Heeling Help!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Heeling Help!!

I've been having some issues with Aiden's heeling. I'm not sure if it's just be being overly critical or not, so I'd like some input please!

My problem is that Aiden has recently started "faking" the look command. From a stand still, he can hold the look for any length of time, and earlier in his training when I was baiting him with food and then gradually fading out my hand, it worked as well. The trouble now is that when given the command, as I step forward with my left, his head drops slightly and I lose eye contact. His head is still slightly raised and turned in towards me, but it's almost like he's targeting my right shoulder rather than my face. He will heel an entire obedience routine with that head set. From any outsiders point of view, it looks like he's showing attention to me, but it's not flashy and prancy because his head isn't really lifted up. I have never given him a reward for heeling on my right side, so I don't know why he'd target my right shoulder. It's almost like he's avoiding the eye contact. He looks extremely uncomfortable when he does it.

I know the rules are changing soon for IPO and that attention in heeling isn't as strict, so I'm not sure if I should keep hammering down on Aiden for this. I've been told by some people to just reward for the head position, because it's not like anyone else can see that he's actually "faking". I've been told by others to start back at the beginning with baiting him again. He's now 2.5 years old, so I really want to start cracking down on some consistency for his sake.

Thanks all!

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-30-2011, 08:12 PM
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How did you train your heeling and what are you doing while heeling? (ie, using a lure/reward, praising him, talking him up, prong correction, e-collar, etc)
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:27 PM
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is he in correct position otherwise? No forging or lagging?

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
How did you train your heeling and what are you doing while heeling? (ie, using a lure/reward, praising him, talking him up, prong correction, e-collar, etc)
As far as obedience goes, he isnt motivated for much. He's sooo handler sensitive and avoidant of doing things he doesn't want to do, so he looks like he really hates heeling from my angle. I do bait him with food when I can get him interested in it. He likes to tug more, so I will also use that when I need to. The food gets his head into the correct position better than the tug, but neither last longer than a few steps. If I remove the tug or food from over his head, he does the "fake" head position, but his head is slightly lowered. I talk him up ALOT because he honestly works better for my praise than anything. I use a prong, but have yet to use a hard correction because he is so avoidant of pressure. i just kinda jingle it to keep his attention when I need to.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:35 PM
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Have your tried holding the reward under your left armpit or spitting food? If you go to spitting food at him, the reward comes from your face, and it might work better to show him that is where he is supposed to look.

If it were me, I wouldn't sweat the head position that much as long as his position was correct and consistent.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ShatteringGlass View Post
is he in correct position otherwise? No forging or lagging?
He stays perfectly straight and with me the entire time. Never forges and only lags on turns (which we are working on ). My training buddies all say that he looks fine and attentive from where they are standing, but it's just not that nice, flashy prancing heel that I love. His obedience is very strong otherwise and I really just want to make sure that we are going to get a good score even without the flashy heeling that we have as of now.

I'm also a pretty overly critical mommy, so who knows!

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Castlemaid View Post
Have your tried holding the reward under your left armpit or spitting food? If you go to spitting food at him, the reward comes from your face, and it might work better to show him that is where he is supposed to look.

If it were me, I wouldn't sweat the head position that much as long as his position was correct and consistent.

I said above that he's not too motivated for anything other than praise at this point. I have put the tug under my armpit and that works for a few steps. I have not tried the food spitting yet though. I'll have to buy some cheese or something and give it a shot!

I'm getting to the point where I think it might be alot less stressful for him if I just accept his head position, and in the long run he might get more comfortable with heeling and then his head might come up a little..UGH very stressful stuff.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 02:22 PM
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Personally, I prefer correct position over flashy. Flashy is nice if you can get it WITH correct position (no forging) but not at the sacrifice of the dog being in the correct heel position. I dislike heeling where the dog is forging or wrapping so badly because it was trained with too much emphasis on eye contact rather than correct position (dogs withers in line with the handler's thigh/leg).

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 02:32 PM
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I agree, not all dogs are going to be like that no matter how you train. My dog is kind of like what you describe. He stays right w/ me but is not prancy. He got High Obedience at his SchH trial, not a perfect score but the heeling was not the problem either. I think a lot of flash and prance comes from how the dog was trained initially in its foundation, so if it's not there and never was, and the dog is just not that kind of dog, I would focus my efforts elsewhere and reward correct position. Attention does not have to be unwavering eye contact as long as the dog reacts to your pace changes and turns.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reassurance! That's what my gut was telling me, but being a first time Schutzhund-er, I wasn't sure. =P

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