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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been trying to teach Skylar focused heeling. She sometimes gets stressed out on walks, so i figured if i taught her this she could focus on me and walk pass dogs.
She does alright, but you can see her really thinking hard, then she starts whining and barking at me, like a frustrated bark- is she just being stubborn or am i really frustrating her? She knows heel and focus seperately, so i wouldn't think it would be that hard.
I put her in a sit, get into the heel postition (me on her right) and hold a treat up behind my ear, when she looks up and at my eyes instead of the treat, i click and treat. Then we started taking one step forward, which is when she started barking/whining. I want everything to be fun, does this happen to any one else? I don't know if she's stubborn, confused, frustrated, or just being a butthead. She's 9 months old if that makes any difference.
 

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if by focused you mean, watching your face like a "competition heel"... its very unatural for a dog to walk and not watch where its going so it IS frustrating for the dog in some sense. The first few steps of a focused heel are the toughest. Its not bad after that.
 

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Focused heeling is HARD, especially for a young dog.

When Cash and I took an intermediate obedience class, our big goal was 10 steps of focused heeling.
 

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Teaching a good focused heeling is a good thing, but if you think you can use it to get her past dogs out on a walk, you need to think again, unless you have her trained to a VERY high level of distraction first.

Hard to say why she's acting up in training. It could be she's confused and/or frustrated and/or excited. Ask your trainer what's going on with her.

The dogs that people call buttheads are just dogs that have exceeded their current level of training. This is the handler's fault, not the dog's.
 

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Teaching a good focused heeling is a good thing, but if you think you can use it to get her past dogs out on a walk, you need to think again, unless you have her trained to a VERY high level of distraction first.

Hard to say why she's acting up in training. It could be she's confused and/or frustrated and/or excited. Ask your trainer what's going on with her.

The dogs that people call buttheads are just dogs that have exceeded their current level of training. This is the handler's fault, not the dog's.
Yeah thats a good point... actually doing a focused heel for a full dog walk is a bit much to ask. Now, a focused heel past that one house with the dog that barks and then back to regular walking. Thats more realistic
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The reason i wanted a focus heel is because she sometimes reacts to other dogs, I know when it's going to happen so I put her in a sit and she does her focus, but the other owner/dog walk by really slow OR they'll think her sitting means they can come visit. So I thought if we had a focus heel, we could walk passed them, just speeding up the whole process. It doesn't happen all the time, some days she's more touchy than normal- I live in a neighbourhood where we'll pass maybe one dog on a walk. Do you think that's too much for her? I really don't want to stress us out, my goal was to find ways to keep her not stressed out. I'm not trying to teach it fast, but that one step got her going, so we're back to just standing with the head up.
Is it a bad idea to teach it to her at all at this age?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah thats a good point... actually doing a focused heel for a full dog walk is a bit much to ask. Now, a focused heel past that one house with the dog that barks and then back to regular walking. Thats more realistic
I didn't mean the whole walk, I don't even make her heel the whole walk right now (but she can't pull), just the first & last couple of minutes (that's what the trainer said to do)
 

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You should be teaching a focused heel from the very first day of training. The problem is that you want to use it in an extremely distracting environment - walking past barking dogs - and that's a long way down the road as it's something you can't expect from her until she really gets it and has been proofed with increasing levels of distraction.

I never ask my dogs to do a formal heel on a walk, not even for short periods. I do get to decide how long the leash is and they do not get to pull.
 

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For your particular situation I wouldn't use a focused heel at all. Because I'd ALWAYS want my body positioned between my dog and the oncoming dog, which isn't probably always going to be with my dog on the left.

Additionally, for focused heeling I have to be looking down at my dog and also not looking at the oncoming dog/human/situation so I'm not possibly controlling it as I should. I want my dogs attention (no crazed focus on the other dog) but NOT necessarily the eye to eye of a focused heel.

I'd much rather be asking the other owner if there dog is friendly, or ask them to put their dog on their far side, or just calmly curving away from the other dog...

