Suggestions for heeling position? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Suggestions for heeling position?

My current female has been a joy to train thus far. My biggest issue is her position while heeling. She really wraps herself to the point that her rear end swings out. She really kind of taught herself to heel in that I didn't really have to do a ton of work to show her where to be. Kind of a new thing for me after working Rotties and Beaucerons for many years that did not always take instruction so enthusiastically . Most of our GSDs that I've worked over the years did not wrap like this so I've never had to "fix" it, usually I seem to be working on lagging or forging. I guess you could say she is my first experience with a dog who has "genetic obedience".
I have recently worked her along a long wall or fence to get her to hold it straight, which she does very nicely. But within a few minutes out in the open she will swing back out a bit.
I was wondering if there were any specific things others have been successful with on getting positioning more where you want it.
Also, I'm not overly concerned about a perfect obedience score when the time comes. I've learned to appreciate the exercise for the relationship it builds more than the number and don't care if we are perfect as far as today's trends go. I just need to be more comfortable moving with her.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 09:02 AM
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I've heard of people using a dowel or stick that you use to tap the rear leg when they are wide
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 09:07 AM
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Maybe if you could put a hand down in front of her nose to back her off? Or a gentle tug on the collar. Then reward for a correct position while walking.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 01:11 PM
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I've got one dog that wraps/crowds me and one that doesn't at all. In thinking on what I've done differently....with the second dog I did a lot more foundation work before actual heeling. Perch work, having the dog maintain focus just sitting in front and basic position, and luring the dog with food to physically condition/"muscle memory" the right position when moving. I also know I did a few things wrong with the first dog....when I started Schutzhund I always held the reward in my right hand and would whip it out front, so I don't think that helped the crowding and wrapping around the front. I would also do this trick where if I felt the dog was not paying enough attention, I'd do a quick right pivot and correct the dog. This did help me get a more intense, focused heel close to my body, but I think it may have also contributed to the dog being slightly crooked and wrapped.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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This is a dog who has held eye contact with me from the get go. While I did teach her a command (look) for eye contact, once again I really didn't have to teach it per se. I think this is a case of the dog being better than the handler .
I have only recently begun to work on heeling position and am hoping to be a good handler and think about my actions.
Someone posted a link to a website once where a trainer was discussing how dogs like this wrap and how they re-train the behavior. At the time it was only a problem I could dream about, so I guess I didn't save it. I'm going to do a search and see if I can find the website. As I recall I remember thinking how I liked the overall approach.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 02:17 PM
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Maybe if you go to using food to guide her butt into place. I kind of use my hand "on" their nose as a leash to control the butt.....I'm a perch fan too.

You could train opposition where they learn to back up around your body the whole way to help find heel position so she can learn a pull forward moves her butt into you.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 03:34 PM
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sorry for the ignorance, but what is "perch"?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 03:50 PM
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This is just an uneducated suggestion.

With Zefra, she has this natural focus as well. Always staring you down, no matter what is being worked on, the focus is there. Not something I taught but definitely something I rewarded!

Now that we have started our heel work, she seems to wrap around me as well to look me in the eye, thinking that is what I want - which is in a way.

So what I have done is add a little pressure by not rewarding her when she is wrapped around me.

I started doodling with her in basic.

Focus and in position - one step. If she stays in position - reward, if she doesn't we say "oops!" and go again.

And of course; repeat.

We also had a habit of jumping while in basic so that has also helped with that.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 04:08 PM
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When I have the dog sit in front and basic it's more about training the dog what those positions mean and loading the dog in drive (whilst doing nothing) than it is about training focus. The focus comes naturally or is fairly quickly/easily trained with most dogs I think. But just because they can offer me focus does not mean I am convinced they understand what "fuss" means and are ready to move forward (literally).
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 06:26 AM
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Something Michael Ellis also has mentioned, which I was guilty of NOT doing - with a young dog, along a fence or wall...bend forward at the waist, so you can still look at your dogs eyes, without turning your shoulder back as you turn to look at the dog - the dog then feels he/she, should have to look at you square in the eyes if you *turn* to look down at it.......instead, bending at the waist ensures the dog can maintain position, not be manipulated by your shoulder movement, and still be able to look at your eyes. I trained by NOT bending at the waist, instead I turned my left shoulder backwards, and looked down at him - and now I have had to fix the crowding from my dog, it is not his fault, all he was trying to do is to look me square in the eyes ....this can also create forging, when the dog feels it needs to look into your eyes, and both my boy and my girl give great natural focus, so even MORE need to foundation the heel correctly IMO.
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