My 9 month old shepherd is doing great in her training classes, she is an incredibly fast learning and high drive, but I am having some trouble getting her to really UNDERSTAND heeling.
I can generally get her to heel nicely on or off leash for 10-20 feet with a motivator (food/toy) but we are hoping to get into AKC obedience (and/or rally-still deciding!) and I am worried that teaching her the wrong way now is going to hurt us in the future by teaching her bad habits and I need to educate myself as to what I am doing.
If I simply give a heel command she does not understand to go into heel position, despite months of practice, but I can fairly easily lure her into position. This tells me that however I am teaching to get into position is NOT working. If I am ahead of her and call her into a heel position she does this pretty well, but that is more due to my positioning than her actually understanding what this whole heel thing is about.
When using a high value motivator (her fetching sticks) she rushes ahead and cuts me off.
I realize that focused heeling is a LONG process that takes a lot of effort. I have been researching many different (positive) methods, but I guess what I would like is some tips/hints/ time frames/ good resources for teaching myself how best to teach my puppy what I want from her.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!