Heeling 1

By admin Posted in Basics /

General.
The main feature of the “Heel” exercise is the ability of the dog to work with its handler as a team. “Heel” means, “remain in this position.” The dog’s attention must be on the handler and he must not smell the ground as he would on a casual walk.

Attention getting:
The first thing you need to do before you can do any form of dog training is to get the dog’s attention. It is also the most difficult thing to achieve. A dog with poor concentration is one that looks around as he walks, sniffs at all sorts of things and generally gives the impression that he is not really interested in training. It is important that the dog be taught to concentrate and for that to happen the dog must be in a place where it will feel relaxed and there are no distractions at all! The ideal place would be indoors in a spare room or in the garage. Less favourable would be the garden or driveway. Worst place to train attention is the dog training club. However, that is the place where you learn about training methods for your dog and where you return for proofing and strengthening the reliability of the dog’s response. Repeated corrections for being distracted will soon create stress and resentment in any dog.

Rewards:
A reward is not a bribe because it is given in recognition of performance achieved and not in anticipation of it. A reward is anything a dog desires and for which he is prepared to work. Until a dog has learnt an exercise satisfactorily, he should be rewarded every time for all improvements he makes towards that exercise.

Step 1: Getting the dog to concentrate while you move. Use food, to begin with. Pieces must be small enough to be hidden in your fist. Prepare about twenty titbits per session. Get the dog to sit on lead and: (1) Show him the tidbit in your hand and when those brown eyes lock onto the food, say, ”Yes” in an excited tone of voice as you treat the dog. (2) Next introduce the “Watch” or “Watch me” command before giving the food. (3) Gently tug on the lead as you praise the dog for paying good attention. This teaches the dog that the lead can be associated with something pleasant and not to be seen as a correction for having done something wrong. (4) Start moving to the left and the right of the dog so that he has to turn his head as he follows your movements.

When all the food has been given, say, “Free!” or “OK!” and jump about with the dog. Repeat this exercise for about a week, long enough for the dog to become excited when you enter the training area.

Step 2: Increase the concentration time and hide the treat:
Start the training sessions as before by giving the “Watch” command before giving the food. (1) Gradually increase concentration time by saying: “Good dog 1, Good dog 2” etc. before rewarding. This can be extended up to ten seconds before giving the food. (2) Now also begin to conceal the tidbit in your fist. Praise excitedly when the dog concentrates even when he cannot see the food hidden in your hand. Always start by allowing him to see the first few pieces before hiding the rest. Continue the sessions until each session can be completed with full attention and no corrections are needed.

Step 3: Concentration without food:
 Start the training session with food visible then hidden in the fist and finally with the food in a pouch. Your aim is to keep him concentrating with your voice. The dog must happily pay attention even if he cannot see the food. Show him that both your hand are empty, praise him and then reward him from the pouch. If he now looks away, give him a correction, count three “Good dogs” and reward. Remember to continue to move backwards and sideways as before while the dog learns that you are allowed to move but he has to sit and concentrate in order to earn a tidbit. What we do not want is for the dog to work beautifully and willingly as long as he can see the food or toy only to fall apart when it is removed or not allowed in competition.  By rewarding intermittently we create anticipation which in turn produces concentration. 

 Step 4: Attention in the sit:

Training can now be moved to a quiet corner in the garden or where more space is available for training heeling. Repeat the training that was done indoors with the dog sitting in front of you. The food is in your left hand above the dog’s head and the lead is in your right hand. Give the “Watch” command, praise the dog for concentration then give a “Free” or “OK” release and play for a bit. Repeat the same exercise but now gradually increase the concentration time up to half a minute or more before giving a release. Move as far as the lead will allow back and sideways on a loose lead. Vary the food from in view to out of sight. If the dog continues to concentrate without a treat or toy in sight for half a minute you are ready for the next step.

Step 5: Attention at heel:
With the dog sitting on lead in front of you and concentrating on the treat that is held in your left hand above his head, swivel round to position yourself next to the dog in the heel position.

An alternative mothod that produces very good results!

 

Sit-Stay & Walk On- Leash

 

By Dr Ian Dunbar

This is one of my all-time favorite training exercises — simply scary in simplicity and shocking in terms of magical results. This exercise actually provides the secret information that some gawdy websites promise over and over but never actually deliver. Watch our videos and see for yourself.

You start with an over-the-top, Iditarod-level leash-puller, who hasn’t paid attention to you for months, or years, and after just ten minutes fun training, you recreate your attentive dog who walks calmly on leash, looks up at you when you slow down and automatically sit-stays when you stop.

Until such a time as your dog is trained to your satisfaction, weigh out and use your dog’s daily allotment of kibble for this and other exercises. You may perform this exercise at home (indoors or outdoors) or on a walk.

Stand still, holding the leash in one hand and kibble in the other with both hands held high up and close to the body. Ignore everything your dog does until he sits. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Eventually, your dog will sit. Many dogs will go through an entire repertoire of behaviors that worked in the past to make you walk. The dog may lunge into the leash, bark, circle and jump-up. Just stand still and ignore your dog’s unwanted antics. Wait for your dog to sit.

The longer your dog takes to sit, the better he learns that his previous attention-getting and leash-pulling antics no longer work. When he eventually sits and receives immediate praise and a piece of kibble, he will have a Eureka-experience. “Ahhhh! So sitting is the secret to get my owner to move forwards.”

As soon as your dog sits, immediately say, “Good dog,” offer a food treat, and then take one huge step, stand still and wait for your dog to sit again. Your dog will likely explode to the end of the leash, thereby illustrating the reinforcing nature of you taking just one step. Wait for your dog to sit again. Most likely he will not take as long this time. When your dog sits, praise, offer a piece of kibble, take one big step and stand still once more. Repeat this sequence until your dog moves forward calmly (because he knows you are only going to take one step) and sits promptly when you stop and stand still.

Your dog has now learned he has the power to make you stop and the power to make you go. If he tightens the leash, or bounces and barks like the proverbial banana, you stop. But if he slackens the tension on the leash and sits, you take a step. After a series of single steps and standstills without pulling, try taking two steps at a time. Then go for three steps, then five, eight, twelve, and so on. Now you will find your dog will walk attentively on a loose leash and sit automatically whenever you stop. And the only words you have said were “Good dog.”

Occasionally, stand still and delay giving the kibble for longer and longer periods. Praise your dog as he remains looking up at you in a sit-stay. Count out the length of the sit-stay in “good dogs”—“Good dog one. Good dog two. Good dog three, etc.”

Now we are going to teach the dog to walk by your left side. Repeat the one-step-and-sit sequence as before but this time, when you take the one big step, rotate clockwise or counterclockwise through 90, 180, or 270 degrees and stand still and wait for your dog to sit by your left side. (If you would like to walk your dog on your right side, that’s perfectly OK. Most trainers teach dogs to walk on the left.) Once your dog sits reliably by your left side each time you stop, start to thin out the food rewards and only reward the dog for straighter sits. Gradually and progressively increase the number of steps you take with each repetition. Now your dog is heeling when you walk and automatically sitting when you stop.

Alternate heeling and walking on-leash. For most of the walk, let your dog range and sniff on a loose leash, but every 25 yards or so, have your dog sit, heel, and sit, and then walk on again. Always sit-heel-sit your dog when crossing a street: sit before crossing, heel across, and then sit on the other side of the street

 

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See Heeling (2) for more advanced Heeling for Competition.

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