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How do you teach HEEL?

4207 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Bob Scott
Aside from my method (which is wait until the dog does it by mistake and then praise like a lunatic; it does work, btw, once I've taught \"don't pull\" :lol: ), how do others teach an adult with bad manners (rescue, etc.) to heel?

I keep a loose lead always, and then command, and do a fast turn if he didn't heel, or praise if he did, and I also praise after he does it even if it's a heel that's forced by my turn.

For a laggard (not my usual experience), I keep on moving and expecting him to follow -- no attention except maybe a quick tiny attention-getting leash tug. But no pulling, no looking back, no discussion.

Again, though, I've had way more pullers than laggards.

Other/better ideas?
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P.S. Sniff, have fun, pee, etc., happen only when released from heel, which for me is standing still and saying \"OK!\" and letting them have the length of the lead.
I work on focus from the basic (sit at heel) position. Until I have good attetion, I don't even take one step. When the focus is solid, I take ONLY one step, then stop, with a sit command. Obviously, the sit command should be solid also.
Taking baby steps is the key to ANY training. Break everything down to as many pieces you can. Extra steps, right turn, left turn, about turn, are all taught as individual exercises. It's so much easier (enjoyable) then taking off and yanking and cranking on the dog.
Once the dog REALLY knows what is wanted, I have no problem with a correction for noncompliance.
Kind a like Bob, but sit isn´t required. If the dog focusses on me (with help of ball or biting roll), i take a step, reward, 2 steps, reward etc. After the dog understand this a bit, the reward goes into my pocket and rewarding is diffrent, sometimes at 2 steps, sometimes 15 etc.

Heeling is the required kind on the field, at home they can pull as much as they like or they are running loose :wink:
Selena, good point about the at home being different from on the field. Formal vs normal. At home, a simple \"walk easy\" means the dog doesn't have to be like a little soldier, but just stay withing 5-6 ft of me.
Bob Scott said:
Selena, good point about the at home being different from on the field. Formal vs normal. At home, a simple \"walk easy\" means the dog doesn't have to be like a little soldier, but just stay withing 5-6 ft of me.

Oh. I actually do require a pretty close heel, but LOTS of releases to sniff and stuff. Maybe I should re-think..........

The next time I teach \"heel,\" it will definitely be with Bob's one-step method. I like that.

Since basic Ob makes all special training easier (not to mention making regular life easier), I'm glad we are doing this! :D
We didn't do this on purpose or anything, but our dog actually has two separate commands: fuss, and heel.

Fuss we taught with an over the shoulder leash (I believe they're K9 leashes? correct me if i\"m wrong) and his ball on a rope. Hubby holds the ball at his hip, just out of reach of the dog, on his left side and of course pup is glued to him as they walk. He kept treats in the other pocket and kept saying, \"Good fuss,\" as he'd treat the dog like crazy. So fuss is a tight heel. Now he does it just for the ball...

When we're out on leash and I just want him to walk nicely, we use heel. He knows it means I want him to walk on my left side at my pace without sniffing the ground, walking to one side or the other, or stopping. We're still working on it, and of course it only works when he isn't barking his fool head off (see \"Raising a Working Puppy\" section). In fact, we gotta get hot on this one b/c we've really let it go...
If the dog has great food drive, I love this method....

Starting when the dog is very young (2-3 months if possible) we teach the foundation with food. I've taught it to older dogs as well. With the food in the left hand (leash over the right shoulder) you get the dog to lick at the food/nibble it (praising of course). You manipulate the food so that the dog is in a correct heel position, head up looking at you. I don't wait too long before I start taking steps...if the dog is really keen on the food, you can do several steps and introduce the sit as well. The important part is that the hand position keeps the dog correct and that the handler keeps praising the dog. I also introduce the command \"fuss\" at the same time. I haven't had trouble throwing all the behaviors together because usually the dog is so intense on the food, it doesn't realize its moving or sitting! Dogs with less intensity for the food, I go slower and don't require as much.

This teaches the heel position. When the dog is nursing on the food for several steps and coming to a sit (food is given to reward the sit) .... then I start moving the food alittle further away. So the dog takes 1-2 steps with the food an inch away and then stop, sit, reward.

Then you come to a point where you have to bridge the absense of visible food with corrections.

Usually when the food disappears, the dog wants to look away or do something else. At this point the dog has had several weeks of learning the position so when he looks away, you give a jerk on the leash and a \"fuss\" command. If the foundation is correct, the dog will look at you because that is the position that resulted in praise/food/etc. When the dog makes eye contact,... \"ah, good boy, good fuss\" ... everything is happy again.

Some dogs resist the corrects and back up. A few good corrections and the dog will eventually realize that backing up doesn't work they jump forward. When they jump forward and make that eye contact (compulsion = trying the last successful behavior which was their foundation of looking up and everything was happy) .... when that eye contact and position is hit, you give praise and all the corrections go away.

Its basic escape training but its not as bad as negative as it sounds. Most dogs don't need all the corrections. I taught a 3 month old Rottie puppy nice happy, upbeat attention heeling with this method but he had a lot of drive for food/praise. Same thing with a GSD puppy .... 5 months old he was making beautiful attention heeling.

