not what I want. Try this instead) and follow with showing him what I want. And then lots of reward for no tension in the leash. (oh...did I already mention lots of reinforcement?)LOL.

He soon will figure out what gets him the reward. And that pulling not only doesn't get him any treats/praise, but it also doesn't get him where he's going. (make sure the treats are tiny....pea sized or the dog will get fat and cut back a tad on his dinner.)

Consistancy is really important...not to take one single step with tension in the leash. It's been working for him up to now, so he'll keep trying for a while, but if she keeps on with the "rules," he'll get onto it. Dogs do what works and after lots of consistancy and reinforcement for the correct response, he'll do what works some more.

Again....starting in the fenced yard (if it is a fenced yard) it's a lot of fun to practice with no leash at all, make it a game that the dog walks along...nothing to pull against. I'll take a treat in my right hand and when I'm about to turn, swoop my arm down with the treat in front of him and pivot around with my whole body....making a big production out of it and making happy, quick, repetative noises, like, "let's go, let's go" really fast to get him to keep up with me and follow around the turn with me. It's like a game and then as the dog completes the turn, he gets the treat. Then I'll go along and practice, "watch me" a few times, maybe throw in some sits and stays, maybe a few fetches....just mix it up. Training should be a game and not so serious. IMO. It keeps the dog's interest up and makes him think. That's why I personally prefer to not use the leash corrections and such. I don't know.....my Dobe walks very nicely now on a leash. He use to think he was setting out for the Ididerod when he was a pup. He also has a lovely, precise heel. I didn't use leash pops at all. I used a clicker and shaped the behavior to exactly where I wanted him. In fact, I didn't use a leash. So, I couldn't have popped it if I wanted to. LOL. Then we added the leash just to keep him use to it.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:34 PM
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I have tried that Dobe and maybe I am not patient enough or something but it has only worked for me with one dog. Leash corrections have worked the best and have been the most efficient way of gettin my dogs to heel.
Now I can pat my leg and play with it cause they know what I want and are happy to do it. Or I will stop and wait for them to re-heel. I might pat my leg or get a lower voice to show that I am not please and my dogs are happy to obey.

There are so many different ways to train. Each person has to keep in mind each individual dog and what is working best.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:55 PM
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Thankyou so much everybody , I'm going to send her the link to this.
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