BTW, what I'd REALLY do is purchase the DVD Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas cause there are alot of training and dog behavior things you can do to help your dog with this that a precise and controlling heel is NOT ...


Welcome to Dogwise.com
 

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thanks for the advice!
so, when you guys walk your dogs they don't heel at all? Do I even know what a normal "heel" is?? I thought it was when they were beside you with a loose leash? Am I wrong?

What a great questions!

A heel is a VERY controlled and precise position for our dogs to be in...the dogs right shoulder right at our left leg/hip. If they are attention heeling it's with them looking up at our face the entire time!


 

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When my dogs walk on leash, as long as they are not pulling and in a relatively close position, and don't stop abruptly to trip me up, I'm fine with that.

Now they do have a focused competition heel - but it takes TONS AND TONS AND TONS of work to develop that, and requires extreme mental effort for the dogs to maintain that focus. Keeta is reactive to dogs, and the time, effort and training I put into the focused competion heel has paid off big time in getting her past barking dogs with her looking at me, and ignoring the other dog. BUT it took a lot of work with distratctions, with proofing, using my friends and THEIR well behaved, well trained dog as a distraction and for proofing, for weeks and weeks and weeks of regular get togethers and trianing ( I train in Schutzhund - so formal training sessions with other dogs from one to three times a week, for at least a year before it was reliable) to get to that point, before I could reasonably expect my ADULT dog to focus and ignore unknown barking dogs. And to proof her to hat level, some serious corrections were required, so not something you could/should do with a young/teen-age puppy.

So yes, focused heeling is great for getting a reactive dogs attention, but don't under-estimate the time and effort and proofing it requires, and much too early in the game to get frustrated about anything -
 

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I intersperse teaching/training with our walks - and have for quite a while. For temptations I simply worked with a sit with focus on me with reward. Now (at 17 mos) I can get focus in most situations and focus into a heel or a come & sit or a down. I would not attempt to walk my dog past other dogs on the same sidewalk yet. We move to the other side of the street or off the sidewalk into a driveway. With time you will get what you want but what you are asking is something that a more mature dog will be more able to do.
 

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I just use "watch" if we have to walk by something like a squirrel where I know she will want to pull. A controlled heel for a 9 month old is hard work. If she is not pulling, lunging, and barking she's doing fine. As far as a regular heel as long as my girl is not pulling ahead I am fine. Dogs need to be able to sniff and explore their environment when on a casual walk, but know how to walk properly for training purposes so be sure to keep the two separate:)
 

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Just because she's got great focus and a nice heel does not mean that putting them together should be a snap. As Lucia said, it takes a lot of work. For me, loose leash walking is one thing and heeling is another. I actually rarely use the heel command, but I do a lot of clicking and treating when the dog offers up the heel position voluntarily, especially with eye contact. My loose leash walk criteria is that the dog is within a foot or two from my side, with any part between their head and about mid-ribcage or so next to my leg - not quite a perfect heel, but fairly strict for a long walk. Our walks are always training walks, and vary from 3-9 miles long.

My dogs are great with other dogs off leash but will sometimes bark at other dogs passing by when they're on leash. Rather than relying on a focused heel to get safely by I'll use a treat lure to keep their attention on me if I need to. I also do a lot of back and forth walking as the other person/dog approach. I mostly walk on paved and unpaved trails that are from 1-1/2 to 2 times the width of a sidewalk, and that little bit of extra space helps as long as the other person stays on their side of the trail. If I see that my dog is staring at the other dog and starting to pull towards it, I'll say "leave it" and turn around abruptly to break focus, and go in the opposite direction for a few paces, then turn back. I do this as many times as necessary.

Sometimes just keeping my dog moving like this while the other dog gets closer is enough. I do use a sit or down instead sometimes (facing my dog away from the other dog), and click/treat for attention on me, with huge praise and a jackpot of treats when the other dog is past us. I'll use motion as the reward too, jumping around, running with them a few paces and whooping it up, etc. Occasionally I bring a tug with me and whip that out as the reward.

