AKC Obedience and the heel - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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AKC Obedience and the heel

I have a dog here that was fairly soft and handler sensitive when we first got her. Because of this, I didn't push her as much in her heel as I should have. As a result, she now has a gorgeous heel position ... only her shoulders are about 8" past my hip. Understandably, this is forging ahead a bit. However, can we still get qualifying scores in Obedience so long as she doesn't crowd me? At this point, it would be a hge hassle to retrain her. I'd prefer not to if possible, so thought I would ask around first before doing any drastic changes.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 09:09 PM
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you would probably qualify, but you will take a big hit in points. In Novice, the Heel on lead & Figure 8 is worth 40 points, you cant loose more than 20 points or you fail. Same thing with Heel Free exercise.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 09:14 PM
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Why not try to fix it? Do several turns while you bump her-it may show her where you want her. Praise/pay her when she is in position. She may just need to be shown, and as she is handler sensitive will get it quickly.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by onyx'girl View Post
Why not try to fix it? Do several turns while you bump her-it may show her where you want her. Praise/pay her when she is in position. She may just need to be shown, and as she is handler sensitive will get it quickly.
I have tried many methods to fix it. She will correct herself for a few feet and surge forward again. Any sort of harder correction (jerk on the leash, or bump her too hard with your leg, etc) and she just can't tolerate it at all. As long as she is slightly ahead of me she is happy and animated, though. That's why I felt it would take some drastic work (ie: hair pulling on my part) to correct the issue. She is not quite as soft anymore, but can still shut down if pushed too far and she's just hard enough that positive reinforcement, praise, or treats only go so far before she ignores it. She's an interesting one.

My next step would be to just bite the bullet and do a mixture of bumping her, applying pressure to her leash (as needed), and then trying to mix in enough positive reinforcement to keep her from shutting down. Of course, it would be a very fine balancing act.

In my dream world, I could get by as is ... but I guess that won't work out like I had hoped. I don't want to lose major points over it.

Edited to add: by jerk on the leash I do not mean yank her off her feet. I mean a mild to moderate bump.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 10:08 PM
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Start at the beginning and reteach her heel position. After that, work on moving in heel position, but only take one or two steps at a time. If she's forging ahead, you're taking too many steps and you need to slow down. Try to set her up for success so she's never in a situation where she'll need to be corrected for messing up!

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 10:18 PM
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You can also change her heel command as you work to fix it. It may make the change more clear to her.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e.rigby View Post
Start at the beginning and reteach her heel position. After that, work on moving in heel position, but only take one or two steps at a time. If she's forging ahead, you're taking too many steps and you need to slow down. Try to set her up for success so she's never in a situation where she'll need to be corrected for messing up!
She has a perfect basic position a majority of the time. Would I be moving too fast if I start right into working on the moving heel (by taking small steps)? I hadn't thought of trying that.

She will come around behind me and sit with her shoulder at my hip, but then forges as we move out. From then on, her basic position is usually correct but can sometimes get crooked (another thing we're working on).

Andaka - thanks. I might try that.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 01:31 PM
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I agree about changing her heel command and starting fresh. start by rewarding with a stationary position with her in correct position, using the new command. I would use food luring to keep her in position while in motion, only a few strides at a time rewarding and feeding while in motion and then release. This is how I trained my dog when he was 8 weeks old, he had a nice attention heel and nice position by 12 weeks, and I was able to take the lure away that soon as well.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 05:06 PM
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Frank likes to forge alittle too when on lead but not when he's off lead, giving him a leash correction didnt' seem to be working because he would get wide then, so what i've been doing is holding an extremly high value treat in my left hand back at hip level so he has to be back to see it, and run the leash behind me to my right hand I leave it loose, I then do lots of heeling short distances with tight left turns, the leash isnt' for corrections but just to be on him, since I noticed it was only on lead he forged. Frank's heeling is improving it's like he's learning where his rear end is and how to move it and at the same time getting the right spot to heel.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-21-2011, 05:25 PM
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I agree with the retraining too. Only taking a couple steps, then stop, she will not have a chance to forge ahead. Increase your steps one at a time. If she starts forging, go back to only a couple steps. Have you also tried putting the leash behind you and holding in your right hand? Holding her back in the correct position. If she moves ahead, she corrects herself. Are you rewarding her infront of you and her? or releasing and rewarding backward. The anticipation of release/reward to the front can sometimes encourage the forging.

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