Dogs that don't have the drive or attention for the food, I use a toy in place. Food is better because you can manipulate the dog more. With dogs that have high prey drive, their position tends to go out of wack when they go into drive.

Anyways, this is what has worked well for the dogs I've taught it to. My only complaint is that after the bridging with corrections, like my competition dog's head position isn't as high as when she was getting the food. She attention heels but she more looks across my body with her eyes up, versus her head straight up. May be handler error or maybe because she is a lazy Rottweiler :)

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What a good and detailed post.

This obedience section is going GREAT, you guys.
here's a question for all y'all:

i have a 7 mo old GSD, i've only been using motivational methods (mark behaviors with treats) for OB b/c ultimately he'll be SCH trained.

now, i've started requiring the basic position ("by-heel") before we go out the door, and at random times after our play times (to burn off energy) and in the house, in conjunction w/"sit", "platz", "come here".

i find myself "leading" him, making encouraging noises and telling him "come here"--which to him means a close front (and he's good at it!!), adjusting myself to him so he gets the treat, --i'm driving MYSELF NUTS!!!!

so, i'm thinking: keep your mouth SHUT, stay in *my* position, let him "find" the position that he gets the reward, mark the correct position w/treat, etc. sounds good right? well, how long should i screw around for him to *find* the correct position?

also, he's food-driven ok, but he's WAY more ball/tug driven. should i keep trying different treats at this point, as he gets into drive (and i'm slow) w/his ball/tug, in seconds. remember--i'm just teaching the basic position. so stay w/treats until the position is solid? i do have access to a club, but they're kinda far away, so most of this i do on my own.

since he was 12 wks old, i've been marking "fuss" when he looks at me. so "fuss" to him means "look at mama's eyes", so i want to separate the basic position (by-heel) from "fuss".

so, help me!! he's smarter than i am probably--if even I can tell my screw-ups, you can bet he's all over them!
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I teach heel as "position on my leg", not focus. No matter where my left leg is, the dog must be parallel to it and shoulder high. Once the dog is going to the position from wherever reliably, I start to move sideways, around, backwards, forwards ONE step...
When that's done, I start longer distances.
So you mean just everyday heel?

I do (now) position the dog at first, praising/treating when it's right and not starting to move until the positioning is right. I use the leg-slap for the heel signal to heel.

I'm not clear on whether you're having a challenge getting the dog in the correct heel position to step off, or staying in the correct position while walking.

I do exactly what Andres describes once the dog reliably assumes the heel position -- one step. Bob Scott pointed this out earlier in the thread. Works very well, as most tiny-part-of-command breakdowns do. One step in different directions. Two steps. Two steps in different directions. So on.

I'm talking regular old heel rather than competition heeling. :D
Anne said;
i find myself "leading" him, making encouraging noises and telling him "come here"--which to him means a close front (and he's good at it!!), adjusting myself to him so he gets the treat, --i'm driving MYSELF NUTS!!!!

Well, you know part of what your doing wrong. Now, STOP THAT!! :wink:

As Andres said, he teaches a position. That's all this is is another position.
There's nothing wrong with baiting a 7 month old pup into a new position. If your a compulsion trainer you may guide the pup by leash. Either way, it's another position.
It also sound like your teachin eye contact as the fuss position might have been a step in the wrong direction. Was the pup ALWAYS in good fuss position when the marker was given? If not, you may have taught that fuss means "Asl long as I'm looking, I get a reward" NOT "sitting here next to mom. with her stainding straight and her eye's looking forward meands good things are comming".
Be patient. Your working with a puppy. Go back to basics and teach the correct position, then GRADUALLY teach the dog that it may have to take a step or so to get into the position.
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ok, at this point i'm simply trying to train him that the "by-heel" command means to assume the basic position. no steps, nothing, simply come to my left leg and sit.

i've done virtually no compulsion training--just marking w/rewards. so i think i'll just keep on luring, then marking. AND keeping my big mouth shut until it's time for the command/mark/treat. also discovered that working him w/a wall to my left naturally helps him sit straight. so that's our goal for this week.

connie, it's for beginning competition heeling, but also down the road, recall finishes, and everyday heeling. just getting him into the position to start.

bob, you're right about the fuss command. one of the people in the club i go to occasionally (and will probably end up joining), encouraged me to mark fuss as looking in my eyes, so i did, and now he's good at it no matter where he is. so, i'm going to leave that one alone until i get the basic position, then we'll work in fuss before we take that first step off.

at least that's the plan :lol: i think a really good treat is my beginning point here. thanks for the feedback!! :)
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Sounds like a good plan. The looking into the eyes is ideal for most all we do with our sport dogs but it still boils down to being in the correct position when they get the marker and reward. The look is just an added part of sport position.
That lovingly stairing into our eyes is for the sport field. I love it! Always will..for sport! it earns points
If I ever see a street K9 foosing on patrol, while lovingly looking into his handlers eyes, I'm gonna slap him.........Welll not really. :D :D :D :wink:
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