Help with focused heeling - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Help with focused heeling

Hi! My girl doesn't seem to really get the idea of all this focused heeling thing. She is very enthusiastic when it comes to training and we practise the heeling thing almost every day for the past maybe 5 months. I've been working a lot on her position rewarding her with treats that she really likes or with a ball she's crazy about. We practise a lot next to a wall so it's easier for her to get into the right position. She is great at focusing on me, maybe this is the first thing she learned when I rescued her. We would still practise focus with her from time to time. She heels focused as **** between the wall and me. In this case she is in the right position, doesn't get forward and she seems to get the idea. When there is not a wall she won't always sit where she should when I tell her to heel. In this case I help her to get into the right position with the leash. When she feels the slightest pressure on the leash she gets in the position. I always reward her when she is in the right position, I don't know why she keeps sitting away from me or even sometimes almost in front of me. We have a working line GSD. He learned heeling from scratch when he was maybe 6 years old. We were working in the same way with him step by step. Before that I wasn't interested into IPO at all. I'm not a fan of the idea of using a prong or an e-collar because I can't correct her for something she doesn't understand how to do. When there isn't a wall next to her and we start walking she would get too forward,start getting in front of me or her butt would be wandering everywhere expect where it should be. I make sure to reward her only when she is in the right position. If I reward her with the ball I don't toss it forward(when I was teaching my boy to heel there were some owners in our class who would toss a ball forward for reward and their dogs' front legs and head were getting in front of them). In this case I would stop and help her get into the right position with the leash. Recently she started dropping her head while heeling from time to time. I tell her to watch and she will be back to her focused self, I would reward her. But she continues to drop her head sometimes...
There are times when she would heel like a pro . But this is not so often... I make sure to reward her and help her understand that this is what I want from her.
The trainer because of who I fell in love with IPO doesn't live in my country anymore. In my area I know trainers who solve different behaviour problems. There is one trainer with whom people train to get their BH. But the dogs do just heeling, no focused heeling. I would like to go further with my girl after getting the BH. I don't believe she's some kind of retarded as this trainer suggested without seeing my dog. She was able to learn a lot of things since I started training her. She doesn't have a problem with "outing" during bitework, she would always retrieve the dumbbell over the jumps(when I got her,her back end was so weak that she wasn't able to get into the car by herself), she will do tracking or pay attention to me and our work when there are plenty of distractions.
If you've read some nice books about competition heeling, please let me know about them. I would like to know why I'm messing things up. At the moment the nearest clubs where I could learn something are about 300+km away.
I thought she might be bored with the heeling so I gave her a 1 week break. After that break she started dropping her head more and more... But on the other hand she doesn't seem bored with training, she always wants to do sth for you and working is more interesting for her than playing with other dogs or stalking squirrels.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 03:25 PM
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I'm no IPO expert by any means,but do train in AKC obedience.What I know about focused heeling is it's all about keeping up the enthusiasm and increasing the duration a little at a time.Rewarding with ball,tug,treat, or enthusiastic praise frequently.Lots of direction changes.
The crooked sits are usually the result of the handler turning toward or looking at the dog when halting.In her mind proper position is to always face your front.Retrain yourself to keep eyes and body straight ahead and bring your left hand forward and up - ending in the position you want her nose to be when she sits.She will follow your hand with her nose and the body follows.Glance at her from the corner of your eye.Hope this helps a little


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 05:14 PM
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Try this.
Then keep working on focus separate and in a stationary heel position. I switch between food and toys as a reward.
This is a good read also.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 10:10 PM
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Do you have a no reward marker? So when she gets it wrong you use the no reward marker and lure her back into position with a treat or a toy... not by pulling on the lead. I think by pulling on the lead she's learned that she must first be tugged into position.
Keep your left arm tight against your side with your hand up at your waist. Make sure you don't move this hand to give her her treat or toy... she will only be able to reach it if she is sitting in the correct position.

Practice intermittently - 5 steps, 10 steps, 2 steps, 20 steps etc.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 12:38 AM
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Maybe give this class a try? I know a lot of people really like Shade's methods. Registration ends on the 15th.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 05:52 AM
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I'm getting my first working line puppy at the end of the summer and while I wait I've been doing a lot of reading. So since you're looking for books, I'd recommend "Schutzhund Obedience Training in Drive" by Sheila Booth. There is an entire chapter devoted to heeling. The book contains a lot of pictures and her explanations are very easy to read, understand and follow. Good luck with your training!
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your answers! I'm sorry for the mistakes, but English isn't my first language.
We made it . So...we started heeling without a leash or collar. This way she understood that I could not help her get into the right position with the leash and she needs to figure out on her own how to get a reward. Almost immediately she began finding the right position to get her reward faster. Now if she sits away from me she would correct herself. Maybe this helped me with the focus too. When she knows I won't help her with the leash if she isn't in the right position, she stopped getting bored and dropping her head, she began paying more attention because if she makes a mistake she would need some more time to figure out how to correct herself and I won't give her a reward till her butt is where it should be. When we practise heeling with a leash I don't use it at all for helping her. It's just attached to her collar because when we go to BH it would be attached to her collar for some time. Now she would get into the right position immediately when I tell her to heel 90% of the time which is awesome. If she doesn't get into the right position, she would correct herself.
However I think I'm still doing something wrong. I started increasing the time we are heeling in a straight line. She is awesome when I make sudden stops, when I start walking very slow, or increase my speed. I think this keeps her engaged and that's why she is perfect while I'm doing those things. But if I just walk in the same pace in a straight line for some time her butt would start to wander. In this case her front end is where it should be but her butt... I tried this next to a long fence...and her front end started to wander. In those cases I just stop and she would get in the right position on her own. She is a lot better when I removed the leash-helping thing from our heeling. But why she would be great when we make sudden stops, corner, walk slowly or fast and she would be awful while heeling in a straight line.
When her rear or front end start to wander I stop and she sits next to me in the right position. OK, but I don't think she knows that I stop because she isn't walking where she should be but because this is a part of the exercise... I don't think that she understands that she is doing something wrong at all. Yes, I make sure to reward her while she walks next to me but if she doesn't I would just stop and she would think it's because I just stop, not because she isn't where she should be. I need to do something in the moment she would start wandering, but what?
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 05:17 PM
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One mistake was only teaching your dog to do what you want next to a wall. When you took away the wall, your dog had to learn the exercise all over again. If you ever do it again, use the wall very briefly, then do exactly the same thing in an open space.
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