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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 07-09-2008, 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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Old 07-09-2008, 04:39 PM
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borzoimom, you describe a perfect way to teach your dog NOT to heel. I find it ridiculous to recommend Koeler jerk and puke "training methods" to be used on a TEN weeks old PUPPY. Heeling is a precision exercise that demands a dog know many elements before beginning movement and naming "heel".

I'm pretty interested in exactly what the "something" is that you add in "to perfect the heel where they should be."

The word "heel" should be spoken only when a dog is in exact heel position and moving with attention and head up, as you don't want a dog to hear the name of any behavior unless they are DOING IT, when they are learning.

For the OP:

There are many basic elements of heeling you can work on in bits with your puppy.

You can work on attention. Start with the LOOK GAME. I call this No Lookie No Cookie.

You can start this game VERY young. Puppies will quickly learn to make eye contact to get a reward. Start by showing the pup you have delicious bait in both hands. Then close your hands, and stand naturally with your arms by your side. Ignore anything the puppy does as far as getting the food out of your hands, and wait for the puppy to look at your face.

At the FIRST GLANCE at your face, SMILE VERY BIG, say YES!!! and dish out several treats, alternating hands. (left, right, left, right...as the puppy is taking the treats, contniue praise. Then start again. Most puppies will look again QUICKLY. After just a few reps, most puppies will learn that what is getting the cookie is eye contact.

When you get to this point, the game is on. Once they learn this, I begin various distractions, such as holding the treats out with my hands where they can see them, or turning to make the puppy come "find my eyes" to get the treat.

No lookie, no cookie.

We work up to stronger and stronger distractions.

No lookie, no cookie.

When the puppy is really working to make eye contact with you, start saying the puppy's name each time he looks.

You can also shape or capture heel position in much the same way. Any time you can, get in heel position with the puppy, and mark with YES, and treat. Anytime the puppy comes up to you and sits anywhere close to your left side, mark with YES and treat.

Meanwhile, look for a good positive reward based training class. Nothing will be more important for your puppy's future as a working dog than intensive socialization during the first 18 months of life. By the time your pup is 5 months old, you want him to have been EVERYWHERE and, and have him interact with as many different people in as many different places as possible.
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