Heel exercises

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Training Programme. 


Heeling is Teamwork and the dog’s attention must be kept for increasingly longer periods of time.

In training, do not work off lead unless ordered to do so by a trainer. At home, train exclusively on lead.

The dog’s head must be UP and be looking at the handler. Use food or a toy to maintain attention.

If possible, train when the dog is hungry and use the meal for training.

When a puppy or young dog is distracted, run backwards, do a recall and get the attention back, swivel back into the heel position and continue heeling.

A step to the right and a pop on a short leash will re-establish an older dog’s attention during the heeling exercise.

Use your voice to praise often and enthusiastically, especially after a correction when the dog has complied.

Do short exercises and always end on a winning note. Play with your dog between exercises. 

When coming to a halt, develop the habit of stopping on the right foot and then stiffen the left leg just as it joins the right leg. Practice without the dog to develop this habit of stopping.  The slowing of the left leg helps as an early warning for the dog to stop on time and be squared up to the left leg.

A very common mistake by handlers is to “step into” the dog at the halt. This can be avoided by placing the right foot slightly wide to the right at the halt and the left coming in almost from behind the right leg. The dog must develop the habit of moving towards the handler and NOT the handler towards the dog!

Whenever you halt be ready to draw your dog into your left leg and say, “Closer.”

Be careful not to draw the dog closer to you by putting pressure on the kidney area. This may make matters worse. Rather practice next to a wall or fence to stop crooked sits. Alternatively, make a left turn and halt immediately. Praise for a straight sit.

Sits are an integral part of heeling and must be fast and as such be trained and corrected very quickly

Heel exercises should consist mainly of left and right circles.

By stepping in front of the dog with the left leg the dog is not only forced to remain close to your body, but you can prevent him from forging ahead by making backward tugs on the leash that is held fairly close to the catch. Try not to look down too much in order to avoid becoming dizzy.

Left circles can be followed with right circles. This can be varied with squares, left and right as well as in fast or slow pace.

Once the dog is able to hold the heeling position, tighter left and right circles as well as figure of eight patterns can be attempted.

Below are examples of heel exercises that can be followed.

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