How do I teach my dogs to focus on me and to heel. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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How do I teach my dogs to focus on me and to heel.

I have 2 dogs. Riley is 7 months and Apollo is 1 yr and 3 months. Apollo will intently focus on me when I say his name. It's a super intense stare. Riley on the other hand will look at me for a second and glance away, like he has ADD. I know part of it is my lack of training. I do train quite often but I get frustrated easily and give up. I know, I have to change it and I'm definitely working on it. I am working with a trainer but we only meet up once a week because we live an hour apart and she is doing it for free for me. I saw someone's post I think "Bama" I could be totally wrong on the name but he is from Alabama. He said to hold treats in both hands and when the dog looks at you to give him the treat. Well I tried this and it didn't work so well. I did some of that today. I had to call his name a few times until he looked at me about twice and that was it. I was using regular dog food though and that could be partly the reason he wasn't too interested. So for 1 I have to work on the focus aspect with Riley, Apollo has the focus aspect down.

Secondly, Apollo is getting great at walking beside me on leash. Riley is good at it as long as Apollo is not around. I have to use a choke on Riley though because he will pull with a regular collar. I barely have to use the choke though when we walk alone cause he knows.

Thirdly, how exactly do I teach my dogs to heel? When I want Riley to walk close to me I say "Close." This may not be the correct word? I don't know, he walks close when I say close. The thing is is that when I have him on his 20 foot lead I will tell him to wait and walk the distance of the lead and then say "Come close." He will come but walk right behind me and yonder. I would love to be able to have him heel on a loose leash focusing on me at times and then build up to him doing it off leash. The thing is is that I know I must teach him a solid focus first. I just am not sure if I am going about everything correctly.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 09:27 PM
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Have the dog sitting beside you when you want him to look at you. When you say what ever word your using and he looks at you reward him right away. Do this in the morning or at night with his meals when you know he's hungry. Look at some clicker trainng videos online or some sort of marker training to help your training. This will help both you and the dog. Good luck
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 09:33 PM
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I like/love the Michael Ellis clips on Leerburg. Worth purchasing as well!
Leerburg Streaming Video
Run backwards with treats and lure Riley(mealtime is training time) and then turn and walk with him in heel position while luring still. Mark the good behavior and reward often.
Eventually do away with the luring or use a high value training only tug/ball toy if you want. I did very small baby steps. Three steps of focus, and reward, eventually getting more and rewarding constantly, keep session short and fun. If the dog checks out, you've gone too long.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Some of Apollo's descendent's are from Leerburg Kennels. Thank you for the Video. I'm going to try this tomorrow morning!!
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2010, 09:39 PM
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See the "sticky" tread above.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 09:32 PM
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I've had great success teaching Cedar to walk on a leash without pulling. If she does pull, I simply stop and I won't move until she stops pulling. If need be, I'll stand there like an idiot for an hour, although it usually only takes seconds. Once she stops pulling and comes back towards me, I'll direct her with a treat to come towards me, spin 180 degrees directly beside me so she's facing the same direction as I am, then I'll give her the treat and praise her.

Also, when I was training her, I would quite often abruptly change directions. I would give a quick, but gentle pull on the leash to let her know I was suddenly going the opposite way. Sometimes she would look at me like I was out of my mind, but it helped teach her that she needs to stay close to me at all times or she may end up getting a bit of a tug.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 09:54 PM
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My new trainer is helping me with this exact same problem. Here is what she told me

there are three aspects to heeling. Head up, Position and Focus.

Perch Work - You'll want to move counterclockwise. Eventually the dog should move fast enough to catch up to you and will be in the right position. the perch work teaches them back end awareness. You can do other things to work on back end awareness to. Backing, ladders, etc. There are videos of perching on youtube.

Head Up - With your elbow at your side and your arm level, hold a treat just above his nose so he has to tilt his head up. Reward him for one step with his head up, then two, then four, etc.

Focus - Teach him to watch you. As soon as he looks at you, mark and treat.

Work on each aspect alone before putting it all together. I haven't put a word to the actual command yet and won't until she's in the right position.

Also, another problem we had was Jax is a "show me the money dog" and didn't relate the reward to me. So find his highest value treat. Hers is a frisbee. Plotz, Yes! and throw. Plotz (if she doesn't then I say Oops and wait at least 3 seconds before repeating the command), Yes! and throw. Then put the reward down somewhere. If he goes to take it, don't say a word. Just take it away and put it back. and just continue this until he leaves it. Then give the command, mark and then go get the reward to give it to him.

I hope all that made sense. It's getting late.

And just for the record...making eye contact is a challenge to dogs. It's not natural to them. It took Jax quite awhile to be comfortable looking in my face so be patient with him. He'll get it eventually. And you don't have to be in a 'planned' training session for any of what I'm doing. I can do it once, for 5 minutes or 1/2 hour. Depends on what is in my hand and where we are. If you are teaching them something new, keep the first few sessions to 5 minutes. Heel is fairly intense because it involves so many things to do.

Last edited by Jax08; 11-30-2010 at 09:57 PM.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heagler870 View Post
I had to call his name a few times until he looked at me about twice and that was it.
This is part of the problem. Dogs learn by repetition, with two tries the training session was a waste of time because you didn't give time the dog to learn anything, less to mature the training. Next training session you start with expectations of him being a bit better than the last one, but you just didn't give him that chance.

You want your dog to be focused, but YOU have to be FOCUSED on the training session first

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 10:02 PM
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And instead of calling his name, lure him with HIGH VALUE treat to look at you. He knows his name. If he's ignoring you when you are saying it then you are using it to often.

You can hold the treat at your forehead if that's what it takes and as soon as he looks at YOU, not the treat, then mark and reward. Once you think he's getting it then move the treat away from your face and wait till he looks at you. But youo can teach focus everywhere. In the kitchen getting his food? If he watches you, then mark and reward!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-30-2010, 10:22 PM
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I really think that you could get a lot out of a good training class - having someone watch you and help you is invaluable.

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