Walking on sidewalks I'd cross the street and use parked cars to block the view, or go down side streets or use driveways to put a little distance between us and the other dog if I needed to.
 

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If I see that my dog is staring at the other dog and starting to pull towards it, I'll say "leave it" and turn around abruptly to break focus, and go in the opposite direction for a few paces, then turn back. I do this as many times as necessary. I do use a sit or down instead sometimes (facing my dog away from the other dog), and click/treat for attention on me, with huge praise and a jackpot of treats when the other dog is past us. I'll use motion as the reward too, jumping around, running with them a few paces and whooping it up, etc. Occasionally I bring a tug with me and whip that out as the reward.

Walking on sidewalks I'd cross the street and use parked cars to block the view, or go down side streets or use driveways to put a little distance between us and the other dog if I needed to.
These are the methods I use.
 

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I teach my students three types of walking on leash.

1. Free - This walking is allowed for about 10 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog gets to be on either side of me. He gets to "check the news", potty, and in general not have to be paying close attention to what I am doing (the only thing not allowed is pulling on the leash).

2. Let's Go - This walking is allowed for about 45 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog is required to walk at my left side and not pull on the leash. This is the "walk" time. Where we are basically on a mission to get somewhere, so walk with me nicely (think Cesar's walk basically).

3. Heel - This walking is practiced for about 5 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog is required to walk on my left, with his head up and paying attention to me. The competition style heeling (like on the first video MRL posted of Anne Marie Silverton's video - not the second video [the Dobe was way forging and his head was wrapped]).

I tell my students, it takes an average of 9 months to a year to get competition style heeling for a sustained amount of time without a lure. Obviously some dog/handler teams can accomplish this faster, but in general, it is a good rule of thumb on the time it takes to teach sustained heeling amid distractions and without a lure.

It is easy to get frustrated training heeling. Heeling is difficult for a beginner to master, IMO. Train often and get the behavior you are looking for without distractions first. Then start with easier distractions. If you already have a reactive dog, I would not be trying to teach heeling around other dogs yet.

Keep practicing and realize that just because a dog understands the watch command and a command to walk with you, it does not mean it is easy to mesh the two together :crazy:

Good luck!
 

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I teach my students three types of walking on leash.

1. Free - This walking is allowed for about 10 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog gets to be on either side of me. He gets to "check the news", potty, and in general not have to be paying close attention to what I am doing (the only thing not allowed is pulling on the leash).

2. Let's Go - This walking is allowed for about 45 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog is required to walk at my left side and not pull on the leash. This is the "walk" time. Where we are basically on a mission to get somewhere, so walk with me nicely (think Cesar's walk basically).

3. Heel - This walking is practiced for about 5 min of an hour walk. This is the time the dog is required to walk on my left, with his head up and paying attention to me. The competition style heeling (like on the first video MRL posted of Anne Marie Silverton's video - not the second video [the Dobe was way forging and his head was wrapped]).

I tell my students, it takes an average of 9 months to a year to get competition style heeling for a sustained amount of time without a lure. Obviously some dog/handler teams can accomplish this faster, but in general, it is a good rule of thumb on the time it takes to teach sustained heeling amid distractions and without a lure.

It is easy to get frustrated training heeling. Heeling is difficult for a beginner to master, IMO. Train often and get the behavior you are looking for without distractions first. Then start with easier distractions. If you already have a reactive dog, I would not be trying to teach heeling around other dogs yet.

Keep practicing and realize that just because a dog understands the watch command and a command to walk with you, it does not mean it is easy to mesh the two together :crazy:

Good luck!
Great advice! I like it :)
 

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I have not yet heel-trained my dog at 19 months. She is mostly off-leash but when on leash she is very manageable. If we encounter another dog and the other dog is not threatening or obnoxious I allow them to introduce themselves, otherwise I put her in a focused sit until the other dog passes.
 
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