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I am super new to IPO, but have been watching videos and I went to my first ever event last week as a spectator, and I am intrigued. It seems like such an awesome and fun sport.

My only question is in regards to the “focused heal” position. I have to be honest, the neck positioning of the dog just looks super uncomfortable/ unnatural for the dog. It reminds me of the highly exaggerated neck positions show horses have to hold. I don’t see the reason for it. I know that IPO is supposed to gauge a dogs engagement/ willingness to work, but is an extreme exaggerated neck position really necessary to show engagement?
Thoughts?
 

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They know where you are without having to look at you. I think it is too much but maybe for a few seconds it won't hurt?
 

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I am glad they are going to start dinging for it.


I was speaking with my breeder about this not too long ago. She pointed out the potential for issues with the neck, shoulders, and back from long time use of this position. My trainer has malinois that heel like this - it doesn't look nearly as stressful for them, but it's still unnatural looking. I watched a IPO nationals for Brasil (I think or one of the other Hispanic countries) yesterday where the dog's head was vertically upwards and looked like she was on her toes in the front feet the entire time. Not the usual drivey prance you see with other GSDs. I don't see how that is comfortable at all. The OB was good, but I think my neck would hurt if I had to look up with my chin up for 10 minutes straight while walking.


Another thing I have heard (from my trainer's Facebook post) was that there are new requirements in VPG for heeling. The handlers arm/hand has to be on the inside of the dog's head vs how I was training with my other dog (hand on the outside of the head). Must be natural and moving (as usual.) I'm curious if this is 100% the new requirement and if so, how people with larger dogs will deal with potentially smacking their dog in the head as they heel. Has anyone else heard about this? Sorry not trying to hijack the thread.
 

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There’s a whole lot about IPO training that’s dangerous and unnatural, and there’s plenty of dogs that offer a prance on their own. A dog who’s head is constantly cranked inwards and upwards towards the handler will cause just as much damage as a straighter head position, if not more. All I know is you are free to train however you want to, or not. I don’t train for what some judges will or will not penalize. The whole thing is up to personal interpretation.
 

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Agreed Alexis. There are so many ways for dogs to get hurt.

My dog doesn't have a natural prance but my trainers dogs do. I'm not fighting with a dog to develop something that goes against their conformation over minimal points.

VPG? You mean IGP?

As far as hand placement, I haven't read the rules but I'm not retraining my dog to meet new rules.
 

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HOw vertical the head position is completely up to the handler a dog with a "cranked" head position vs a dog with a slightly lowered head position should both get the same points provided everything else is the same. The only issues arise that lower and wrapped dogs are more likely to forge crab and impede the motion of the handler and halt crooked and would get dinged for those things. But there are plently of people that have a more "Natural" head position with their dogs who found a way around those issues and still complete at the highest levels. Too me heeling is an art with my dog i create the picture that I like and adjust it to conform to the rules as I see fit.
 

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With the head up, the dog is less likely to go outward with his hips and more likely to throw his chest up.
This was the reasoning behind my trainer training her dogs to heel with a vertical head position - less likely to be crooked in comparison to the handler. I'm not sure about throwing chest up, though I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Her dogs don't prance but they look very flashy regardless.

I agree about the idea of retraining a dog for new rules - I would rather take the deduction in points than confuse the dog if the new rule required a drastic change to what I was teaching/practicing.

Regarding my post about the hand placement - I haven't read anything on the USCA page that reflects this piece of information. I'm wondering where my trainer got the info from in the first place (another country/parent club may interpret the rules differently).
 

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I really disliked the whole focused movement when I first started IPO, but I kind of understand it now.

My take is this - it shows you can get the dog's trust and focus on you even when they are doing something like walking forward, which instinct is to look where you are going and scan the environment (for any animal) They are focusing on you and putting trust in you. I am not sure if that was the idea in the beginning, but that reason makes sense to me so I have reconciled its value as such. I was relieved to see it is an exercise of showing focus during a particular obedience display, rather than being considered a proper way to go about other things.

I am sensitive to stuff like this as I am a long time competitor in defensive firearms "games" ...of which the initial purpose, at the "sports" inception was to give an outlet, a test of skill, proving grounds, and camaraderie to people who had to lay it down in real life (much like the origins of Schutzhund). It (shooting sports) has become so overstylized (starting from when civilians got involved for fun) that there is just good looking but impractical...and somewhat down right stupid/dangerous...moves and exercises that have become heavily ingranied into the sport. To the point when LEO who ACTUALLY see real life action choose to compete, they will say " I am not doing that, give me penalty points, I don't care". Sound similar?

