Working on heel - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Working on heel

Mirada and I are starting to work on heel in motion, but I'm having a bit of trouble with her when we are stationary.

I cannot figure out how to get her to fix herself if she is out of position. Luring has not helped at all, and I don't think she's really understanding what I'm asking of her.

She is completely insensitive to movements of my body.

In motion:






I know she's crowding and forging a little, but we've only been at heeling in motion for two days. It will be corrected the best I can do so.

Jackie and the
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 04:35 PM
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I have no idea if what I'm doing is right or wrong. But I take a step backwards & he will automatically come around to my front, then stop on my left side. We practiced ALOT down my long hallway and I used the wall-it helped us alot. He would swing his butt out and would end up facing my side until we started using the hallway & wall as our guide.

Good question-I'm also curious what others say.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 05:49 PM
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Dogs move off of their heads and the fronts. IME dogs need to be taught how to move their back end to adjust position.

I would start teaching her how to move her rear as a foundation piece for the heel. I usually start with spins (and they usually have a dominant side, so I will work on the weak side), and from there I progress to lateral movement off my leg and perch work. This kind of stuff can really help with their body awareness, and can help them learn to find position. This is Argos and I working on Lateral movement for the first time and then Cade who had been started when he was a pup- you can see he moves much more easily and that movement off my leg will eventually translate into movement off my shoulder. Clearly Argos struggles. But he eventually moves his butt.


You also use a fixed barrier to create a movement habit. A lot of people like to teach heel along a fence. This prevents them from being able to swing out.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, JKlatsky My other dog Strauss is so body sensitive, but he seems to see past the tics and knows the difference between my body cues and my flailing. Mirada seems to have decided that NONE of my body movements are valid, hence the problem.

We'll try what you suggested.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 11:37 PM
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Hi Jackie,
I know that it is very tempting to try to get the dog to show the "big picture" and ignore the imperfections initially. In my experience this is a mistake, if you know that the dog is crowding or forging or whatever you do not want, then it is much easier to correct it now than try to correct it later.

As for the dog adjusting her position from the basic position. I am assuming that you mean that she is cocked out and you would like her to straighten herself. What I like to do for this is quarter turns to the left while flanking the dog to make her move back. I put a command to this that is seperate from my "heel" command (I use "back") so eventually when ever the dog begins to swing out, either in motion or in the basic position, the command "back" will make them swing the butt in.


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 01:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
if you know that the dog is crowding or forging or whatever you do not want, then it is much easier to correct it now than try to correct it later.
Yup, that's the plan. Just wanted to be clear that I KNOW she's crowding/forging, and we're working on that, but we've only been "in motion" for a couple of days, so that picture isn't quite there yet (The heel is my least favorite thing to teach, so I've really been dragging it out).

Quote:
What I like to do for this is quarter turns to the left while flanking the dog to make her move back.
I can't flank this dog (and admittedly it's not a method I prefer). She'll quit in little time. I am trying to teach her more rear end awareness, but she seems very resistant to it thus far (been trying to teach her to back up, and she HATES it). I was thinking about trying to lure the back position, but even then, she's a harder dog to lure.

She alternates pretty evenly between sitting behind, and being forged (I will also admit that forged is my preference).

She does have a very nice "tuck" sit, and does not rock back.

It's just so weird working a dog that's not taking cues off my body!

Jackie and the
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 08:49 AM
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To tell you the truth, I know longer ask for facial attention until they understand heeling off a lure in a straight line. I work the 2 items separately and put them together later on. I think that our dog's swinging out is a function of conformation and also the dogs natural ability to turn the body in the direction of their head. This was my major problem with Argos whom I taught heel as a walking focus. To look me in the face he had to swing out some.

So now I start out by teaching my dogs to heel based on a hand target- this gives me complete control of their head and then consequently their body, so I can manipulate them more easily when teaching position. Once I start to fade the hand lure, then I can ask for my "watch" command and if I've been working that in a variety of settings I will get it and can then reward motion and attention. This usually doesn't happen for me until the dog is a year or so old. Better to lay all the foundation and have reliable created habits than to start trying to fix as you go.

Mohnwiese kennel's website has a nice step by step on lured heeling.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 10:27 AM
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I can't seem to find video anywhere of what I want to show you...

What you need to work on is the perch/brick work and "find the leg" type stuff... will have to make a video as soon as I'm not stuck at home...

To start, check out Celeste Meade on youtube.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 10:32 AM
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I do the same as JKlatsky. I try to stay away from face focus when teaching heeling. It's too hard to ask the dog to look at your face full on and then say: "Oh, but don't forge, don't crab, don't wrap". It's easier for them to keep position if they are taught to look at a target (left side of the face, shoulder, armpit, maybe an armband worn the upper left arm ... depends on what is the final picture that you are going for).

Also, since the butt always goes the opposite way of the head, if you can get the dog's head to to turn a bit more to the left, then the butt should swing in.

Make the dog think "LEFT, LEFT, LEFT". Feed from the left hand, reward from the left hand, I see you got a frisbee in your left hand so you can make the frisbee a bit more "visible" to the dog. Hold it a bit higher and closer to her head, to the left of her (in the beginning if she wants to look AT the frisbee, I would even just let her) and the rest of the body will straighten out.

Last edited by Jason L; 02-10-2011 at 10:35 AM.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 10:50 AM
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I absolutely agree with the others about working on the mechanics of heeling first and foremost and not asking for attention heeling until those mechanics are sound. Position must be a main focus of early heeling. It doesn't take long for the dog to habituate to heeling crooked, and once that behavior is set it is very difficult to fix. There is a lot of muscle memory involved in heeling and that must be learned correctly. Easiest way to teach correct, straight heeling is using a lure. Food is easiest and allows more frequent rewards with less break in the action, and also much easier to lure the dog into proper position with. Even once the lure is faded it is important to present the reward in a location that approximates where the dog is supposed to be. Even with marker training marking and releasing the correct behavior, sign tracking will lead to a dog gravitating out of position if the reward always comes from the front or the right side of the body. So deliver rewards on the left, with the left hand, in the general place where the dog should be in relation to your body. If a dog is crowding, move the lure/reward away from your body. Maybe even to the outside left of the dog. Get the dog to move her head away from you, and her butt will come in and overall she will be straighter.

Heeling along a barrier (fence, wall, curb) can artificially straighten the dog out so as to allow the dog to practice correct heeling and build the muscle memory for it. Lots of left turns and left 1/4 turns (there are ways to do this without flanking) helps straighten the dog out and get them to stop crowding, and also builds rear end awareness.


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