Keeping butt in correct position during heeling. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Keeping butt in correct position during heeling.

Hey everyone,

Here is my issue: Hunter and I have been working on his focused heeling, and my problem is that he heels on an angle with his butt sticking out. I don't have any wall space in my apartment, but I use fences outside and walls in the lobby hallway when I get a chance... is there anything else I can do to keep him in proper position? I keep his reward, a tug, under my arm - I have changed it's position several times but since he looks at my face and not the reward it doesn't really impact his form. I have tried using a stick held at his flank like a makeshift wall... but he just throws his weight against it and it isn't working anymore.

I considered hovering a treat or the tug above his head, but then he won't look at me, he'll get used to walking while looking up - won't he?

Anyway, any advice is GREATLY appreciated. This crooked heel is driving me nuts!

SG S-Hunter vom Geistwasser CA CGN TT ATD (Service Dog, Retired Airport Wildlife Control K9)
Zenna vom Geistwasser NTD


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:09 PM
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I did my first many, many sessions on a tennis court. All fenced in, and we just walked the big square with Indy between the fence and I so she had no choice but to be in a good position. After several sessions and she was habituated to the position, we moved to working in an open field. I still take her back to the tennis court pretty regular. Used it for training from the front to basic position as well, again, no option but to be correct....for the butt anyway...forging or lagging just use the leash and a mild correction obviously.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by W.Oliver View Post
I did my first many, many sessions on a tennis court. All fenced in, and we just walked the big square with Indy between the fence and I so she had no choice but to be in a good position. After several sessions and she was habituated to the position, we moved to working in an open field. I still take her back to the tennis court pretty regular. Used it for training from the front to basic position as well, again, no option but to be correct....for the butt anyway...forging or lagging just use the leash and a mild correction obviously.
Ahh, great advice! I have a tennis court here at my apartment complex that is all fenced above parking... I will head there today unless I find a no dogs sign on the door... just heel all the wall around... perfect idea, thank you!

Also, how would you correct for forging? Hunter does that as well.

SG S-Hunter vom Geistwasser CA CGN TT ATD (Service Dog, Retired Airport Wildlife Control K9)
Zenna vom Geistwasser NTD


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:36 PM
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I may go against the grain but I don't like using props to correct heeling because I find that it really quickly falls apart once the prop is removed. I like to teach the dog the correct position from the beginning and literally do not move forward until the dog shows me the right position every step of the way.

Aside from heelwork, you can do perchwork to help the dog gain a general awareness of his body and how to pivot his rear end.

With a puppy, I walk around with food in my hand and have the dog push up into my hand as we go. This is not to teach heeling, and I don't fade the amount of food or luring or slowly draw the food to my face (just wanted to make this distinction because some people *do* train heeling this way but I've never gone that far using food and luring). My intention for this is encouraging the dog to "collect" himself so that his body remains straight while heeling. My hand controls his head and if you control the head you control the butt.

Personally I would ditch the tug or just hold it in your left hand. He may be seeing it as a lure and being inadvertently lured in the wrong position. He needs to focus on you and think about being in the correct position. Sometimes the toy reward is too distracting.

Before I started heelwork with Pan I spend *months* just having him sit in front and basic position and give me focus. Once we started heelwork, it really came together very quickly and easily because he already had a good feeling about where his body should be and how it should move. At this time he was old enough for a prong collar which I use to give corrections and sometimes stimulate drive through creating a bit of pressure.

Another tip is to be very aware of your body and what you are projecting. Stick your chest out and march forward. If you are constantly looking down at the dog you may be dropping your shoulder inadvertently and "pushing" him sideways with your body language. If he understands the heel position, be confident he is there and march forward.

I'm no expert but this is how I trained a dog that is a half sibling to yours. I like that his heeling is free and happy without being over loaded. I had forging problems with Nikon so I've been super careful about Pan's position since he will ultimately be a bigger dog. His heeling is now like this but more polished since this was made, especially the turning you can see he is having trouble with the left turns at this time (this was right as we started transitioning from learning the position and focus to actual movement):

Last edited by Liesje; 12-02-2011 at 04:41 PM.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Wild Wolf View Post
Ahh, great advice! I have a tennis court here at my apartment complex that is all fenced above parking... I will head there today unless I find a no dogs sign on the door... just heel all the wall around... perfect idea, thank you!

Also, how would you correct for forging? Hunter does that as well.
Thank Michael Ellis...I spent a week with him in California, and his tips in that regard and engagement have been working well for me. I would recommend his videos on heeling. Perch work, as Lies suggested, is also a part of his program with respect to rear-end awareness, and Indy really enjoyed that aspect as a pup.

Luring is a early part of the effort that when done in the correct position, also habituates the dog to the position...with respect to forging, I would first make sure your pace is correct...are you walking too slow for your dog to perform well. Beyond that, I simply use modest leash corrections with praise once she is in the correct position.


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
Personally I would ditch the tug or just hold it in your left hand. He may be seeing it as a lure and being inadvertently lured in the wrong position. He needs to focus on you and think about being in the correct position. Sometimes the toy reward is too distracting.
Totally agree with Lies...Indy is 13 months, and I have yet to use a toy/tug or a pinch collar in training. I am fortunate her food drive is off the charts, and when I refer to luring, it is with food not a toy.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 05:34 PM
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I train heel like lies. Literally months of pushing into my hand. Learning opposition. What pops mean. 1 step of perfect...yes and reward. 2 steps. Etc. use the perch all the time. Shape slowly and build up to movement around and only rewarding when butt isexactly where you want it. You have a very young puppy. Seriously no reason to feel like you ne ed significant movement right now. Learning where their body needs to be in baby steps is the the most important thing. At least imo....but I prefer to shape it how I want in baby steps and not rush it. Everyone has their own methods.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Great advice everyone, especially Lies. Thank you very much.

So should I go back to basics and work on positioning?

SG S-Hunter vom Geistwasser CA CGN TT ATD (Service Dog, Retired Airport Wildlife Control K9)
Zenna vom Geistwasser NTD


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-02-2011, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by GSDElsa View Post
I train heel like lies. Literally months of pushing into my hand. Learning opposition. What pops mean. 1 step of perfect...yes and reward. 2 steps. Etc. use the perch all the time. Shape slowly and build up to movement around and only rewarding when butt isexactly where you want it. You have a very young puppy. Seriously no reason to feel like you ne ed significant movement right now. Learning where their body needs to be in baby steps is the the most important thing. At least imo....but I prefer to shape it how I want in baby steps and not rush it. Everyone has their own methods.
That is the method employed by Ellis as well with the addition of the barrier to the left, like the tennis court fence, a wall, anything to aid in establishing the basic position. As stated by GSDElsa and Lies, one, two steps correctly, mark and reward. Over and over...building slowly. I really would recommend the Ellis videos....good information.


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-03-2011, 10:54 PM
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I use a four foot long cane pole about 2/4 in diameter. I hold it out and pointed back at my left foot with the tip of the cane is about knee level to the dog and hold it just outside of the correct position I want him in. Give the foss command and start the healing. When the dog's butt drifts out his back knees start bumping the cane. Doesn't hurt bad but not something he wants happening all day.As soon as he kicks back into you pop the ball and mark. From this I translate to just a tap on his left side to correct position. Next its a tap from my finger. All the taps are done while also looking hard at the left hip. Now if he starts to crab I just cut my eyes to the hip and utter a soft "ack" to remind him. When he straightens tell him "goooooood" and pop the ball. Just one trick I used.

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