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I think one of the issues is that correct and focused heeling is one of the hardest things to train. I agree it has no practical application other than to impress the judges, but it is a challenge to the handler and I think that is why some are resistant to it.
 

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Well, this is an IPO portion of the forum. The rules call for the dog to be attentive to the handler. Period. The dog can not have eyes forward or sniffing the ground. Attentive to the handler. A dog will not hold their body in a position that hurts. It just won't happen.

Is it easy to teach heeling? No. It takes a Very long time to get the picture you want. Alot of small pieces to teach body movement, many months of luring. But you are going to get dinged for more points for the dog not being straight and the dog crowding you than you will for the head not being up. That judge falls in line behind you to watch the position.

And if your dog is not attentive to you, then you are simply not rewarding enough. It's not rocket science, it's walking with your dog beside you....not touching you, attentive to you, straight and in position.
 

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I think one of the issues is that correct and focused heeling is one of the hardest things to train. I agree it has no practical application other than to impress the judges, but it is a challenge to the handler and I think that is why some are resistant to it.
Like the rest of the trial, it is to see if the dog has the stamina and self control to follow through. If it were still a breeding test it would show that the dog has confidence in the handler and the solid nerves to pay attention to the handler even under great distraction. Imagine yourself walking just one block down the road with a friend, looking only at your friend's face. Now imagine doing that without flinching when a car backfires or some other sudden noise happens. It's not easy and you really have to trust that friend. That is what the judges should be looking for.

My preference is not to have that fancy head straight up look but if they are doing that you KNOW that dog is focused on the handler for it's next task, not on anything else.
 
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