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Old 05-23-2014, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default help with focused heeling

I am working with a new trainer and he suggested I keep the reward I use for my scent detection (food) different from what I use in my obedience training. He's suggesting I use a toy for this.

I'm not sure why (I haven't talked to him yet, this was in an email that we'd been corresponding on).

Anyway this is all fine and dandy, but I find when I use a ball for focused heeling, my dog tends to forge. We are still learning our focused heeling, she's good about keeping eye contact, with either treats or her ball, but

How can I correct this issue, and should I go back to food?

I'm not sure what his reasoning is for keeping the rewards different for the two different activities, I will ask him next time I talk to him, but thought I'd ask here as well what you guys would do to correct this issue?
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not sure that the rewards for different activities have to be different. I can say that it is easier to wean a dog off of a toy than it is treats, so that may be the reasoning.

Where do you hold the ball when you do heelwork? Does he start forging at a certain time, say ten steps in, or is it right from the gate? When you reward, what do you do? Present it and let him grab it, throw it for him, drop it for him to catch?
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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She starts out forging, right out of the gate.

I hold it in my left hand up by my left shoulder, when I reward I say 'yes!' and drop it. I try to do that when she's not forging ahead, but back by my leg.
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There's a lot going on in focused heeling Blackshep. I don't think very many dogs are really able to maintain that level of drive for just food. The majority of them are more excited for the toy and that may be why he's forging.

You have to really take your time and where the toy is like Pax mentioned is important. Its really hard to go back and fix once you've created forging or crowding.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackshep View Post
She starts out forging, right out of the gate.

I hold it in my left hand up by my left shoulder, when I reward I say 'yes!' and drop it. I try to do that when she's not forging ahead, but back by my leg.
Try making sure its really on the outside of your shoulder in your right hand, not towards the front or your chest. Its very subtle, but that little bit can start bringing them around. One step, sit! Drop the ball. Try and keep everything on a line with your body. Does that make sense?
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackshep View Post
She starts out forging, right out of the gate.

I hold it in my left hand up by my left shoulder, when I reward I say 'yes!' and drop it. I try to do that when she's not forging ahead, but back by my leg.
You may have accidentally created forging. I see it a lot especially when the toy is held at the front of the body - the dog wants to come forward and around so they can keep their eye on the toy. For a plain ball, I like to stow it in my armpit and the reward goes directly behind me. That way all the focus is on my direct side or behind me so there's no interest in being in front, if that makes sense?

For a dog that is a bad forger, I've also done the ball on the rope so I can sling the ball over my shoulder and have it resting on my back when not in use. That helps keep the focus off of my front side to prevent them wanting to swing out in front.

I'd suggest trying a new position for the ball, say tucked in the armpit, and start from a stand still. Practice a good solid starting position with the ball in the arm and practice delivering behind you. I like my dogs to almost anticipate stepping back to receive the ball.

I've found that practicing the start position tends to be skipped too quickly. You really want to nail it into his head that he will only get it at that exact position. When that's solid as concrete, it will be easier moving forward to reward for that exact position and build up the number of steps. When you start practicing going forward, the forging will be your indicator that either he does not know his position well enough or you've taken too many steps. Go back where he is successful, drill, then challenge.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've tried the left armpit, same thing. BUT it was again, on my left. I've only done the heeling with a ball once (last night), so it's not something that's been going on for long time or anything.

I should hold it on the right? Steve, yes, that makes sense about keeping it in line. I think you guys are right, she's trying to come around to see the ball. I guess that's why I thought holding it on the left would be better, but perhaps not.

As far as slinging it over my shoulder (it's a ball on a rope), I think she will jump on me and try to grab it off my back. lol I'm not the best trainer and my dog is on the wild side, I have bruises on my leg from training last night. lol I should maybe do fewer steps too. I've been walking down the long side of my riding arena, using the wall to try to keep her straight.

Are there any good videos for training start position and focused heeling (specifically how to reward?)

I was able to get out to some training last year, but it's a long drive and I have a horse farm, so it's difficult for me to get away for a whole day. So I'm largely doing this on my own.
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Old 05-23-2014, 01:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Never ON the right Blackshep, you just aren't able to hold it in the right place with your left hand. I'm saying basically the same thing as Pax, but I'm saying keep it in sight for a while, and her point about focus before moving is very good.
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Old 05-23-2014, 01:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Also, if I have it in my right hand, where do I drop the ball? Behind me on the right side?
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Old 05-23-2014, 01:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Strom View Post
Never ON the right Blackshep, you just aren't able to hold it in the right place with your left hand. I'm saying basically the same thing as Pax, but I'm saying keep it in sight for a while, and her point about focus before moving is very good.
Ok, now you've lost me. lol

I hold it with my right hand, on my left side?
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