I have good attention from my dog now during a fuss. He doesn't prance or crane his neck. Well, I'm pretty short and he is pretty tall. So the reward kind of always comes at his level not from above from an armpit or anything lol. He knows he only has to look at me during movement when I give that command. And he does it well. I don't care about points, I care about passing (ok well, I dont want scores in the low passing, but I am not bent on getting all high 90s)

I would not "necessarily" want to see people dinged for their dog's angle of their actual neck during focus, I'd rather see emphasis solely on the dog's attention to their handler. However if the point dinging for "extreme looking up" is in the interest of the dog's health due to training to achieve that look, AND it has been researched to be bad for them (not just presumed) then again, I'd get that.

My dog looks me in the eye. And wow am I short.
 

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I am super new to IPO, but have been watching videos and I went to my first ever event last week as a spectator, and I am intrigued. It seems like such an awesome and fun sport.

My only question is in regards to the “focused heal” position. I have to be honest, the neck positioning of the dog just looks super uncomfortable/ unnatural for the dog. It reminds me of the highly exaggerated neck positions show horses have to hold. I don’t see the reason for it. I know that IPO is supposed to gauge a dogs engagement/ willingness to work, but is an extreme exaggerated neck position really necessary to show engagement?
Thoughts?
Its extreme when it effects the movement. Its not the prancing, it becomes very stilted and loses that fluid moving with you picture. A dogs not going to heel if it hurts, you aren't going to force them into holding an uncomfortable position for 10mins and all the pattern and turns. At the other end is, dogs not maintaining that position can be a problem as far as losing them as soon as you say heel. You end up with casual stroll around the field.
 

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My dog looks me in the eye. And wow am I short.

:grin2: This will be me with my new guy, Steel. His dad is 25.25" at the withers and I'm 5' 2.5." The breeder thinks he'll be big like his dad. Katsu's angle is more extreme since she's shorter (about 22"). I don't have any actual pictures of her heeling, but I do have one where I called her into a "fuss" at a pool and she was in the process of moving to the position.


Don't get me wrong, when I was training for a BH before her diagnosis, I was also training the extreme head position for heeling. I liked the flashy look that I saw with her older brother who was further progressed in his heel work. She didn't seem bothered by it, it just seemed painful in the long run to me. Since I'm starting new with another puppy, I'm not sure if I want to train for that extreme head position (actually probably couldn't since his nose will be in my armpit, lol).
 

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How old is he? He is nice looking :) My dog topped out at just over 27" 27.5 depending who is measuring him.. His parents are within height standard. Guess any family can throw a rogue tall kid lol

I am a whopping 4'11 (and a half).
 

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This was the reasoning behind my trainer training her dogs to heel with a vertical head position - less likely to be crooked in comparison to the handler. I'm not sure about throwing chest up, though I'm not sure exactly what you mean.


If you are using food, the higher up you hold it, the higher the head will tilt back causing the chest to jut out.
 

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Until there’s proven medical reason to train one over the other, then it’s just personal preference. If someone could explain how the dog’s head turned inward toward the handler is in any way more beneficial than straight, I’d be glad to hear it. Unless we’re talking about having a dog walk with a completely neutral head position, as it would just walking next to you casually, then it’s not natural. No form of focused heeling is “natural” in IPO. All of it is a trained, reinforced behavior.
 

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Personally, in my very limited experience, I think dogs will seek their own level of comfort based on their conformation and training. My dog will heel with his nose in my armpit if the ball is there but when the ball goes away, he adjusts to a position more comfortable. The ball reward line teaches them where to focus, which should be your shoulder area to avoid the seeking eye contact and wrapping. So his head is still up, his focus is in the right are and he was a more natural movement where he's comfortable.

And, in my experience, luring his head up is only one step in getting a straight position in heeling. They also need rear end awareness, correction when they are out of position and the handler needs to be aware of their speed to the dogs natural stride.
 

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Personally, in my very limited experience, I think dogs will seek their own level of comfort based on their conformation and training. My dog will heel with his nose in my armpit if the ball is there but when the ball goes away, he adjusts to a position more comfortable. The ball reward line teaches them where to focus, which should be your shoulder area to avoid the seeking eye contact and wrapping. So his head is still up, his focus is in the right are and he was a more natural movement where he's comfortable.

And, in my experience, luring his head up is only one step in getting a straight position in heeling. They also need rear end awareness, correction when they are out of position and the handler needs to be aware of their speed to the dogs natural stride.
This is what a lot of people don’t understand. You cannot enourage the dog to maintain a position that causes pain over an extended period of time. It will not comply to hold the position if it’s in pain, without being physically restrained in that position.
 

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head up?

So thru the opinions I havebeen reading here and other sites there really isn’t any good/medical/realreason for a dog to have its head up looking at you while heeling but just tomake it look good? As other here have said, I dog can see and respond to youjust find with its nose to the ground if it wanted. So to ding it or not? Iwould step on my poor dog's toes or trip myself if he stood that closewith his head up looking unnaturally up at me like that. I would rather my dogstay an elbow's length away from me with his eyes front (sorry Military).
 
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